Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two at the Most: Put Up Your Dukes!

Note:  “Two at the Most” is a column written by my husband, Steve Ello, focusing on craft cocktails.  And I see here that he’s straying into my territory, with this description of a mouth-watering meal that I’m very, very sorry to have missed!

Put Up Your Dukes!

By Steve Ello

If you ever make it to Charleston, SC, I would encourage y’all to carve out some time to eat, and imbibe, at FIG (which stands for Food Is Good; Located at 223 Meeting Street, it is a short block or two away from The Charleston Place Hotel. 

And, let me assure you, the food at FIG is very good!  Recommended by a colleague/friend from Chicago— whose brother works at FIG for cocktails—I was amazed at the food:  Light and airy Ricotta Gnocchi with a wonderful Bolognese sauce, followed by crisp Thackery Farms Suckling Pig Confit ,and a wonderfully sweet, round and just-right Sorghum Cake and a dollop of coffee ice cream. I now know why people rave about gnocchi.  If it was only this good all of the time….  Each course was incredibly well balanced, beautifully presented and just the right portion size.

Prior to, and in between the food, I was able to sample several of the restaurant’s cocktails.  Andrew was mixing the drinks the night I was in. One of the unique features of the restaurant is its “Manhattan Menu,” which allows you to select one ingredient from each column to make your own personalized Manhattan (one bourbon or rye, one sweet vermouth, and one bitter).  It’s a great idea that allows you to try some things you might not normally purchase without investing in multiple bottles.  I experimented with a mixture of the old and new—Old Granddad Bonded Bourbon, Cocchi Vermouth Torino, and Angostura Aromatic Bitters.

With my main course, I sampled a cocktail off the menu called the Pugilist.  It is a wonderful mixture of Rye, Applejack, Madeira and Barenjager Honey Liqueur (  It was a drink with multiple layers, yet still packed a subtle punch.  As the night concluded, Andrew was gracious enough to ignore my Northern Virginia accent and kind enough to provide me with the following recipe, which was developed by the team behind the bar at FIG.


1oz     Rye (Any brand should be fine but two of my go-to ryes are Rittenhouse or Bulleit Rye)
1oz     Applejack (I used what I had, which was Laird’s)
.75 oz Madeira (I purchased an inexpensive bottle for under $10 that was suitable)
.25 oz Barenjager Honey Liqueur (This may be a little hard to find depending on where you live but will keep for a while, as it is liqueur.)

Fill a mixing glass half full with ice.  Add the ingredients in the order above, and stir until well chilled. Serve up, with a lemon twist.

So, you can always put up your dukes…but after a wonderful meal, some stellar cocktails, and great conversation, there is definitely no need to fight when you are at FIG.

P.S.  This holiday season I am determined to try my hand at either homemade Egg Nog or the Tom and Jerry.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Note:  I’m definitely looking forward to this experiment!


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