From the Martinez to the Vesper: The Mythology of Martinis

Like many of the most famous cocktails, the Martini is at its foundation and most widely accepted recipe, exceptionally simple: gin and vermouth, with an olive or twist of lemon peel for garnish. Nothing more. Stirred, actually, not shaken. And yet, as simple as that recipe is, few cocktails have as many variations and corruptions…

Meet Me at the Savoy

The Savoy Hotel was the home away from headquarters for British Intelligence during the Second World War. It was a hospital during the Blitz. And it was one of the first places to introduce to Europe the cocktail and the concept of the “American bar”. London’s famous Savoy Hotel is first mentioned in the James…

Ghosts of Monte Vista

Author’s note: I wrote this piece for the Winter 2001-2002 issue of Route 66 magazine. It was my first professionally published magazine piece. I was a different writer then, though not perhaps quite that different than I am now. In the spirit of a happily haunted Halloween, I reprint it here, literary warts and all,…

Alcohol Professor: American Hotel Bars

Over at my other home on Alcohol Professor, I’m spinning the tale of the rise and fall and rise of the American hotel bar and cocktail culture. Or rather, in Cocktail History: American Hotel Bars, I am writing about “Rediscovering the American Hotel Bar,” a Manhattan Cocktail Classic event in which Rene Hidalgo, head bartender…

My Old Kentucky Home on the Bowery

Kentuckians grow up with Stephen Foster. He wrote “My Old Kentucky Home,” our state song, and The Stephen Foster Story has been playing at My Old Kentucky Home State Park for over fifty years. Although “America’s first composer” was born in Pennsylvania and later lived in Ohio (albeit in Cincinnati, which is just across the…