Archive for November, 2005

Giving Wine the Bird

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

This is pretty last minute, but what kind of wine should I serve with Thanksgiving dinner? We’re having the usual stuff. — Todd

Young fellow, first be sure that, whether muscatel or Margaux, the wine is wine you like. There’s nothing sillier than running off and buying six bottles that some critic has anointed (even such an authority as myself), only to find that, to you, the stuff tastes like plonk. A holiday feast is a time for family and familiarity, not first-time meetings.

As for myself, I prefer to explore the dustiest alcoves of my wine cellar in search of lost treasure — I enjoy the childlike delight on my guests’ faces when I uncork a 1929 Latour — but the great Bordeaux and I are old, old friends.

Beyond all that, be sure that it’s wine you want, not something else. Wine is, of course, the only civilized mealtime drink, but perhaps you have only a passing acquaintance with civilized society. Nothing to be ashamed of! Many a trembling punter steels himself for a trip to the wine merchant, feeling only wine will do for the festive occasion. But if he loves beer, so be it — though a well-laid table deserves quality ale, not lager in cans.

And if, perchance, you find the cocktail hour extends through the dinner hour, and your guests clamor not for wine but for another Manhattan — well, a good host pleases his guests, rather than enforcing his will upon them. Enjoy your peculiar American holiday.

Gin Sling

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Dinner last night at a wonderful Punjabi restaurant, the service spot on. Really reminded me of India under the Raj. I had several of these before the main course, and felt the November winds turn balmy as a Devonshire breeze. Most recipes don’t call for bitters, but there were certainly bitters in my drink, and I believe this approximates what my man Mukesh was pouring.

1 teaspoon superfine sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces gin
several dashes Angostura bitters

Dissolve the sugar in the water, then add everything else. Swirl it around in a jug of ice and then strain it over ice cubes in a rocks glass (what the bartending guides always insist on calling an “old-fashioned glass”). Just the thing while you wait for your tandoori lamb chops.

Bankhead on Bourbon

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

Coming to her senses as she takes leave of them.

“Codeine . . . bourbon.”
— Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968