An East-Meets-Midwest Barbecue Inspires Sumptuous Delights


Steve, Dean (Steve’s dad), and Jon sipping Gin Stevies after a nosh of bruschetta topped with heirloom tomatoes. For recipes for the Gin Stevie { paired with bruschetta } , click here.

What to serve our Brooklyn guests before dinner was an easy choice; even though we could feel the cool fall air descend upon us, we decided to leave summer behind with a bang: Gin Stevies paired with bruschetta. A make-it-yourself bruschetta bar, with juicy heirloom tomatoes and grilled slices of garlic-rubbed baguette gave us more time to spend with Steve’s dad and our thirsty neighbors. As for the Gin Stevies, the sweet melting watermelon–sake cubes mingled so perfectly with the Hendrick’s gin. It was hard to stop at just two. But no worries. Tom Collins stood on the sidelines ready to quench a thirsty soul.

Brandy and Cola

(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces brandy or cognac

1 1/2 – 3 ounces cola


Pour brandy into an ice-filled rocks glass. Give it a little stir. Top with cola.

Butter Brandy

(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces butterscotch schnapps (try Hiram Walker)

1 1/2 – 3 ounces cola


Pour schnapps into an ice-filled rocks glass. Give it a little stir. Top with cola.

Steve’s dad is a brandy man. Always has been, always will be. So we decided to pick up a bottle of Asbach, a wonderfully nuanced German brandy (it has more character than a lot of your most readily available brandies and cognacs), and said “Show us what you like to make.” His standard relax-after-a hard-day-of work favorite is simple and tasty: Brandy and cola. And after dinner, nothing suits Dean better than some butterscotch schnapps and brandy. Both can be highly addictive, so enjoy at a leisurely pace.

Grilled Dry-Rubbed Pork Steaks

(adapted by Cocktail Buzz from Dean Schul)


medium bowl


deep dish or pan (for refrigerator)

seep dish or pan (for oven)

grill tongs

grill and charcoal

grill chimney (optional)

small bowl (for olive oil), with a brush

meat thermometer (optional)


7 pounds Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch pork steaks

olive oil

1/4 cup hot paprika

1/4 cup turbinado or demerara sugar

1/4 cup ground black pepper

1/4 cup sea salt

2 teaspoons cayenne

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


The pork steaks can be made up to two hours before you serve them.

Mix spices thoroughly in a medium bowl with a fork. (You will have extra, so you save some to add while grilling.) Lay pork steaks in deep dish and cover with spice mix. Massage the rub into the steaks, flip the steaks, and repeat. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Fill grill chimney or grill with your favorite charcoal, ignite, and wait for coals to become blisteringly white. (Make sure you have extra charcoal to throw on the fire if you have more grilling once the pork steaks are done, such as for grilled sliced bread for bruschetta.) If you are using a chimney, dump the white-hot coals into the grill and spread out evenly. Place the grill atop the coals and wait for it to get extremely hot.

Place pork steaks evenly on the grill so they are not touching. Brush olive oil on the steaks. Cook for about 8 minutes. Before you flip them, sprinkle more spice mix on top of the steaks. Cook for another 8 minutes.

To check doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the steak. It should read 165ºF. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, press down on one of the steaks with your thumb. The meat should give a little and spring back.

Remove the pork steaks from the grill and place in a pan. Cover with foil and place in a 200ºF oven for up to two hours to keep warm until it’s time to serve. If you need to keep the pork steaks in the oven longer, reduce heat to “Warm,” or 175ºF.

When it’s time to serve, remove from oven and lay steaks on a carving board. You can slice them or break them apart, depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

Serves about 12.

To complement the pork steaks (which we picked up that same morning at Cousin Jon’s dad’s butcher shop, the famed Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market on Bleecker Street, you need some sides. Steve came up with two: our favorite traditional All-American Potato Salad and a nontraditional Caesar Salad with basil in the dressing.

You may be asking, “What about dessert?” Apples are in season, so Steve opted for the layered look with an Apple Gateau, seven pounds of luscious and tart granny smith slices (and in this instance, Macouns) slow-baked until the apple slices compress into layers of luscious tender sweet-tartness.

Barbara, Dean, and Cady enjoy the last days of summer on the terrace.

Julie smiles, all is good.