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The Next Big Thing in Cocktails? This Fortified Wine August 25 2016

Here's your one-stop shop to learn about sherry.

For many—well, for me—sherry conjures memories of furtively swigging a sweet, creamy substance from a sticky bottle stowed in the back of grandma's cupboard when no one was watching. Despite its low-quality reputation, the fortified wine is one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated categories in the world of wines and spirits.

But that's about to change: as we learned at this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in late July—think Comic-Con for the booze industry—sherry is the next big thing.

With varieties spanning the spectrum from thin and dry to viscous and sweet, the beverage is anything but new: It has been made in Spain for centuries and was integral to that county's culture well before the British brought it home as a spoil of war in the late 16th Century. Stateside, it enjoyed early, immense popularity (we're talking colonial-times early). The sherry cobbler—a mix of sherry, sugar, and citrus served over crushed ice—was so trendy in 19th Century America that it led to the rise of the straw so that those with rotted teeth could sip their cocktails pain-free.

Post-Prohibition, sherry was gradually pigeonholed as the forgettable sweet aperitif synonymous with brands like Harvey's Bristol Cream—a bastardization of the traditional form. Dry sherries were nowhere to be found. Thus, with the rise of dry wine's popularity in the second half of the Twentieth Century, sherry fell out of favor, tarnished by its false reputation of always having a cloying sweetness. "It's a great lesson in how fashion so often fails us," says Talia Baiocchi, author of Sherry(2014) and co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine PUNCH.

Today, dry sherry is gaining traction. Part of that is the evolution of the American palate toward acidic, savory, and bitter flavors. Another is that chefs and sommeliers are realizing it pairs together well with food, from oysters to shrimp to Iberico ham. But its revival can be largely attributed to bartenders who've rediscovered its important role in many classic cocktail recipes. "The reclamation of sherry as a classic cocktail ingredient—and, perhaps more importantly, as a modern one—really acted as the gateway for sherry back into the consumer's consciousness," says Baiocchi.

WHAT IS SHERRY?

Certain aspects of sherry production remain constant: By law, it is made from white grapes grown in the "Sherry Triangle" anchored by the city of Jerez de la Frontera in the southwestern Spanish province of Cadiz, in which the very light, chalky soil, calledalbariza, uniquely maintains moisture during the rain-deprived summer months. The grapes are fermented, the resulting wine is blended with a grape spirit to up the alcohol content, and the boozy liquid is aged in barrels that are stored aboveground (as opposed to in a cellar). All sherries are produced using the solera method—in which different vintages are combined during years of barrel aging to create the final product.

 

But that's where the similarities from one bottle to the next end. A good sherry's flavor profile is extremely complex, and can range from notes of citrus, yeast, or sweet caramel on the nose followed by salty, savory, or nutty flavors on the tongue.

Many factors affect the end result—the location of the vineyard (or bodega) in relation to the nearby Atlantic Ocean, the alcohol content (ranging from 15% to 22%). But what most defines the style of sherry is the level of exposure to flor—a layer of yeast that grows at the top of most dry sherry barrels as they age, which prevents oxidation to varying degrees depending on how much the yeasty cap covers. Oxidized styles such as oloroso have shed their bright-fruit flavors entirely, giving way to more candied-fruit and nutty flavors. Sherries that have been partly or wholly protected from oxidation must be treated like other wine after opening—they should be consumed quickly to be fully enjoyed before losing freshness. I don't think Grandma realized that.

As sherry's popularity returns, so too has the interest in innovative production methods. One such style is known as en rama, in which bottling takes place when the juice is unfiltered, resulting in a cloudy liquid with more minerality. "En rama is one of the more fascinating developments of late," says Rafael Mateo, owner of New York City's Pata Negra, a Spanish-style wine bar featuring a long list of sherries. "It is pure. It is all the rage now."

In order of lowest to highest exposure to oxidation, here are the most common styles of dry sherry and a recommended bottle for each:


STYLE: FINO

Description: The classic and most widely available style. A full flor cap covers the barrel as it ages, and the spirit is therefore not exposed to air at all.

Bottle Recommendation: Equipo Navazos Macharnudo ($$$)


STYLE: MANZANILLA

Description: This sub-style of fino "must be made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda," says Mateo. This particular bottle is in the en rama style.

Bottle Recommendation: Barbadillo Solear en Rama ($)


STYLE: AMONTILLADO

Description: This style of sherry is partially aged with a full flor before being exposed to oxidation in the barrel. Mateo describes the style as "brown, dry, nutty, and complex."

Bottle Recommendation: Lustau Los Arcos ($)


STYLE: PALO CORTADO

Description: The most enigmatic of dry sherries, this style falls somewhere between amontillado and oloroso on the oxidation spectrum and is classified as such at the discretion of the winemaker.

Bottle Recommendation: Rey Fernando de Castilla Antique ($$)


STYLE: OLOROSO

Description: This style is is wholly exposed to oxidation during barrel aging, giving it a darker color and richness.

Bottle Recommendation: El Maestro Sierra 15 anos ($)

 

SHERRY, STIRRED

Sherry's return to cocktail menus has been as a sort of Trojan Horse, appearing first as a modifier rather than a base. (An explanation of those terms by way of example: gin or vodka is the base of a Martini, and vermouth is the modifier.) While speaking at a seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, Michael Callahan, General Manager and founding bartender of Singapore's 28 Hong Kong Street, said, "You're not seeing it used as a base that often." But he believes that the more bartenders incorporate it, the more popular it will become: "By educating staff and patrons, they are going to start wanting more of it."

In that spirit, here are a few of our favorites—one old, one adapted from a classic, and one new—to get you started ahead of the inevitable curve.


UP-TO-DATE

Adapted from: Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Hugo R. Ensslin (1916)

Ingredients:

1.25 oz Amontillado Sherry

1.25 oz Rye

0.25 oz Grand Marnier

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Lemon twist, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Add all ingredients except the garnish, to a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the lemon twist.


ADONIS

From: Evan Bucholz, Brix and Rye, Greenport, NY

Background: While its exact origin is unknown, the cocktail was named after the play, "Adonis," which debuted at the Bijou Theater on Broadway in 1884. This recipe is an interpretation of the original, which called only for two parts "dry sherry" and one part sweet vermouth.

