Only a short time ago, the notion of Scotch cocktails seemed a bit absurd to many drinkers—isn't Scotch supposed to be served neat? But as bartenders became acquainted with more affordable blended Scotches marketed for mixing, Scotch cocktails started popping up at bars across the country. Cognac is, in many ways, a similar case: a generally pricey spirit whose higher-end bottles are indeed best enjoyed straight, but whose more affordable brethren can shine when mixed. As we're seeing mixology-focused cognacs hit the market, perhaps the cognac cocktail is on the verge of a comeback.
No one knows a city's best drinkeries like its talented bartenders. And that goes double in a city like Las Vegas. It's the glittering casinos and all-night clubs that draw most visitors' drinking dollars. But both on the Strip and off, it's possible to find great bars that don't demand bottle service or crazy table minimums.
Bartenders share their favorite cocktail books—beyond the classics.
While the world of craft cocktails has evolved in recent years, bartenders still pay constant respect to classic drinks. And many of those classics come to us through cocktail books—some dating back to the Prohibition era or before.
No one knows a city's bars like the talented men and women who work behind them. So we're going straight to the source, asking bartenders about their own favorite drinking establishments in Philly, from dive bars to fancy cocktail spots.
Cocktails can make a party, but when you're hosting, you don't want to muddle or shake every drink to order. So we asked bartenders across the country: What's a great summer drink for a crowd?
We're seeing more and more small-scale distillers popping up around the country (and the world!)—but of course, not every newbie with a pot still is making delicious booze quite yet. Bartenders get a chance to taste all sorts of spirits, so we asked for their tips on the craft distillers that are really making great stuff.
Are more expensive spirits usually better than the bottom-shelf stuff? Sure. But price doesn't always indicate true quality, and sometimes, we just don't have the budget for lots of fancy spirits. We asked bartenders around the country: Which bottles do you find great substitutes for more expensive ingredients?
There's a whole menu in front of you. When you're evaluating a restaurant for a review, what do you pick?
No home bar will ever be as well-stocked as a professional one. But there are some bottles that can let you make dozens of drinks, instantly upping your cocktail game.
A lot of us cocktail enthusiasts are occasional at-home bartenders, trying our own hands at mixing up drinks. But we could all do with a few tips from the pros. We asked bartenders across the country: What do most amateur bartenders get wrong?
There's usually more to a restaurant than the talked-about dishes that helped make them big. Here are some non-signature dishes at popular restaurants that are just as good as the main draw on the menu.
Well spirits are, in a way, the bar's default: when you ask for a vodka-soda or rum and Coke, it's the well vodka or well rum that usually ends up in your drink.
We asked bartenders across the country: How do you prevent (or, barring that, cure) a hangover?
Breweries, wineries, distilleries; Portland, Oregon has them all. Its craft beverage scene is the envy of cities around the nation. But sake? Yep: I visited SakéOne in Forest Grove to view the sake-brewing process firsthand and learn what distinguishes Oregon sake from Japanese.
"My girlfriend and I love the kind of restaurants where you cook your own food, specifically anything with a tabletop grill. I guess it's the interactive part that we find really fun. Any ideas?" Yup.
Fernet and Cynar, Negronis and Boulevardiers—bitter amari, and the cocktails that showcase them, are all the rage these days. But to drinkers unaccustomed to those powerfully bitter flavors, a first sip can be off-putting.
Dinner before drinking—it's generally a good idea.
There are obvious perks to being a bartender—but, just as with any job, there are definitely downsides.
New York, as I see it, is better on weeknights. No fighting your way in to cocktail bars, no two-hour lines for dinner, no amateur-hour drinkers. Here's where I go on those so-called "off-nights."
As with all professions, bartenders have insight into their workplaces that the rest of us can't match. But given that the rest of us hang out at their workplace, we might benefit from learning a tip or two. We asked bartenders across the country: What's one bartender secret that customers don't know?
