Robert Simonson

Robert Simonson writes about cocktails, spirits and bars for the New York Times. He is the author of The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail (2014) and A Proper Drink (September 2016).

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In Search of the Ultimate Manhattan

We asked 17 of America’s best bartenders to submit their finest recipe for the Manhattan—then blind-tasted them all to find the best of the best. Robert Simonson on the search for the ideal Manhattan, and what we learned about the drink along the way.

Inside the Bars That Kicked Off San Francisco’s Cocktail Renaissance

Most of the bars that sparked San Francisco’s cocktail renaissance still remain as relevant as ever. Here, Robert Simonson and Kelly Puleio go on a tour of the places—and drinks—that started it all.

How Do Bartenders Select Their Spirits?

Amidst today’s ever-expanding spirits landscape, how do bartenders go about selecting that one perfect brand for each drink?

A Bar Crawl Through the Craft Cocktail Revival

Most of the bars that kicked off the NYC cocktail revival are still as relevant as ever. Robert Simonson and Daniel Krieger go on a tour of the bars (and drinks) that started it all.

What Should a Sidecar Really Taste Like?

A bona fide Prohibition-era classic, the Sidecar has struggled to successfully re-emerge in an era bent on retooling old recipes. Robert Simonson on why a good version of the drink is so elusive, and whether there’s a modern archetype to be found.

Vodka’s Unsung Role in the Cocktail Renaissance

As the preferred spirit of the masses, vodka has become the victim of mixology dogma—with some bartenders going so far as to blacklist it from their menus. But the spirit has played a significant, albeit overlooked, role in the cocktail revolution.

On the Enduring Influence of Sasha Petraske

In early January, a collection of bartenders who all worked with the late Sasha Petraske gathered to remember this man of outsized influence on the craft cocktail movement. Below is an edited transcript of that conversation, moderated by Robert Simonson.

The Craft Cocktail Menu Gets Conceptual

Rather than simply changing with the seasons, some notable cocktail bars are adopting menus that adhere to a (often intangible) theme, like Route 66 or Civil War treason, where the drinks are part of the narrative. Robert Simonson on the rise of the “concept menu” and what’s inspiring it.

The Gonzo Age of the Cocktail Garnish

Once a utility player in the cocktail game largely used to add flavor to a drink, garnishes have gone from understudy to center stage. Robert Simonson on how the garnish became theater and what it says about the state of cocktails today.

How Cocktail Bars Are Borrowing Each Others’ Style

From iconic floors to signature glassware, the same bar design elements are popping up around the world thanks to traveling bartenders who look to their peers for inspiration. Robert Simonson on the cocktail world’s sincerest form of flattery.