New brunch cocktails bring a much-needed jolt to the senses.

August 28 2011 8:00 PM

Like the way Italians drink their coffee? Try their cocktails.

When did we become such perfectionists about our drinks? The question seems more pertinent if you've spent time watching the cute and serious baristas of Stumptown's new 'brew bar' in Red Hook, Brooklyn, tinkering with their complicated array of coffee makers, or observed the bartenders at Manhattan's Little Branch, earnestly shaking and stirring and tasting.

July 19 2011 8:00 PM

We've grown thoroughly accustomed to the locavore food movement and its holistic approach to regionally sourced ingredients, but lately that movement has begun to colonize a very different industry. Head to your local liquor store, and chances are you'll see something new nestling among the familiar brands. Small-batch producers of gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, and even absinthe are springing up all over America. Their products are often organic and more freewheeling in their inventiveness (Kaffir lime vodka?

February 03 2011 7:00 PM

In terms of sheer thirst-quenching perfection, the summer of 2010 belonged to gin. And cucumber. You might attribute that trend to Hendrick's, an upstart gin from Scotland with strong cucumber overtones, but two of the best cocktails we enjoyed this year fell back on old-school Beefeater and Gordon's. Both are variations on a classic, and both hopscotched the Atlantic, drawing inspiration from London and the United States.

November 02 2010 8:00 PM

Despite the best efforts of the resourceful Eric Seed, whose liquor importing company, Haus Alpenz, has unearthed many hitherto elusive spirits from around the globe, it is still nearly impossible to get your hands on a bottle of cr'me de m're in the United States. That's a shame, since this blackberry liqueur from England is the central ingredient in the bramble cocktail, a mid-'80s confection from London that combines gin, lemon juice, and cr'me de m're to superb effect.

August 15 2010 8:00 PM

For a cocktail so widespread and well-loved, the margarita has a surprisingly murky genesis. One of the most intriguing tales, as expounded by the cocktail historian David Wondrich, places its birth near Tijuana in the 1920s or 1930s. The story goes that while assembling a daisy (a drink typically made with brandy and spiked with orange cordial), a bartender mistakenly grabbed a bottle of tequila. Thus, the margarita -- Spanish for daisy -- was born.

July 13 2010 8:00 PM

In the '80s, certain wines seemed to exist only as punch lines to jokes about crass taste. One was the sweet German white wine Liebfraumilch (aka Blue Nun), another the sparkling Italian red wine Lambrusco. If these were spoken of at all it was usually in tones of condescension and with a strangled pronunciation. Gee, those commoners sure are dumb. But in the last few years, many of those wines have been rediscovered by a new generation of drinkers grown jaded by the idea that good wine has to be complicated or French or both.

June 08 2010 8:00 PM

There's a wonderfully acerbic scene in Roman Polanski's claustrophobic new movie, The Ghost Writer, in which Ewan McGregor, dining alone with the prime minister's wife, discards his glass of white wine for a tumbler of Scotch. 'White wine -- I've never seen the point of it,' he says. It's meant to signal his gaucheness, but it also feels utterly cool and enticing. You leave the movie wanting to follow suit.

April 29 2010 8:00 PM