Ingredients:

1 oz Sweet Vermouth (preferably Carpano Antica)

1 oz Amontillado Sherry

1 oz Fino Sherry

Lemon twist, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients except the lemon twist in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until chilled. Strain the cocktail into a cocktail glass. Express the oils from the lemon twist over the glass and drop it in as garnish.


EUROPEAN UNION

From: John Myers, Bar Manager, Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, Maine

Ingredients:

2.5 oz amontillado

1 oz Byrhh

0.75 oz Aperol

Grapefruit twist, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Add all ingredients except the garnish, to a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe. Express the oils from a wide grapefruit twist over the glass and garnish with the spent twist.


If You Think You're Tough, Watch This Man Wrestle Sharks! July 29 2016

Elliot Sudal went viral last summer. This year, things are different. 

Elliot Sudal caught a few sharks from the shoreline this morning. Got them on the line, reeled them in, pulled them onto the sand, affixed a tag to their backs. Then, after a quick measurement and a quicker picture, back into the Nantucket waters they went. He's at 49 sharks this year. So far.

Last summer, a video of Sudal, 27, wrestling a shark went viral, getting picked by Good Morning America and pulling in over 3 million hits on YouTube. He flashed across computer screens, the bro in the Chubbies and the shark-tooth necklace—made from the tooth of a 25-footer strung with the first line he ever caught a shark on—with an apparent death wish. Angry emailers told him they hoped "a shark drags you underwater and takes a photo of you." Another asked asked, "How loud was your Nickelback playing in your pickup truck?"

Virality brought on other changes. For one, Sudal got tapped by NOAA to put his talent to use. Now, he collects data from the sharks he catches, tagging them for research purposes. And this summer he got $1,500 shark bite insurance so the Snapchatting beach hoards can't sue him should anything horrible happen, god forbid.

 

Sudal can't do this forever. When he stops, he'll be immortalized as the Saltwater Cowboy, the Shark Wrestler, and, if things go the way he wants, an author with a TV show. But for now, it's as good—and as ballsy, and as extreme—a gig as any. We talked to him about his work.

ESQ: What's your day job?

Sudal: This is it. I take people shark fishing. The last couple years I've driven a tuna boat for a family—the guy's a hedge-fund dude, so the tuna boat is like his toy. This year, I was like, well, I'll just lead charters from the beach. I gotta put in all these tags anyway, and I can make money to do it, and it gives me an opportunity to talk to people about everything we're doing with these tags.

Why do people object to it?

I have to bring a shark out of the water for 45 seconds to a minute to get the hook out, put the tag in, get a measurement, take a blood sample, and get it back in. And I do move them by their tail two or three feet, and some people think it's the most brutal, horrible thing in the world. But in reality, when we are tagging sharks, it's way safer than in a boat. When I get the hook out, it's on soft, wet sand. The shark is still getting waves washing over it. I can promote the tagging aspect and certain things like the style of circle hook, for example—they're much safer, they don't gut hook the shark ever.

Can you walk me through a catch?

I have gigantic, 15-foot rods with huge reels and about a 100-pound cast line on them. So I'll cast out these lines with a big chunk of blue fish or whatever on a circle hook for bait, and I'll stick them in the sand. I'll line up three rods. And when the shark hits one, you'll just see a 15-foot rod just straight and narrow—they're ripping off the line. Totally exciting.

It usually takes anywhere from five to 20 minutes to get the shark to the beach. At that point, I jump into the water, grab her, and sort of gently move her backwards, remove the hook, do what I need to do, and then I let her go.

What's the purpose of the tag?

This program that I'm working now, the NOAA Apex Predators tagging program, it's the largest shark tagging project in the world. It's been going on for 55 years and primarily tracks sharks in the Atlantic Ocean. You put a tag in their back, which essentially gives the shark a serial number. If it's been captured or whatever, found again, you can see where the shark's traveled from. In the last 55 years, they've tagged 300,000 sharks. You can compare things like how water quality or water temperature affect why certain species are migrating up to Nantucket or Maine, or wherever they're going.

The key is to detect the places where they're reproducing. The sharks I'm catching here are 98 percent female. So we're trying to prove Nantucket Sound is indeed a place where they're having their pups, and if we can prove this, we could get some of the commercial fishing pushed out of here. Because there are certain draggers that come through this area, and when they do, they just net up everything on the bottom, so I'm sure they kill thousands and thousands of sharks each year.

Why do you do it?

I mean, this is the most extreme form of beach fishing you can possibly get. Catching a 300-pound-plus animal, just from a recreational, sport fishing aspect, is as good as it gets. But adding the tagging is pretty cool because it adds a conservation element, and it is valuable data. The other day, we got a shark that was tagged 13 years ago, and grew 63 centimeters in 13 years. It's a piece of the puzzle figuring out how we're impacting shark populations around the country.

Seems pretty dangerous. Have you had any close calls?

Yeah. This is dumb, but I was cutting up a piece of blue fish, and it sliced underneath my nail, and I've just been in and out of the hospital for the last few days with fish poisoning. It's kind of funny because I've caught hundreds of sharks, and all the sudden, a dead blue fish sent me to the hospital. I've not been bit.

If you were to get bitten, would that change your mind about doing this?

Probably. I mean, no one would feel sorry for me. I have a shark-bite kit in my car: hydrogen peroxide, gauze. That would hold me over until I got to the hospital. It would be bad, especially from a tiger shark, which can bite a sea turtle in half. That's like two inches of bone. Do you know hard it is to bite a pistachio? Imagine a sea turtle shell. We have a ton of great whites around Cape Cod and the islands right now. I see all these seals that have just been chomped in half by great whites washing up. I measured a 22-inch bite mark the other day. The great white is the most powerful bite in the animal planet. I would probably be not doing this as much if I got bit.

Sharks are pretty notorious, but very few people have actually encountered one. What are they like?

