I drove 3,000 miles with my then-fiancée for a bit of whimsy and a lot of barbecue. Then I wrote it all up for the front page of The New York Times Travel section.
After several mostly organic conversations, I had to do a write-up on what lesser-known products were driving the imaginations of bartenders. Toby Cecchini, Eric Alperin and others didn't require a lot of prodding to go on about their favorite unsung heroes. It ran in the Sunday Styles section with one of my photographs, and was reprinted in the "New School" chapter of "The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails."
Pizza boxes, lime in a bottle, and stacks of hardcover recipe books. Foodies create some interesting trash, so I had a conversation with Boston Assistant Superintendent Waste Reduction on common pitfalls in trying to reduce waste from throwing a party. It ran online at BonAppetit.com.
Conversations with prominent barbecue personalities, including "the Legend" Mike Mills, about how they barbecue while on the road without sacrificing quality. Giant and customized multi-thousand dollar rigs were the answer. A service section followed on more affordable rigs our readers can buy today to take their love of 'cue on the road. It ran online at BBC.com/Autos.
Not many know about Brennivín, Iceland's most beloved liquor, but those that do adore it. It's taken a while for it to get to the States, but the intrepid Joe Spiegel, who I got to interview for this piece, looks everywhere to connect with enthusiasts. Instagram led him to bartender and gin enthusiast Chaim Dauermann and, almost immediately after, the Stone Crush was on the NYC bar scene.
Shortly after being named a James Beard Foundation Award recipient, I was able to meet up with Dale DeGroff at his friend's birthday party for a quick interview. We talked about seasonal drinking, soppressata, his eponymous line of bitters and, of course, the Rainbow Room. Afterwards, I realized no other JBF Award recipient has ever been an honest-to-goodness cocktail shaker. Before Dale, they had never existed alongside the JBF!
This story was a tough sell but, shortly after I pitched it, Pete Wells gave the Eddy a NYT Critic's Pick, and so my editor caved. Kelvin Uffre is a pleasure to talk to, and remains one of my favorite bartenders. His punch is the perfect metaphor for his bar: this flurry of small courtesies and classy touches makes even five minutes at the Eddy a true pleasure.
Mace had just opened but, given the success of Miracle on 9th Street, the pop-up bar that Mace grew out of, everyone knew it would be a hit. United Labor made us a gorgeous video of Nico de Soto shaking up his Thai Chili cocktail, and I talked with him about how, even in 80-degree heat, and egg white can be refreshing.