This week on Ask the Critic: What baked goods make a great hosting gift?
Customers who want "a gin drink... No, maybe whiskey... No, you decide." The drinker who won't leave his neighbor alone. The drinker who's just had one (or five) too many.
What's a fun bar for a birthday party? Suggestions after the jump.
For every intricate cocktail that ends up on a menu at your favorite bar, odds are there were a dozen more drinks that didn't make the cut—some outright failures.
If you've ordered takeout from a Chinese restaurant in your life, you've probably either seen or tasted Kung Pao chicken. And I'll admit that it's a dish I've loved and still enjoy. But the Westernized version is missing the key ingredient that is the star of the authentic Sichuan version, known more commonly as Gong Bao chicken: Sichuan peppercorns. It's their unique, mouth-numbing effect that gives the dish its spicy, warming quality.
When you saw the S'mOreos in our roundup of 14 Things To Make with Oreos, did you think, "Man, if only I could watch an animated gif of a S'mOreos being squished down over and over again for eternity..."? Well, so did we. So did we.
The fine editors at Serious Eats asked me, a 15+ year Dublin bartender, to opine on the best ways to imbibe in my city. This guide is intended for newcomers to Dublin and should give you a very rough idea of where to go and what to drink (whilst simultaneously preventing you from coming to harm on your first night). What happens after that is your own business: I take no responsibility for your safety, wellbeing, personal finances, romantic entanglements, hangovers, the stock market or anything else that happens while you're here. If you go home with stories to tell, well, then you've got the idea.
Let's talk about Restaurant Week. If you don't dine out often, or if you're used to thinking of New York restaurants as prohibitively expensive, it can seem like a great deal. But in the New York of 2012, it's possible to get an excellent 3-course meal for $35 (the Restaurant Week rate) any day of the year. Here are 20 suggestions.
This list rounds up some of the most traditional, classically Brazilian dishes. They are basic dishes that hail from all over: the Northeastern area of the country, the Amazonian jungles, the quick take-away shops in Sao Paulo.
My original plan was ratatouille, one of my absolute favorite seasonal meals. I picked up eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and set about finding a recipe. The problem is, I'm already quite fond of this one and couldn't find another that excited me in the same way. Luckily, I came across a recipe that uses all of the above vegetables, then adds some chickpeas and bell peppers. How could that be bad?
On the Serious Eats calendar, you'll see a big, fat star on November 1st. Why? That's when the Serious Eats book comes out—and we can't wait to share it with all of you.
Few have attempted to try all 33 different flavors of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory; fewer have succeeded without medical assistance. But we've boldly gone where no others have gone before.
When it comes to the Bronx, everyone talks about Arthur Avenue. But few know that there are some tasty options for munching near the Bronx Zoo—aside from the standard, often underwhelming Italian-American sit-downs over in Fordham-Belmont. From roti in Allerton to Albanian burek on Arthur Avenue and Yemeni food in Van Nest, there are plenty of interesting options. So if you're heading up to the Bronx to hang with the gorillas and the giraffes this summer, make sure to check out our guide to what's worth eating close by first.
A first look at the vendors at the Brooklyn Flea's new food market, Smorgasburg.
When I heard that work was taking me to Dallas, I put out a note on various social networking sites, asking for a recommendation for a good burger. Several chains were mentioned, but just one local joint came to the surface: Twisted Root Burger Company.
It's hard work, but someone had to do it: hunt down the best falafel sandwich in New York. What makes it the best? Falafel with crispy shells and tender interiors, not too dry, with a good internal balance of chickpea, parsley, and spice; pita that's fresh-tasting and delicious; sauces and toppings that add to the total package. Here's the Top 7, ending with our winner—the best falafel in New York.