They feel like sandpaper, first of all. I think a lot of people think they'd be slimy, but they feel literally like sandpaper, and when they rub against you, it's like your skin is sanded off. The big ones especially are really lazy when you get them up on the beach. The smaller ones, the five- and 10-footers, will really go crazy. If you're going to get bit by a shark, it's probably going to be by a four- or five-footer because they're so fast. They can reach around their tail. An eight- to 10-foot shark, 500 pounds, just kinda can't move that fast. Their brains are the size of a pea; there's not much going on. They don't feel pain. They have a goofy look on their face most of the time. They don't seem like these horrible killers that people tend to think.

I read that because of climate change, the warming oceans are pushing sharks further north every year, and scientists have expected that 2016 is going to be a pretty big year for shark attacks.

It's actually a record low for shark attacks so far this year. The average is 75 to 100 a year worldwide. This year, it's at 20 or 30 so far, according to the article that I read.

The changing ocean temperatures: is that something you can monitor through these tags?

I've caught sharks in water temperatures from 57 degrees all the way to 85 degrees. They are very sensitive, but moreso to pollution. This species of shark originally reproduced in the Long Island Sound hundreds of years ago. As the water quality got so bad from all the pollution, they migrated to the Chesapeake Bay, where they reproduce now. I guess that's been getting worse down there, so researchers think they might be coming up and reproducing in Cape Cod and around the islands in Nantucket Sound. The sharks I'm catching are huge—I've had at least 12 sharks that have broken the state record. And sharks live 40 to 50 years. It'd be really cool to prove they are reproducing here.

So, what's next?

We filmed a really crazy show pilot and have some funding behind it. My girlfriend's involved; she represents Maine in the USA pageant. I travel around the country trying to make it doing what I love. It's not exactly easy to make a ton of money catching sharks, but you get sponsors, you take people out. We've been talking to some networks, hoping to go fulltime. That's the dream, for now.

-From Esquire, July 2016

Australian Celebrity Harry Cook Endorses Avallone! June 01 2016

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Harry Cook

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A Made-In-America Suit You Can Customize Online May 17 2016

Courtesy of Freemans Sporting Club's new made-to-order program.​
Freemans Sporting Club

Ah, but the details! The crucial decision between a double-breasted or single-breasted silhouette. The type of pocket—patch or flap? The vents, the lining...we could go on. What if you want to pick those out for yourself? Well, now you can do just that for an American-made suit thanks to the folks at Freemans Sporting Club, which just launched its made-to-order service online. 

Want a DB in nailhead wool, finished with a welt breast pocket and double vents? No problem. Single-breasted with patch pockets in a silk-and-linen blend? Yep, you can do that, too. It's still an investment—pricing starts at $1,000 and the production process takes four to six weeks—but it's a whole lot less expensive and time-consuming than going the traditional route. And that's exactly what some guys (maybe even you!) are looking for.

From Esquire May '16


George Clooney: The Exit Interview April 27 2016

By David Granger

Let's get a couple things out of the way.

No, I did not meet Amal. You go to hang with George Clooney these days and that's the first question anyone asks.

Second, George made me a Nespresso. That fact seems to amuse people. It wasn't a big deal—he didn't call it Nespresso—he just asked if I wanted a coffee and then went over to his Nespresso machine and made us each a cup. I'd been hoping for tequila, but then again, it was only about 2:30.

Third, and this takes a little getting used to: He looks and acts just like George Clooney. He's exactly what you'd expect. It's a little stunning.

He strolls up to the photo shoot about 15 minutes early and he looks perfect. Perfect suit, shirt, and tie—looks like someone dressed him but, given that no one else is in evidence, you have to assume that he managed it himself. He's about five-eleven. He goes about 160, 165. Nice-looking guy. Maybe a little product in the hair—photo-ready. (Bill Murray, in contrast arrived at his shoot wearing cargo shorts and a Cubbies T-shirt under a fishing vest, and sporting an Xavier baseball cap with the Nike logo blacked out.)

The only thing that's a little off with Clooney is the slight limp, which gets more pronounced as the photo shoot goes on.

The previous evening, turns out, there'd been a rousing pickleball game on his tennis/basketball court. I can't say for sure, but there may have been drinking. Couple hours in, he bent over to pick up the Wiffle ball and—bang!—down goes Clooney, a disc slipped, immobile.

On the morning of the shoot, at 7:00 a.m., he was in the hospital getting an epidural in his spine so he could withstand the rigors of the day. No biggie. He said he'd hang with us; he hung with us.

David Granger: This will be the ninth time you've been on the cover of Esquire.

George Clooney: This year?

DG: Uh, no. Your first time was after your fifth year on ER—1999.

GC: That was a hell of a cover.

DG: It was such an important thing for us. I'd been there less than two years, and we'd floundered. And then Sam Jones took that picture and we thought: That looks like an Esquire cover.

GC: It's the best cover I've ever taken.

DG: Over the last few days, I read all the stories we've run about you. It was an amazing experience.

GC: I bet.

DG: [Whispers] I didn't remember any of them.

GC: I bet.

DG: I think over the time that you've been on our cover and the time I've been editing this magazine, it's only gotten more complicated to be a man, in part because of the growing influence of women, which we all welcome, and in part because of sexual politics. I think over all this time, you have at least appeared to navigate being a man pretty easily.

GC: I had some pretty good examples in my life. My father's very smart and has a great sense of humor. And some people just feel comfortable in their skin. I have good friends who are like that. And my father is like that and my uncle is like that.

DG: Probably didn't hurt that you were in your thirties when you got famous.

GC: Noah Wyle was 23 when ER got picked up, and by our fifth or sixth show we had 40 million people watching. And I remember Noah asking me, "Is that good?" And I said, "It will never happen again in your lifetime." I was lucky enough to have the perspective to understand when things are good.

DG: It's hard to imagine now, but for a big chunk of your life, you were scrambling like any other American.

GC: Scrambling, yeah, but I made a living for a good portion of that time. In a way you get too much credit. But it's scrambling. The show is gonna get canceled and then you're gonna have to find another gig. People always think you manage your career. You don't manage your career when you're trying to get a job. You're just trying to get a job. And you know this as well as anybody, that it's much later in your career that you can go, Oh, here's what I want to do. Early on, it's just: Get work. Just survive.

DG: Do you remember what it was like to just survive?

GC: I'm directing a movie [Suburbicon], so I was just looking at actors on tape—actors I've worked with and auditioned with, and they're so good, and the minute I see them, I'm thinking,We did a play on Melrose Avenue in 1984. It's a real community.

