Tagged With cocktails

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Coming up with a new cocktail every week is a fun challenge but, after over 125 instalments of this column, it has gotten more a bit more challenging. Sometimes I ask my brilliant bartender friends for direction, but sometimes I simply stare at the various bottles on my bar cart, willing a new recipe to take shape. (The latter strategy is what I employed today.)

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The holidays are a time of excess, and the excess is starting to take its toll. Beyond the generalised fatigue and slight bloat, my seasonal mania is starting to fade, and it turns out that Christmas Claire may have overdone it with the food and alcohol purchasing (once again).

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I don’t know if I can speak for everyone, but 2019 was a year that required--nay, demanded--I consume more than a few cocktails. This was bad news for my liver, but great news for my readers, as all that drinking resulted in a lot of cocktail-related pondering and testing, as well as some truly great cocktail hacks.

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Disengaging from my work is a difficult task, mainly because eating is something I have to do every day, whether I want to or not. Even when I’m on vacation, the meals I eat and the drinks I drink are analysed and evaluated. “Could I write about this?,” I ask. “Is this a hack?” Some trips are more fruitful than others.

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Last night I attended a holiday party where my contribution was a plate of sausage and cheese balls and a 750ml bottle of Old Fashioneds. Both were well received, but the Old Fashioned perhaps caught the most attention. As it turns out, a lot of the party-goers had never considered making a bunch of them at once, and instead considered it a cocktail you’d need to make one at a time.

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A holiday riff on a classic cocktail is a fine thing, but the “seasonal twist” always seems to start and stop with cinnamon. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with cinnamon—it’s accessible and uncontroversial, it reads as sweet without adding actual sweetness, and it is even purportedly good for your blood pressure or something. As such, it seems to find its way into any and all holiday-specific cocktails, the first and last answer to the question of how to make a drink taste right for right now.

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Apples do a lot of heavy lifting around the holidays. We bake them in pies, drink their fermented juice, and sip on spiced cider. Apple brandy is my favourite vehicle for this particular flavour, and when paired with Bénédictine liqueur, it makes a drink that tastes like a more alcoholic version of your favourite seasonal hard cider.

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There are many advantages to having cocktail experts for friends. Besides being excellent hosts, they often (quite generously) provide me with inspiration and recipes for this column. Usually, they end up directing me to classic cocktails I had somehow missed. It’s very helpful.

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I always love the idea of pears more than the actual fruit, primarily because—like avocados—their “aw, hell yeah” window is very short. But pear brandy never fails me; the flavour is consistently good, the mouthfeel is never gritty, and the ABV hovers around 40 per cent.

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One of my favourite things about running Lifehacker's cooking section is the relationships I’ve formed with the readers. Beyond the comments sections—which is a surprisingly chill corner of the internet—lovely people will often DM or email me with suggestions, requests and recipes.

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If you search the phrase “Halloween cocktails,” you will find many recipes for green or purple cocktails with names like “witch’s brew” or “witch’s heart,” or “melted witch.” Most of these cocktails are overly sweet, and few of them enticing.

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A lot of people like to drink hot alcohol in cold weather, but I am not one of those people. Warming myself internally while wearing a thick, fuzzy sweater makes me sweaty — and panicky — which is why I keep my cocktails cold and guzzle-able, no matter the weather.

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As far as I'm concerned, apple season is all-year round. Besides eating meals comprised of nothing but sliced apples (and very good cheese), I’ve been incorporating apples into everything lately, from salads to desserts and cocktails.

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Every bar should have a “thing.” My very favourite bar, Burp Castle in the East Village of Manhattan, is themed like a monastery; the bartenders wear monks’ robes and gently shush the patrons to keep the noise down. My local Brooklyn bar, High Dive, isn’t quite so distinctive, but it serves popcorn and has pinball in the back and a chalkboard in the front where patrons can put money on each others’ tabs.