Zeke Emanuel reviews the newest addition to Charlie Trotter's menu--non-alcoholic drinks paired with food in a tasting menu. This new trend gives succor, release, permission, and relief to people who don't or can't drink alcohol.
Abstinence will I suspect be on the rise, as the longtime findings about the healthful effects of a modest amount of alcohol come into question--not to mention the 24-hour news cycle that the President may wryly say he's not on but the rest of us are. So hangovers of the sort Derek Brown mentions as a panel subject of a cocktail convention he's attending again this year in New Orleans are a rare treat for most of us--as charming as the notion of attending the panel in a bathrobe, as Brown did, is.
And there's a thirst for new, liquefied flavor combinations, with and without alcohol. Our own Gus Rancatore told me the other day that's he collecting them in every cookbook and Website he can, to give him more ideas for ice creams and sorbets. As summer finally arrives, herb-minded chefs like Rick Bayless, whose Chicago rooftop garden was shown as an example of how chefs grow close to the kitchen, and Charles Draghi, a Boston chef who does grow herbs at home--so many that he picked a name for his restaurant, Erbaluce, that includes the Italian word for "herb"--look for new uses, and infusions in drinks as well as sauces are the new route.
Cocktail menu pairings have been in fashion a while, as mixologists like our Brown have vied with chefs in creativity; they'll feature in the convention he's going to this year (he gets to pair his with steaks). Zeke's post points a way forward for the chef-minded mixologists like Brown, and like the many movingly mentioned in Kim Severson's interesting piece about abstaining bartenders in yesterday's Times, which also featured a lightly devilish bartender's dictionary by Pete Wells--packed with enough information and charm to keep drinkers and abstainers alike lubricated for the season.