DG: What's the difference between you and that guy you were acting with in '84?

GC: It's a combination of about 500 different things, but the one thing that you have to have is luck. I've done 13 TV pilots and seven series. I've done series that were considered very good and series that were considered very bad. None of them stuck. And all of a sudden we got a show on Thursday night at ten o'clock. That time slot was the cradle of love—and we had a groundbreaking TV show. Go back to 1994 and look at the first year of ER. It's some great television.

DG: You came to fame right at the beginning of the modern age of fame, when—

GC: When all the fun was gone. Used to be you could be as famous as you wanted. You show up at premieres and everybody cheers and you sign autographs, and then you go off and you drive out to a restaurant and go to dinner and you'd be left alone. Every once in a while some paparazzi would sneak around, but now everybody's got a phone. If all this stuff existed when I was 25, it'd be me getting carried out of some bar by my feet. Cuz I did it all. I had all the fun that you should have. And it would have been multiplied by 10 times had I been famous and rich. I'm just lucky that the advent of camera phones happened when I was 43 years old or something.

DG: Fame is, at this moment, a kind of a double-edged sword. You're one of the most famous men in the world on one end of the spectrum. And Donald Trump is on the opposite end of the spectrum. But it's not just because he's race-baiting that he's doing well. It's because he's famous that people are buying into this stuff.

GC: And he's been famous for 35 years.

DG: You know Hillary Clinton well. Is there a moment you've had with her that crystallizes who she is?

GC: I was a big supporter of Barack Obama in 2008. When I came back from Darfur when she was secretary of state, I would have thought she would have been a little ticked off to meet with me. And she wasn't.

DG: What is it like meeting with a secretary of state?

GC: When I walked out of that room, I was very, very, very glad that she was secretary of state and that she was an informed, responsible, smart person. I don't think she's nearly as good a campaigner as she would be a leader.

DG: Is Obama funny?

GC: Deeply funny. He gets the joke. He's called me a couple of times after I've gotten in an argument with somebody about him. And he's like, "What are you doing fighting with that guy?" That kind of stuff has been very funny.

DG: Have you ever played basketball with him?

GC: We played here in L.A. I did a fundraiser here with him, and he said, "What are you doing tomorrow morning?" I go, "What time?" He goes, "5:30. You wanna play some hoops?" And I go, "Yeah." And he goes, "All right, we'll set it up. You got any of your friends want to play?"

DG: Do they want to play?!

GC: So I started writing my friends, going, "You wanna play basketball with the president of the United States?" Now I have this picture of my buddy elbowing the President. It was really fun. He's a good basketball player.

DG: I'm surprised he even has time to play at 5:30 in the morning.

GC: The truth of the matter is, in my lifetime certainly there's never been a president who's been up against so much obstructionism. There just hasn't been. Period. I don't give a shit what anybody says. Yet he's managed to do an awful lot of things, and he's had to do it with a sense of humor that I wouldn't have kept. At some point, I would've said, "You know what, boys? Why don't we step outside?"

DG: You seem to manage conflict with aplomb. You take stances, you get angry sometimes, and yet I can't remember a time when you've been tarred by your fame.

GC: What you learn is you gotta pick your fights, and the fights you pick have to be about someone besides yourself. You go, "Don't say that my wife should be executed." The Daily Mail sort of pulled one of those, which was inaccurate on every level. Those are the fights you gotta pick.

DG: I was in Milan in January and everybody I met was like, What is going on with the United States?

GC: A Danish reporter asked me, "What's going on with Donald Trump?" And I said, "Well, what's going on with you? You guys just passed a new law says that you're going to take the belongings off of every refugee that comes in to pay for them coming in, which sounds an awful lot like 1938, '39 in Germany." But how am I to defend us when the only voice that's coming out from across the sea is banning Muslims? That's the problem with what's going on. It's not that it's gonna happen; it's that we're broadcasting this to the rest of the world.

Here's the thing about Trump—I was just in Amsterdam, and I'm up onstage, and they go, "What's going on with Trump?" And I said: "Look, we're not going to do these things. We're not going to deport Muslims. We're not going to build a wall." But the problem is all these other countries hear these things, and all of a sudden you see in France that [Jean-Marie] Le Pen is going, "Bravo." You get all of these nutcases on the far-right fringe saying, "Well, if America thinks that…" That is the real problem with Trump—his ideas bleed into the rest of the world. That he says, I'm gonna find every terrorist, and I'm gonna find their family, and I'm gonna execute them…. I'm not gonna let him walk away from that. I'm gonna execute a family?! That's a war crime of the highest level that no one would do. When you say that, that tells all the other people, Okay, well, if they're saying that, then why don't we?

DG: Are you hopeful about the future?

GC: I actually think it looked a lot bleaker in 2008, when the economy tanked. I really thought we were in real trouble.

DG: We were.

GC: This country is a big carrier ship that has to slowly turn all the time to right itself, and it takes longer than we want it to. But if you look at us over the history of time, we really fucked up. We fucked up with the Indians; we fucked up with slavery. We were terrible to women. We fuck up and we fuck up and we fuck up, and we get better. We're not great yet; we haven't fixed it all yet. We didn't figure it out in 1776. We didn't have a Constitution until 1787. It takes a while to figure things out. But what happened in 2008 was: Just when you thought you couldn't figure it out, that the world was gonna go straight to hell, we elected the first African-American ever, who, when he speaks, he makes us feel proud, and makes the rest of the world calm down about the United States.

DG: Probably helped that CNN and Politico weren't covering the emergence of America as an independent nation.

GC: This is the thing that makes me crazy. What's going on in Syria doesn't get airplay. A little boy drowns and washes up on a shore, and [in response] everything was moving in the right direction until Cologne or San Bernardino, and everything changes. We don't have any coverage of what is truly one of the great catastrophes in our lifetime. Six million refugees, it's just a number. But six million. But what if six million of those little boys washed up on the shore?

DG: It's not a rating until that happens.

GC: It's not a rating.

DG: Trump's a rating….

GC: Last night's debate will be known as the I-have-the-biggest-dick debate. When you could have been saying, Let's talk about what we really are going to do about refugees.

