Chicago Cocktail

Chicago Cocktail

I was looking for an old-school cocktail to enjoy while rooting the Cubs toward their first World Series title since 1908 when what should I find but the Chicago Cocktail!

This one may not go back to 1908, but it definitely predates 1930, when it was first in print. Considering how Al Capone's Chicago was awash in Canadian whisky during Prohibition, this brandy-based concoction probably predates that dark period as well. 

Here's something peculiar about the Chicago: the recipe calls for an old-fashioned glass, but the whole drink is little more than 2 ounces, so use the smallest old-fashioned glass you have, or make it a double! 

Hanky Panky

Hanky Panky cocktailThis peculiar classic uses the downright medicinal Fernet Branca, so it's best with a rich flavorful gin like the Ingenium from New England Distilling or Maine Distilleries Cold River Gin.


Metropolitan CocktailThe recipe that I saw was very old (around 1900). It called for cognac. I tried this with a very good Pierre Ferrand cognac and also with the Christian Brothers VSOP brandy that I use for holiday baking due to its strong vanilla overtones.

The brandy version was better; the other was a waste of good cognac. I think this is because the old recipe was created during a time when brandy might be any fruit-derived spirit, some truly bad, while cognac was a guarantee of the grape spirit. Today even the cheapest brandy is derived from grape wine unless noted otherwise, so I think the cheap modern brandy is an adequate substitute for the cautious cognac in the original recipe.

A Feast of Parma

The first course of our Parma feast

When we went to Italy in 2015, I made a pilgrimage to the home of Giuseppe Verdi, near Parma. There we found a foodie paradise.

So we had a feast of the bounty of Parma. It was exquisite, and educational too.

First you need some introduction:

Parma, Italy, is a sort of genius cuisine center even in that land of foodie heaven. The city of Parma (a little bigger than Worcester and Providence) is midway between Milan and Bologna (both much bigger than Boston), about an hour and a half from each. Within an hour's drive of the city of Parma, you can drive through the ancient and fertile provinces of Parma, Reggio-Emilia, and Modena.

Aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese between Culatello and domestic Prosciutto

Parma and Reggio-Emila are known for Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, of course. It is also known for excellent salumi (cured meats), including salami, mortadella, capocollo, and the celebrated prosciutto di Parma. Also made there but seldom seen here is culatello, a special high-grade prosciutto that you can sometimes get at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. 

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

I learned this simple late-summer delight from my father. It responds well to different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. 



Boulevardier Cocktail

This variation on the classic, pungent, and beautiful Negroni is made with whiskey instead of gin. This one was beautiful with a rich, smooth Split Rock white whiskey. The clear whiskey lets the outrageous reds shine through, and the "hearts only" Split Rock has none of the harshness that you find in other white whiskeys. 

I also made this with Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth that had been aged for four weeks in a charred oak cask. I think Carpano Antica is the closest substitute. It's pricey, and it's not right for every cocktail, but every serious cocktailian should keep a bottle of Carpano Antica in the fridge. 



This classic chilled summer soup is simple to make and full of delicate summer flavors. The recipe is simple, but it allows for infinite artistic expression. 

This is one of those recipes that can be made vegetarian or not (you can use chicken stock, or top it with crumbled bacon), but the vegetarian version is in no way inferior.  

Bronx Cocktail

A Bronx CocktailThis is a Perfect Martini (that is, equal parts sweet vermouth and dry vermouth instead of all dry vermouth) with orange juice for sweetness and complexity.

I enjoy the Bronx Cocktail in the summer, or anytime during a Yankees game!

Because of the sweet vermouth and the orange juice, this works well with a wide variety of gins, including some of the more daring new American gins. 


Mojito Cocktail

This is a very old drink that has gained new celebrity. The inspired combination of white rum (or aguardiente), lime, mint, and sugar has been traced to a 16th century drink borrowed from indigenous Cubans. At that time it was intended to cure scurvy and dysentery. Today it is made with finer versions of the same refreshing combination of ingredients, and its uses are more recreational than medicinal!


Dining in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England
Black Sole at the Fish Kitchen in Bantry

Lorna and I spent 15 days in Ireland, dining out every night. We learned a few things that you might want to know if you are planning a vacation to Ireland.

To dispense with old stereotypes, there is plenty of good food in Ireland, including many excellent preparations of traditional old dishes. We never did see corned beef and cabbage on the menu, or any corned beef at all, for that matter.  There is mediocre food to be found, of course, but if you plan ahead, you can do very well indeed.

Mountain Man Brewing Hairy Goat IPA

Guinness is everywhere, of course, and they have a new hoppy lager offering called Hop House 13. It is not clearly marked on the tap handles as a Guinness product, so you may think that you are giving support to the local craft beer scene when you're actually supporting their common rival!

Beyond that, though, there is a thriving craft beer culture. In every part of Ireland we found local offerings. The Irish craft beer scene is not as established as the US craft beer scene, and it has to work extra hard against that constant Guinness headwind, but with some research you can find some exciting new Irish brews. Perhaps if American tourists get into the habit of asking for something other than Guinness, some restaurants and pubs will open new taps for the local products. 

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