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, chef-owners of the proudly Italian-American Torrisi Italian Specialties, prove in their recently-launched dinner service that their understanding of serious food extends far beyond red sauce. Having eaten the insanely good sandwiches and side dishes at Torrisi for lunch a number of times, I thought that when we walked through the door at Torrisi for dinner, we were going to find elevated southern Italian red-sauce specialties—something like what the Frankies, Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, do so very well at Frankie's 457 and their other ventures. That would have been good enough for me. But dinner at Torrisi Italian Specialties is a culinary and gustatory tour de force.
New York's never been a great pie town. We have lots of great baked goods and lots of talented pastry chefs, but somehow our pies have never made it onto my nationwide pie honor roll. But with artisanally inspired handmade food in Brooklyn appearing at every corner and market, and the borough's do-it-yourself food culture growing ever-larger, we knew that a pie culture couldn't be far behind. Pies 'N Thighs started it, and now to pie lover's rescue come two pie companies—Four and Twenty Blackbirds and First Prize Pies.
Bread baskets are one of the greatest pleasures of dining out. Have you ever eaten a bread basket that was so delicious you couldn't stop eating it? Or one that even out-shined your actual meal? We have—and since New York City is a bastion of the impressive bread basket, we set out to determine our favorites.
If you asked me ten years ago if I would ever consider becoming a vegetarian, my answer would have been, "Hell no," followed by a string of surprisingly vicious obscenities. You might have cried. And I wouldn't have felt bad about it afterward. But dishes like this West African Vegetable Stew are just as filling and flavorful as meaty ones. Healthy as hell and simple to make, it possesses a wonderful sweet heat and heartiness.
[Photos: Carey Jones, Patrick Gorman] Every now and then, when we write about a place that's managed to stay on the edge of the media spotlight, we get a few angry emails. Well, we get the appreciative ones first—"This...
After my first fast-food foray, the Mac Snack Wrap, Serious Eats asked me to compare Burger King's new XT sandwich and McDonald's Angus Burger. I was ecstatic about a second chance to review products from two of our nation's iconic chains. But how do you taste a freshly, um, manufactured Burger King burger next to a McDonald's Angus and not have the contest be biased towards the home restaurant? Solution: home and away games, Champion's League-style.
Any food lover traveling to Paris could easily spend weeks, months, or years gobbling up all the serious eats the City of Lights has to offer. From the brasseries, boulangeries, the bistros, and beyond, it's almost too much to take in. So we decided to turn to our friend David Lebovitz to get a handle on a manageable bite of the France's capital city — its baked goods.
Rendang are dishes that are as integral to Malaysian cookery as laksas or satays. A rendang is a dish of meat stewed slowly in a coconut-curry liquid. Aromatic pastes are added in the beginning. As the meat stews in the paste and coconut milk mixture, the liquid reduces until only the oils of the coconut milk remain. To finish, the meat is lightly browned in the remaining coconut oil. The resulting dish is intensely flavorful and tender yet crisp and sticky on the outside with bits of browned aromatics.
Bowls received thumbs-up all around, thanks to the saffron-infused broth and bursts of fresh lemon and cilantro in this Moroccan-Style Chickpea Soup. It's similar to Harira soup, a Moroccan dish traditionally served during Ramadan, which I would eat on any holiday.
Not to be confused with the other two inferior Ali's Roti Shops in Brooklyn, Ali's Trinidad & Tobago Roti Deli Grocery in Bed-Stuy serves what are probably the best doubles ($1.25) this side of Trinidad. For a quarter of the cost of a Di Fara slice, you get a sweet and spicy chickpea curry that's flavored with tamarind and sandwiched between two disks of turmeric-scented deep-fried, naan-like bread known as "bara."
There are few food smells quite as hypnotic as the Cinnabon smell. You know it. At just about any mall food court, airport, or train station, it's there lingering, taunting you. But after 25 years, the Cinnabon counter is making room for a new dessert—and it doesn't even have an addictive aroma. The cupcake.
What makes a really good roasted chicken sandwich? Really good roasted chicken. That's what you'll find in the pollo hero ($6.50) at Milanes, a Dominician lunch counter in Chelsea.