What you learn is you gotta pick your fights, and the fights you pick have to be about someone besides yourself.

DG: Looking at the recent films you've been involved in, I get the impression that you basically only work with people you like to work with.

GC: That's pretty true. You try to push out every once in a while, but if I can work with the Coens, if I could work with Soderbergh. If I could work with Alexander Payne. That's where I am in my career right now.

DG: You're retiring from acting, allegedly.

GC: Somebody said, "What are you doing in 10 years?" And I said, "Well, I don't think anybody really wants to see anybody age." But humor doesn't make it in print. The reality is what I was talking about was the kind of parts that I was doing I'm not going to be doing anymore. Paul Newman did it best. He was a movie star, he was a leading man, and then he was like, Now I'm a character actor.

DG: And they were memorable roles.

GC: They just weren't as often and they weren't as much. I'm much more interested in doing films where the role makes sense for me. I'm not gonna be carrying movies the way I did before. There are actors you'll see that try to hold on to this leading-man status long past the due date.

DG: It starts to look ridiculous.

GC: And you get a softer lens, but it doesn't work anymore.

DG: I'm also talking to Bill Murray for this issue.

GC: He's a nut.

The Clooney Impressions. Clockwise from top left: Sammy Davis, Jr., Robert De Niro, Undisclosed, Dick Van Dyke.

DG: Everybody thinks they know him. Is there anything people get wrong about him?

GC: He's oddly emotional. He's incredibly warm and emotional. He gave a toast at our wedding that was so elegant and beautiful and warm and he's such a loving individual. And he's adaptable to anyplace he goes. Everybody's life is a puzzle that's missing this one piece, and he fits in each time.

DG: I wonder if he gets back to you faster than he gets back to me.

GC: Bill comes to see us in Italy every summer. I text him [to see when he wants to come], and then I won't hear from him for three months. Then I'll be in Italy, and he'll call me and say, "I'm here." And I go, "Where?" And he goes, "At the front gate." And I open it, and he comes in.

Another story: We were recording Fantastic Mr. Fox at the house. Wes Anderson and all the guys came there to do it. Bill was coming the next morning. And we all woke up to the news that Owen Wilson tried to hurt himself. And Wes and everyone said, "We have to go back." But Bill was supposed to be in Venice in ten days. And he's like, "Well, what should I do?" I'd only known him from a few parties, but I said, "Well, you can stay here." And he did. And we would just sit and we'd watch television together, or we'd go into the gym and work out. But you could do it and not even talk for hours. I'd come outside and he'd be lying in the grass looking up, and I'd come out and I'd lie in the grass and look up, and we'd just sit there and look up at the stars for two hours. He really is that guy. He's incredibly warm, and he really fits into everyone's life when he shows up.

DG: That's beautiful.

GC: I feel that he gets a good amount of joy out of how much people love him. I think he really likes that.

DG: My image of him will always be at one of his Christmas parties. There will be 400 people there. Emma Stone, Chris Rock, David Letterman. But then he'll turn to you and say, "Would you please talk to that woman over there? She runs the emergency room on Martha's Vineyard. She's a really nice lady. She needs somebody to talk to."

GC: There's this gentleness about him. He's just such a funny, sweet man. Obviously talented, but in many ways he's just a normal guy.

DG: I was asking my staff what I should ask you, what they were curious about. And there was one really simple question that Tyler Cabot thought I should ask. And the question is: "What do you want?"

GC: That's a good question. So I made money. I was broke, but I made my money. I've never been happier in a relationship by any stretch of the imagination. At 52 I found the love of my life and I'm really happy. I enjoy the work that I've been lucky enough to do and I wanna keep doing it. I want to remain creative and be able to stay creative as long as they'll let me. So I wanna do that. But as I've gotten older and as I've gotten more secure in my life, there are a lot of other things that I care about more, which is: the people who don't have the luck that I have. There's a lot of people out there who could use some luck. There's a lot of people in this country, but there's an awful lot of people in this world that could use some luck. And sometimes luck is just shedding the spotlight on the fact that their lives are hell.

DG: A couple years ago I was in the doctor's office for tests and the technician says to me, "So, are you still in the workforce?" And it just bugged the hell out of me.

GC: There isn't this 65-year-old retirement age, you know? We can be working on the things that matter to us, and that we're interested in, until somebody pulls the plug. That's a great place to be. I have a tequila company, right? It's off-the-charts successful. That's going to end up being the most successful thing I've ever been attached to financially.

DG: Really?

GC: By far.

DG: And you've done pretty well.

GC: I mean by leaps and bounds. That's one of those things where you go, "Well, how much money do you need?" And then you go, "Well, then, what can we do to make this actually do some good around the world?" That's my interest now: Where can you focus your energy, not just in writing and directing and producing and acting but in actually changing people's lives?

DG: And you have a lot of time to do that.

GC: I'm 54 years old. I'm in good shape and good health for the most part.

DG: Are there any physical compromises you've been forced to make?

GC: I played basketball three times a week up until about a year and a half ago. But each injury takes longer to heal. As we're talking, I've just come from having injections in my back for a slipped disc this morning. So I'm not feeling peak, but I can still hang with the young guys in most sports.

There isn't this 65-year-old retirement age, you know? We can be working on the things that matter to us, and that we're interested in, until somebody pulls the plug.

DG: It is an odd experience sitting here and talking to you—you have a way of making me and probably everybody else feel like we've known you forever. It seems comfortable. It's fuckin' weird.

GC: I didn't grow up afraid of conversation or afraid of people who actually write for a living. I find an actual conversation is not hard to have.

DG: As I've been preparing to leave Esquire, people keep asking me, "So, what's your legacy?" And I've always thought there's no such thing as legacy. Three months after I'm gone, people will have forgotten I was there. Do you think about what lives on beyond you?

GC: I had this conversation with my dad not long ago about legacy. He said, "No one will really remember all the things that I did—the work that I've done." And we were talking and I said, "I look at some of the films that I was able to do—the ones that mattered. Good Night, and Good Luck; Michael Clayton; Out of Sight; Up in the Air; The Descendants. I look back and think I've got seven or eight films that will stand the test of time." And I said, "That's my legacy, I suppose." And he said, "Name me the top ten movie stars in 1930."

