The Gin Hound. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.


I awoke to a morning so deathly gray I felt I’d awakened in a cave. It wasn’t early, 7:30, not school-time early as spring break is still in effect. So the sun had surely risen but had there been no clock, it would have been anybody’s guess.

Deep Cleveland winter drags on. Donna, light-sensitive and not used to such long sun withdrawals, is particularly affected by that light disorder thing, whose acronym I don’t even like to write, and wants to hibernate like a bear till May. Skip the cruelest month altogether. The grayness not only deepens the hay-hue of dull dead grass, freed from the snow at last, the brown tree branches, it dulls the senses as well. The wind outside my window, and inside my chest, blows with a kind of Last Picture Show desolation.

I have no desire to work—make the final edits of a cookbook review for the Wall Street Journal, proof the final words of a new manuscript, begin reading first-pass pages of the next book, which remain contained by large rubber bands I have no interest in removing.

Turning to the op-ed pages of The Gray Lady, I find a fellow, but nonnative, Clevelander, novelist and teacher Alissa Nutting, writing about her own attempts to supplement a light-deprived soul. Her verdict: the “happy lamp” helps a little but nothing can replace genuine sunlight. The real deal. The life-giving sun.

So today’s cocktail is a bitter one, the grapefruit of winter, but the auspicious sunniness of lemon juice, balanced with the sweetness of vermouth. I’d come across this elixir just yesterday, while perusing Food52, a site whose design I adore and whose content I admire. Created by Julia Davis, a Bay Area transplant who works at Citizen Engagement Lab, this cocktail seemed to be the perfect blend of winter and hope (I’ve upped the sweetness slightly). Even the name, Gin Hound, playing on the Greyhound, has a kind of hangdog feel to it. And yet the gin is bracing, the citrus refreshing, and end notes of bitterness all too appropriate for the season.

Cheers to all, and dammit, at least it’s Friday!

The Gin Hound

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • lemon slice for garnish
  1. Combine the liquids in a double old-fashioned glass, add ice, garnish with lemon.
  2. Flip winter the bird.

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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.




15 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: The Gin Hound”

  • Tags

    Of course it’s a long winter, and I blame technology. With all the TV cameras and lights around Punxsutawney Phil, he saw two shadows.

  • May

    Quitcher bitchin, Michael – at least your snow has gone! Up here in Ontario we’ve still got a couple of feet on the ground, and out in the Maritimes they had the mither of all snowstorms in the last couple of days, dumping another 50cm of the grey stuff.

    Hope you had your cocktail already this morning: gin’s not just for breakfast, you know.

  • Anthony

    Mr. Ruhlman, you and Alton Brown have convinced me to move beyond craft beer and into the world of cocktails.

    Any book recommendations for someone entirely new to this world?

    • Michael Ruhlman

      The standard bartenders guide, bitters by brad parsons, and See, Mix, Drink are currently on my desk.

      • Anthony

        Thanks for taking the time to respond and for lengthening my wishlist.

  • Allen

    Wife’s birthday, her call… White Negroni’s, crab legs and champagne, prime rib eyes and Zinfandel.

    In Vegas for Bobby Flay burgers, Gordon Ramsey – meh…, Hurbert Keller and bikini bull riding. Burgers, affordable luxury here.

    She has great taste and knows how to party

  • Susan

    I was already settling in for a good yarn about the bleak Cleveland winter when you switched gears to booze. Write us a story.

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  • Michael Trippe

    Michael – Being in Rochester, NY my wife is also affected by ‘that which will not be named’ every year. A few years ago she started to go tanning just during Jan/Feb and found it improved her overall mood/outlook better than any ‘happy light’ could.

    Oh – and your recipe is on my list of things to try ASAP.

    Thank you for sharing… and love the new website.

  • David

    Michael, Dude!!!

    Apologies for hijacking the thread, but…

    Essentials in the kitchen:
    1. Michael Ruhlman’s The Elements of Cooking. Just the handy little compendium/reference you need. Keep it close at hand.
    2. Kindle Fire. Where you keep your formulas (ratios), record your notes, develop your recipes and polish techniques. Obviously, some people would do this on their iPads.

    Useless in the kitchen:
    1. Michael Ruhlman’s The Elements of Cooking, Kindle edition.

    No letter-by-letter table of contents. No index. Searching is nearly useless because it finds all instances of the word you’re looking for – not the beginning of your entry on the subject. No, you just scoll. Page. By. Page.

    You’ll want to be brandishing something heavy and obviously capable of inflicting bodily harm while “discussing” these oversights with your editors. Your message should be as clear as your writing.

    I wouldn’t write this if I had fewer than five of your books. Again, my apologies for hijacking the thread. Now back to gin.

  • France

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article
    and also the rest of the website is extremely good.


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