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Writer, photographer and designer of SLOSHED!, a cocktail blog that focuses on cocktails, spirits, home bartending and entertaining.
Spring peas! Straight out of the pod is the best.
I haven't seen true apricot (or peach) brandy on the shelf much of anywhere, but the Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot is truly delicious and versatile. I've had great results using it in the Hotel Nacional, and anywhere else I could shoehorn it in. Good call on the Stone Fruit Sour, Paul! Love that drink.
eaguk: The sweet vermouth definitely counterbalances, but sloe gin is not usually bitter. Tart, I would say. And though blackthorn bushes are a member of the plum family, their fruit is colloquially known as a berry, especially by the people who historically made sloe gin at home. It isn't the proper botanical classification, but it is accurate insofar as that is how most people know the plant and its fruit.
Mike, Drake and dg: This would be good with Laird's Bonded, provided you can handle the higher proof—it has such great flavor, though, I find it hard to mind. Leopold's Apple Whiskey would no doubt be good as well, and there are a number of other producers who make delicious apple brandies: Westford Hill, Osocalis, Germain-Robin and more I haven't tried yet.
pamstar: The orange and cherry are a bone of contention amongst Old-Fashioned drinkers. Though the fruit is popular, I find that it distracts from the flavor of the spirit and so I never use them. Never fear, though, I'm sure I'll feature some drinks that use a muddler in the future!
FlyingBadgerMan: Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters are good here, but I prefer their Whiskey Barrel Aged vintage bitters. Pricier, but the flavor is excellent.
Having lived in Southern California my entire life, I've tried more mezcal than your average bear. I'm starting to see more on store shelves, though it's still relatively unpopular at bars here compared to the menus in San Francisco.
And I can vouch for the Los Danzantes; the blanco is such a fantastic product, I can't wait to see what other products we're going to see in the near future.
My personal favorite vegetarian cookbook of all time is Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. Her recipes can be time-consuming, but the book is wonderfully expansive and full of a lifetime of experience cooking vegetarian (and tips for people who have never seen amaranth or mustard greens before).
As for online stuff, some of my favorites:
I absolutely plan ahead. I try to make the same thing over a couple nights in some form or another so I can use up what I buy (right now I'm on a salad niçoise kick for dinner because it's so damn hot). If I don't plan ahead I wind up with tons of beautiful impulse-purchased items that go to waste.
Best find was definitely a barely used salad spinner, retail $35, for $5. And the brand new espresso maker for $5 (wedding gift, never used) was pretty awesome. I think that model retailed for about $50. Most of my other appliances have been gifted or handed down to me, but I definitely keep an eye out at yard sales!
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