He said, "You get 80 years." And he's absolutely right. So if your legacy's gonna count for anything, it actually has to count for the next generation's lives. My family—we were Irish immigrants. And we were shit all over because we were Irish. And people said, "Oh, they're gonna be terrible and a disaster for the country." And Amal had to flee Beirut during the civil war and she ran to England. We have to do better. We have to stop this incredible fear that some guy who wants to kill us is going to go through the year-and-a-half or two-year process of immigration to be a terrorist, you know? I don't understand that. It doesn't make sense to me that people think that way. Your legacy is about immigrants and refugees. Amal and I are working on things now that matter to us on a whole other level, in a whole other world. If there's a legacy for me, it's yet to be written.

DG: I appreciate you taking the time and doing this.

GC: Well, I'll say it on the tape because I want it said: You're gonna be missed. You really are. Your voice and the magazine as it was through your voice has been exceptional. That is a legacy. They might not remember any of our names. But what they will remember is an era when there were great stories told, and there were great questions asked that a lot of places don't ask and don't do. So you'll land somewhere that you like, and all that stuff. But you do have a real legacy here, and you should be proud of that.

DG: I'll make sure to print that.

GC: I'm a big fan of loyalty. All this O.J. stuff is coming up right now because of the show [The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story]. When I look at loyalty, I look at Al Cowlings. And I think, I hope I'm that friend. Right? I hope I'm the kind of friend you can come up to and say, "Listen, they're saying I killed my wife. I didn't kill my wife. They're trying to railroad me. Just get in the car and drive." I like loyalty.


The Dossier: George Clooney

Date of birth: May 6, 1961

Which makes him: 54

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky

Which proved useful when: He sent the O Brother, Where Art Thou? script home to his uncle Jack, along with a tape recorder to capture his accent. Though he later learned that: Uncle Jack, a strict Baptist, had omitted all the damns and hells.

Other relatives of note: Aunt Rosemary Clooney, cabaret singer and actress; father Nick Clooney, talk-show host and news anchor.

First onscreen appearance: The Nick Clooney Show, at age 5.

Childhood aspiration: Baseball player

Not an unrealistic goal, considering: That he tried out for the Cincinnati Reds when he was 17.

But ended up: Studying broadcast journalism at Northern Kentucky University.

After dropping out of which he: Moved to California with money saved from cutting tobacco.

First film: Return to Horror High

As: Oliver, a wannabe actor.

Who: Dies in the first 15 minutes.

But not before a female character sneers: "Gonna be a star, Oliver?"

And he responds: "Gonna try."

To which she says: "Yeah, right."

To which we say: Yeah. Right.

Spouse: Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin), human-rights lawyer.

Of whom he has said: "Oftentimes, I feel like an idiot talking to my own wife."

Upcoming projects: Money Monster, a thriller costarring Julia Roberts; Suburbicon, a dark comedy written by the Coen brothers about a suburban home invasion gone wrong.

Shown to him in: The late 1990s

And resurrected when: "I called up the boys and said, 'Any interest?' And they're like, 'Let's go.'"

This article originally appears in the May 2016 issue of Esquire Magazine. 


Thom Browne - Why He Loves Slim Suits and Hates Fast Fashion April 09 2016

A Q&A with one of menswear's modern masters.​

It's difficult to overstate Thom Browne's influence on modern menswear. That slim suit you love so much, with the trousers hemmed so they just barely graze the top of your shoes? That probably wouldn't exist without Browne, who ushered in a tailoring revolution about a decade-and-a-half ago with his cropped, close-to-the-body suits and jackets. And though he started out on a shoestring—due to budget constraints, his first "collection" was just five suits that he had made for himself—the New York-based designer is now one of the more powerful forces in men's fashion, as admired for his slightly subversive runway collections as he is for his classic approach to tailored clothing. 

For spring and fall 2016, he's teamed up with Woolmark to create a capsule collection that falls on the latter end of that spectrum: traditional(ish) tailoring made from the company's lightweightCool Wool, which should have the suit-wearing public feeling pretty good about life when things heat up outside. We caught up with Browne to talk about how the partnership came together, what it feels like to be the man who helped launch the slim suiting trend, and why he hates fast fashion. 

Esquire.com: You've teamed up with Woolmark in a bigger way for spring and fall 2016, but you've been working with them for a while. How did that relationship start?  

Thom Browne: They're very supportive of young designers; that's how it initially started back in 2006 and 2007. The relationship has gone on for this long and will go on because of their attention to making beautiful fabrics. [The current collection] was very easy, because I use so much of their fabrics as-is. It wasn't something that I had to consciously really think about; we just positioned certain items and looks within our collection as special to Woolmark.

 

How did you decide on the specific pieces?

I wanted to make sure the items were iconic to my collection. Things that, when people saw them, were true to who I am as a designer. So staying more towards the classic pieces: a navy sport coat, a Prince of Wales suit.

Would you say they're seasonal pieces, or more year-round? 

Definitely year-round—that's the way the world is now, and the way that you have to approach collections. There are so many collections per year. There are four that I do for men's: two pre-collections and two collections. The deliveries in stores sometimes don't match the seasons, so you have to design into almost a yearly season as opposed to a fall and spring season nowadays. 

I actually wanted to ask you about that increased pace and having more collections now than we used to. You didn't do pre-collections in the early years.

No. I've been doing the pre-collections for about two years. 

How does that kind of pace affect things? You see designers lamenting it, leaving big design houses—is this something that the industry can't sustain? Or do you like having more opportunities to explore your ideas? 

I think everybody should approach it his or her own way. It is added work, and the schedule is relentless: It's basically a yearly schedule, and it's not like you get time off. You don't have to do pre-collections, but if you want to grow a business, you do have to approach it in a way that puts things in stores for the customers. So to have new product going into stores fairly regularly is important—not only for the customer, but also for the stores to have a little bit longer time to sell the product. I like it, but also my collections and pre-collections relate to each other. It's not like they're totally schizophrenic, and when they're both on the floor at the same time they do live together. Ultimately it's more of an opportunity to get your product in front of people. So I've embraced it and I know that it's worthwhile, but everyone has to approach it his or her own way.

