I Hate Brunch (And So Should You)

I have no deep or novel insights into human behavior. But I tend to try. And I honestly cannot fathom why people love brunch so much. Asking around, I got a response in the form of a combination of the following three factors: Bacon; Having sweet and savory items together, sometimes in the same dish;…

Getting Culinary with Cocktails

I could spend the rest of my life drinking nothing but five classic cocktails and never get bored. The reason, as I’ve previously discussed, is that technique and the freshness of ingredients often matter more than fancy spirits. People get this wrong all the time. I’ll trade a bunch of expensive spirits for a skilled hand and citrus squeezed a la minute any day of the week.

But kids these days want novelty and exotic flavors. While you can certainly go out and stock your bar at considerable expense (which I have done, for the record), there are other ways to bring some (thoughtful) novelty to your cocktails. Culinary ingredients, including fresh aromatics and juices, are the perfect way to do this. As it turns out, your grocery store has plenty of delicious things to include in your cocktails. You just need to know how to go about it.

Toronto Dining

Years ago I lived in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. One of the many things I was stunned by during my time in New York was just how many people I met who were later (reluctantly) revealed to be Canadian. These Canadians, contrary to reports, weren’t any more polite, kind, generous or humble than the…

The Cocktail Development Model

Having previously teased about a scientifically determined, shaken cocktail development model based on the statistical analysis of various key characteristics of shaken cocktails (namely, the relative content of ethanol, acid and sugar) it’s time to put out, so to speak. As a matter of brief background, based on my understanding of the interplay between those three characteristics of shaken cocktails, I determined that two relationships should exist. The first, obviously, was the balancing act between sugar and acid: Basically, the more acid you add, the more sugar you need. Strikingly, the classic cocktails I studied in my sample fell within a rather narrow corridor of sugar versus acid, which I dubbed the Classics Corridor.

On Shaken Cocktails

On my first trip to Japan over a decade ago, I had just come off my final, glorious night out in Tokyo. With an early flight out the next morning, I was wandering around the Ginza neighborhood, hoping to stumble upon a taxi stand. Instead, I happened across a gorgeous, oak paneled, dimly-lit den of a bar with more bottles of alcohol against the wall than I had ever known to exist. You don’t turn down encounters like that in Japan as a rule.

The Theory of Natural Cocktail Selection

Natural selection, at base, is the differential survival and reproduction of living things on the basis of observable traits. A cheetah is more likely to survive the wild, capture more prey and ultimately produce offspring if she has a new set of traits, ones which even her own parents lacked, that make her observably faster or more cunning than the average cheetah, for example. Her offspring have a greater chance of doing the same since they are more likely to have their mother’s advantageous traits. For this to occur, however, information needs to be conveyed from one generation of cheetah to the next, to preserve what came before. Through random and undirected changes in such information from one generation to the next, “innovation” (in a sense) has occurred. This basic idea serves as the bedrock for our entire understanding of biology. It’s a powerful idea to say the least, but it famously applies to a great number of things beyond living ones.

What To Eat & Drink In San Francisco

The following are some casual eateries and bars that I enjoy the most when in San Francisco. It strikes me as more or less easy to find information on fine dining, but finding places like these takes a bit more dedication. Enjoy!

What to Eat & Drink in New York City

New York is among the most dynamic food scenes in the world. I couldn’t hope to keep up with it, even if I tried. And trust me, I’m not trying. That said, I used to live there, I often travel there and I still love to eat there. One clever lie that New Yorkers tend to heap onto unsuspecting tourists is that there is no end to the good food in New York City, that you can walk into almost any restaurant and the forces that conspire to make New York “the greatest city in the world,” co-conspire to ensure that any restaurant you enter will serve you very good food. That’s bullshit.

Denver Dining

Although the Denver fine dining is far short of world class, there are some amazing casual eats well worth trying. Beyond casual eats, Denver has a budding cocktail scene. My recommendations for all are below.

How to Find a Better Restaurant (Or My Collected Restaurant and Bar Guides)

I’ve been traveling fairly regularly to San Francisco for years. Yet, until recently, I’d mostly dread those trips. San Francisco is expensive, its people half kind and generous, half aggressively irritating and it’s food scene, pretentious, fickle, boring (or so I thought). As it turns out, and to my delight, there is some good food in…

The Violet Hour, Chicago

Whenever poetry is quoted out of context on a bar’s web site, it commonly isn’t an indication of better things to come. The quote to which I’m alluding, appearing in the “About” section of the The Violet Hour’s web site, is from section III, “The Fire Sermon,” of T.S. Eliot’s long poem, The Waste Land….

Gather, Chicago – Autumn 2013 Update

The following is a shortened update to my prior full review of Gather, from Summer 2013. I’m certain everyone will be happy to know that the group at Gather is still doing a fantastic job. My most recent meal from Chef Ken Carter gave a hint at what is coming for the fall. From what I gleaned from…