Showing posts from November, 2021

Be Prepared

I absolutely love this season. I don't mean Christmas - there'll be time enough for celebrating that come the end of December. The season I mean is Advent - the last few weeks of preparation before Christmas really begins. In Christian communities, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, and so it has begun today. It is a time of heightened spiritual activity, extra efforts to be generous or compassionate, a more disciplined approach to prayer and spiritual reading. In the Orthodox Churches it is a time of strict fasting, too, and Catholics are encouraged to attend confession. It hardly sounds fun, does it, so why do I enjoy it so much? I think I have come to appreciate Advent as a buffer-zone against the somewhat frantic, enforced jollity of Christmas. There are all sorts of jobs to be done to ensure our home is clean & tidy and ready to receive guests. Food has to be made early, gifts must be bought, wrapped and delivered, cards written and sent. It can be overwhelmi

Cocktail Magic

Q.: I've been making cocktails at home for a while and I think I'm pretty good at it. When I go to a cocktail bar, though, the drinks I'm served seem to have that extra bit of magic that I don't achieve at home. I follow the recipes carefully but don't seem to get the same results. Where am I going wrong? A.:  The first thing to say is that you're not going wrong. By following those well-known recipes, you can be sure of consistent results, and if you and your guests enjoy them, you're doing everything right. I'm guessing from your question, though, that you're aiming to make, not just good cocktails, but great ones. That's where things get tricky. You see, cocktail waiters are notoriously individualistic in their work. They all want to make the greatest Martini there ever was, the most interesting Negroni or the subtlest Alexander. To achieve this, they have to stray from the classic recipes and bring in elements from elsewhere. The most common