Speaking of approaching things in your own way: You're known for a slim, cropped cut. When you first introduced that to the marketplace, a lot of people followed suit, and menswear in general has been slimmer and shorter for a while. But now it seems like things are shifting to be a little longer and looser. Do you look at that and think about changing your aesthetic?

I mean, this is me, and I will always do this. It was never a trend; it was always a timeless approach to how I like the proportion of the jacket and trousers. So this is always going to be what I give to my customer. Every season, of course, I do play with proportion within the collections themselves, but the classic way of how I approach my tailoring is always going to be the same. 

What is it about that look that you find so compelling?

I just like the proportions. It's a personal thing to me and it's something that's timeless. The use of that proportion is more specific in how I wear it; but in the more classic things that I do, the proportion doesn't change—it's just not as severe as how I wear it. There is a more classic way of wearing it and I have a lot of customers who have it tailored for wearing it to work or an event. As long as the proportion doesn't change in regards to the lines of the jacket and trouser, there are a lot of ways to interpret it. 

 

What does it feel like to be on the leading edge of something that becomes such a major trend? When you saw that shift in tailored clothing years ago, did you ever have a moment where you said, "Yeah, I caused that a little bit"? 

It really comes down to it being nice to see that you're doing something that people recognize. I set out at the beginning to make sure that I did something that was somewhat important and that people did recognize, but it's not like I sat back and had a brand plan on changing the world of tailoring. It's something that I just wanted myself, and I knew that it was different from what other people were doing and what other people wanted. And when you do something that personal, I think there is a reason why people will at least look at it, and hopefully understand why you're doing it. 

Did you ever find it difficult, when the market was saturated with those slimmer and shorter designs, to stand out in that landscape? 

No. Because it was always mine. 

Do you pay attention to the rest of the market or do you try to stay mostly in your own world when it comes to design? 

I am the worst when it comes to knowing what's going on. And I consciously don't want to know what's going on, because I think it's a lot easier to stay true to yourself if you just do what you do and focus on that. 

Where do you look for inspiration, if not in fashion? 

Architecture, art, movies, real people, real things. I'm never really influenced by fashion. 

 

 

For the fall 2016 collection, you said that the idea was reinterpreting the idea of a group of men at a gentleman's club. There's a lot of room for interpretation there, so how do you go from that idea to actual execution? 

Well that's only a small bit of the story. The main story is these men in the '20s through the Depression into the '30s, and how they appreciated the clothing that they purchased and had made for themselves in the '20s. And how, through the Depression, their priorities shifted in terms of not being able to afford to buy new clothes—how they loved the clothes that they had, and really wore them and really appreciated them. And they were so beautifully made that they still could wear them, and the way that the clothes aged made them even more beautiful sometimes than when they were new. So the story is really more of the appreciation of really well-made clothes, not really that these guys are part of a gentleman's club; that's just where I placed them. 

That feels very prescient in this day and age, especially considering the influence of fast fashion. Is that something you were thinking about specifically? 

No, but I wish I did. [Laughs.] Because I can't stand the world of fast fashion. I wish people would spend money on more important things than the disposable clothing you get in those retailers. 

When you say more important things, are you talking about better-made clothes? Experiences? A combination? 

Experiences, better-made clothing, maybe contributing money to worthy charities—something that's a lot longer-lasting than a T-shirt that's going to disintegrate in a week. 

-From Esquire April 2016


12 Timeless, Easy-to-Wear Watches with Brown Leather Bands April 01 2016

These stylish timepieces will last you a lifetime.

watches with brown leather bands

You can slap a caramel-colored strap on most timepieces. But these are the ones—from sporty to sophisticated—that come with one in place, and are all available to buy online now. Get going, since they'll only get better with age.

 

TIMEX

Men's Brown Leather Watches

With an off-white face and great numerical details, the Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph is far from your father's Timex.

$120, timex.com

 

FOSSIL

Men's Brown Leather Watches

The Chronograph Grant Lightstraddles the line between casual and classy with a blue dial and silver-tone Roman numerals.

$145, macys.com

BULOVA

Men's Brown Leather Watches

At this price, the Accutron II offers a lot of elegance for your buck. Yellow gold and brown leather never felt so right.

$499, bulova.com

MOVADO

Men's Brown Leather Watches

Minimalists take note: The Movado Bold Watch—with its unadorned gunmetal dial and brown Colorado bullhide strap—might just be for you.

$595, movado.com

MONTBLANC

Men's Brown Leather Watches

At a glance, the Star Date Watch may look simple, but it's full of subtle details including a grained calfskin strap and a guilloché spiral pattern on its silvery-white dial.

$1,775, montblanc.com

TUDOR

Men's Brown Leather Watches

Inspired by the Oyster Prince Ranger from the 1960s, the Heritage Ranger features the same luminous Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock as the original—along with an updated leather strap.

$2,825, tudorwatch.com

TAG HEUER

Men's Brown Leather Watches

The brown alligator and stainless steel details on the Carrera are so timeless that you'll want to pass this one on to your son one day.

$2,900, tourneau.com

BELL & ROSS

Men's Brown Leather Watches

Go ahead and beat up the BR 123 Golden Heritage Watch a little. The whole thing will only get better with age.

$3,500, bellross.com

LONGINES

Men's Brown Leather Watches

Updated with a Hodinkee faded brown calfskin strap, this vintage Longines Calatrava from the 1940s is in great working order considering it's about 70 years old.

$5,300, hodinkee.com

OMEGA

While Omega Speedmasters were part of all six lunar missions, the brown leather strap on the Speedmaster '57 Co-Axial Chronograph is way better looking than the Velcro straps worn by the astronauts.

$8,900, omegawatches.com

CARTIER

If she gets a Birkin bag, you deserve aTank Louis Watch from Cartier with a brown alligator-skin strap.

$14,100, cartier.com

ROLEX

This 18kt white gold Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Watch may seem crazy expensive, but when you consider that it's marked down from $21,850, it's actually quite a deal.

$17,917, jomashop.com


The Best New Restaurants in America 2015 October 14 2015

Josh Ozersky was hungry. He looked like a man who could put it away. And put it away he did, for his own satisfaction, sure. But also for yours.

