CLIP | Nina Simone, “My Baby,” 1980s

COCKTAILS | Putting on the Ritz

The RitzDale DeGroff’s Ritz cocktail.

Among the splendid Christmas loot I received this year was a copy of cocktail impresario Dale DeGroff’s “The Essential Cocktail.” The gift came from Mrs. F. and she’s been helping select and score its offerings.

DeGroff, who revived the cocktail menu during a stint as head bartender at the Rainbow Room in the 1980s, is arguably the father of the contemporary cocktail revival. In his volume, published in 2008, he includes lists of classics, adapted classics and some of his own adventurous creations. We’ve only dabbled in the first two categories so far. Among our favorite recipes is the Ritz, a cognac and champagne concoction DeGroff created in the 1980s. It graces the book’s cover and, while designed as a variation of the Champagne pick-me-up, it is definitely an evening cocktail.

For more of DeGroff’s work, go to his King Cocktail.

• 3/4 ounce cognac
• 1/2 ounce Cointreau
• 1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
• 1/2 ounce lemon juice
• Champagne
• Orange peel (optional: flamed)

Stir together the cognac, Luxardo, lemon juice and Cointreau over ice in a mixing glass. Serve in a cocktail glass, topping off with champagne and garnishing with the orange peel.

CLIP | ‘I wish I knew,’ 1980s

CLIP | ‘Henry V,’ St. Crispin’s Day

CLIP | ‘Two-fisted, Double-jointed,’ Alberta Hunter, 1981

CLIP | Oscar Peterson and Dick Cavett, 1980s

CLIP | Baker and Morrison, live in 1986

CLIP | MGMT, ‘Naive Melody,’ 2003

LIVES | Bill Evans, piano genius, 1929-1980

Bill Evans, the noted jazz pianist, would have been 81 years old today had he not died on Sept. 15, 1980. Astute readers already know I’m a huge devotee of Evans’ as his work is often featured in the Clips section of

I’ve been aware of Evans since I made a poor effort of playing piano for the Morristown-Beard jazz ensemble, but I never really focused on his terrific oeuvre until I lived in Lake Placid. There, over the course of several dinner parties at the home of contributor Steve Reynolds, I rediscovered Evans.

William John Evans was born Aug. 16, 1929 in Plainfield, N.J. He attended Southern Louisiana University on a music scholarship, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950. Active in New York after his service, he back Miles Davis for part of 1958. Shortly thereafter, he recorded “Everybody Digs Bill Evans, but returned to Davis to record “Kind of Blue,” for which he apparently penned “Blue in Green.”

Evans started his own trio in 1959 and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Among his many collaborators were Monica Zetterlund and Stan Getz. Evans was a master. His life was cut short by more than 20 years of heroin and then cocaine abuse.

Here’s a little selection of some of my favorite Evans tracks:

CLIP | Talking Heads, ‘Naive Melody,’ 1984

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