With Fathers' Day approaching, many of us have meaningful things to say, such as "Dad, you're the greatest" or "Thanks for letting me borrow your beach house 15 summers in a row." When the words don't seem adequate, say it with dinner, or maybe a top-shelf craft cocktail. Here's our list of the best 2012 food-and-booze bonding experiences for dads and those who love them.
Click through the next few pages to find out how to say "I love you Dad," with steaks, cigars, cognac and more.
|Bespoke Burger Brunch|
For most Sundays of the year, brunch is for ladies and family outings. But on Father's Day, it's all about gourmet burgers, truffle fries and spicy top-shelf Bloody Marys, bottomless, if possible. The Peninsula Chicago is one of many places doing a guy-friendly gourmet buffet, with build-your-own organic beef burgers, cowboy ribs and pork belly sliders.
|Try This at Home: Salad Bouquets|
If you're duplicating the build-a-burger buffet concept for a backyard party, take the advice of Hamptons celeb caterer Andrea Correale, and sneak some healthy greens onto the side dish table. "Simply take a Roma tomato, cut the bottom so it will stand upright, cut the top and hollow out with a spoon. Stuff with baby Romaine or red leaf lettuce and voila! A gorgeous garden salad bouquet."
|Gourmet Happy Hour|
Strapped for cash? You can still treat, if you know where (and when) to go. One posh brand with a delicious and affordable Happy Hour focus is Kimpton Hotels. Offerings vary by location but, for example, BLVD 16 at the Palomar in Los Angeles has a "Bites" menu with small plates starting at $3.
|USDA Prime Steak|
Culinary trends may come and go, but a great steak is always sure to please the patriarch. At high-end chains like Ruth's Chris or Del Frisco's (pictured), a juicy bone-in rib eye or tender filet is understood to be the perfect key to happiness, with conversation and side dishes as optional add-ons.
|Go Heart-Healthy With Grilled Veggies|
If you're doing steak with the trimmings, skip the potatoes au gratin. No one's system really needs all that extra grease and carbs. Balance the prime beef with perfectly trimmed asparagus or grilled Romaine hearts. If you're hosting and want to dazzle everyone with your chef skills, try Andrea Correale's grilled zucchini rollers -- recipe available here.
|Cigars and Classic Cocktails|
A strong cocktail and a cigar in a place like the recently revamped Carnegie Club cigar lounge in Midtown Manhattan (pictured) is a timeless bonding experience, given new relevance by AMC's moody hit "Mad Men." Carnegie Club has actually created an entire cocktail menu themed around the show. Unlike most Don Draper-inspired moments, this one doesn't come with a scandal chaser.
|Top-Shelf and Extra-Strong|
If you're too far away to treat Dad to drinks and stogies, a bottle of some high-end, high-proof spirit says, "You're the man" just as eloquently. Pictured: Louis Royer "Force 53" VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, a high-proof libation equally delicious whether served neat or in a craft cocktail.
|Wood-Fired Pizza and a Big Red|
It doesn't matter whether you're in Brooklyn or on the California coast: The perfect al fresco meal on a summer evening is a simple wood-fired pizza and a great Cabernet or Barolo. The custom-built outdoor pizza oven at Farmstand 46 in Paso Robles is one of the biggest attractions for 250 miles, and like most pizza joints, it's casual and no-res-required, even on holiday weekends.
|Roast Beast by Tim Love|
The smoke, the sauce, the mess, the carnivorous delight of a heaping plate of barbecue: It's the ultimate all-American feast, and perfect for family celebrations. For home chefs looking to be inspired, we recommend the "big as Texas" flavors of ChefTimLove.com, Fort Worth master of classic grilling, smoking and "New Q."
|Foie Gras: The Special-Occasion Indulgence|
With the foie gras ban effective in California within a matter of days, it's West Coast foodies' last chance to indulge in this ultimate francophile treat. Every chef's got a different way to prepare, from a simple terrine to the oh-so-decadent foie gras French toast pictured, served at the trendy cosmopolitan meatery STK.