Because Josh Ozersky lived to chow and tell. He was hungry for whiskey and argument (always a good pairing); hungry for validation of his work, which he received but probably distrusted (writers are like that); hungry for camaraderie and song. And, of course, just plain hungry, for the new-school and the old, the salty and fatty, the crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle—especially if it once possessed four hooves and a tail. But deeper than his need to ingest great cooking was his hunger to share his discoveries and to soak in the pleasure of affirmation from his audience. In that sense, Josh possessed a drive like that of great chefs, equal parts generosity and need for applause—not just for praise but also for surety that the rest of us tasted his discoveries and understood.

Josh chose most of the restaurants herein and devoured as many of their delights as he could, just in time to exhaust the Best New Restaurants travel budget, but not in time, sadly, to write the stories. Every death is untimely, but Josh's was especially so, happening as it did when he was just forty-seven in the early hours of May 4, 2015, the very day he was supposed to cheer on his favorite chefs at the James Beard Awards in Chicago. So a team of Esquire pros and great new voices from all over the country, including Beard Award winners John Birdsall and John DeVore, picked up the fork and finished the job.

No tribute could be more fitting, because we are as blown away by these restaurants and the cultural shifts they represent as Josh was. There is something of a New Food Order emerging—the rules, like the complexion of the country itself, are changing.

The restaurant of the year, Shaya, serves Israeli cuisine—in, of all places, New Orleans. And if you doubt that pita and tabbouleh could merit such an accolade, consider that their elevation comes at the hand of a chef, Alon Shaya, who has cooked for NoLa revolutionary John Besh since his first of (now) twelve restaurants began transforming that former time-capsule culture of Commander's Palace and Brennan's. And if that's not enough, imagine sinking your teeth into a pomegranate-lacquered lamb shank, blackened and glistening from hours at the roast.

There is a restaurant that basically serves only birds. A restaurant on a bleak block in Harlem that no sooner saw success than it was shut down by a ridiculous rent increase. Yet somehow it managed to reopen ten months later, bringing its beacon to a different careworn stretch of the city.

In more restaurants than ever, Latin Americans are not just rocking the line but also running the show, with confidence and style. Witness Ray Garcia: I went to his L.A. joint Broken Spanish in its ninth week, before it even had a sign out front. He takes familiar flavors and formats from the Mexican playbook and brilliantly interweaves them with surprises like black garlic and foie-gras butter.

Perhaps most important is that after a decade of tatt-sleeved male chefs whose primary concern was building empires rather than flavors, we are entering a new era of collaboration and cooperation that focuses more on cooking and less on big-swinging solo-artist brand development. Chefs who use the pronoun we when describing their creative process, like husband-and-wife chef-owners Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza, of the Progress in San Francisco. These are craftspeople with their chests unpuffed and their heads down over their pots, developing loyal teams of homegrown cooks just as surely as they develop killer dishes—and upending the bro culture of the American kitchen.

If only Josh could have seen this through. The last memory anybody seems to have of him belongs to John Currence, a friend and the chef at City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi. Having decamped from the Beards' annual Chefs' Night Out cocktail party in search of Jim Beam, the two, along with Charleston chef-kings Jason Stanhope and Mike Lata, found their way to a basement karaoke dive. "Nobody was singing, so Josh just started devouring the microphone and dragging people onstage." Among the selections: the duet "Islands in the Stream," with Stanhope. "It was really one of the most joyful things to watch."

Because for food, for whiskey, for one more song, Josh Ozersky was hungry. You're hungry. I'm hungry. Let's eat.​

THE BEST NEW RESTAURANTS IN AMERICA 2015 LIST

Shaya, New Orleans

Townsman, Boston

The Progress, San Francisco

Muscadine, Portland, Oregon

The Grey, Savannah

Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, Morristown, New Jersey

B.S. Taqueria and Broken Spanish, Los Angeles

Momotaro, Chicago

Dolo Restaurant and Bar, Chicago

The Duck Inn, Chicago

Little Park, New York

Shuko, New York

Santina, New York

Mountain Bird, New York

-Published in November '15 Esquire 


5 World-Class Wines That Are Currently a Steal March 04 2015

A classic wine region, like a classic suit is perennial, but that doesn't mean the prices don't wax and wane. Whether it's a standout vintage, oversupply, exchange rates, or simply the vagaries of fashion, some wines become a bit more of a steal than others. Here's what to drink right now.

Brunello di Montalcino
A surfeit of great vintages—nothing less than four or five stars each year, going back to 2003—means there are too many superb Brunellos around, so prices are down as retailers try to make room for the 2010 vintage now being released. The Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona 'Pianrosso Santa Caterina d'Oro' Riserva 2007 ($89) demonstrates Brunello's capacity for combining power and elegance.

Alsace
Skip Moscato for Alsace's Muscat, and trade in the Pinot Grigio for Alsatian Pinot Gris; this French white-wine region hosts many fantastic varietals along with the more commonly applauded Riesling and Gewurztraminer (collectively these are known as the four "noble varieties"). Look for Grand Cru wines like the Marcel Deiss Mambourg 2009 ($75), which is a fine blend.

Zinfandel blends
Over-the-top, high-alcohol (15% ABV+) Zin captured people's imaginations and wallets over a decade ago but is fading now, though producers who never strayed from a more classic (and powerful) expression of the grape are still at it. Many of the best are actually field blends with other varieties. One great example: Ravenswood's muscular Icon 2011 ($75).

Sherry
This is perhaps the most underappreciated in the world ever since we abandoned Poe's alluring Amontillado (one of several kinds of sherry) in favor of Grandma's sticky-sweet version. High-quality sherry is back on the market with a vengeance, but producers are hesitant to increase prices. Try the Bodegas Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado NV ($55 for 500ml) to see what Poe's obsessed victim was talking about.

Bordeaux
After chasing inflated prices in Asia and finding it a fickle market, Bordeaux producers are once again courting wine drinkers in the U.S. market. St. Emilion, one of Bordeaux's subregions, is loaded with values right now, like the just-released Chateau Troplong Mondot 2012 ($85); keep an eye out for older vintages, too.

-From Details Mag., by Jim Clark