After you’ve abandoned your New Year’s resolutions, we’d like you to direct your attention to this compendium of advice we’ve found unwaveringly useful and true month to month, year to year. It covers everything from the culinary to the sartorial to the behavioral and beyond. Consider this guide a starter kit for how to be a modern gentleman.
Sure, you could invest in a knife-block set bristling with blades, but you really need only one, provided it’s the right one. This handsome knife from New West KnifeWorks in Wyoming will provide you with a lifetime of perfectly sliced onions, exquisitely carved roast beef and precisely sharpened pencils. Eight-inch chef’s knife, $269, newwestknifeworks.com
2. PRACTICE SAFE TEXT • Even though a text seems disposable and impermanent, it’s not. As with e-mail, the rule is: If you’re not willing to share it with the world, don’t write it.
3. POCKET IT • Keep your phone in your pocket in restaurants and bars, places specifically designed for people to enjoy one another’s company. Bonus: If you’re not reading Facebook updates, you’re more likely to meet the girl at the end of the bar.
4. CONTENT CONSENT • Just because you’re cool with sharing a drunken group selfie doesn’t mean your friends are. Ask for their permission before you post or tweet. If you’re going to learn how to make only one drink, this is the one The sour is the basis of some of the world’s best drinks. The formula is two parts strong, one part sour, three quarters of a part sweet. Commit this to heart and you’ll be able to make classic margaritas and daiquiris and improvise countless others. Shake the ingredients below over ice and strain into a coupe glass.
ONE RECIPE. INFINITE DRINKSDRINK 2 STRONG 1 SOUR ¾ SWEET FLOURISH 6. Aviation gin lemonjuice maraschinosyrup violet 7. Mezcalrita mescal lime juice simplesyrup salt 8. Mojito white rum lime juice simple syrup muddled mint 9. Sidecar cognac lemon juice Cointreau orange slice 10. Pisco Sour pisco lime juice simple syrup egg white 11. Bee’s Knees gin lemon juice honey lavender
Watch styles come and go (remember when bigger was better and digital was novel?), but nothing is as cool as a Rolex. And the only thing cooler than a Rolex is a vintage Rolex. The best place to buy (or sell) vintage Rolexes is Bobswatches.com, a serious site with a funny name. You can get a Submariner for two grand less than the price of a new one, or break the bank on a Cosmograph Daytona, a.k.a. “the Paul Newman.” Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, $80,000
We’ve all met the guy who can uncork a bottle of wine with his shoe or open a beer with a Bic lighter, but how many men can claim to practice the showy and surprisingly easy art of sabering open a bottle of champagne? Well, every man who reads this. We recommend viewing a YouTube tutorial, but here are the basics.
NO CHAMPAGNE, NO GAIN
14. READY • Get that bottle of champagne super cold. Warm champagne will gush out, wasting precious bubbles. Remove the foil capsule and cage from the bottle, taking care not to accidentally pull out the cork.
15. AIM • Hold the bottom of the champagne bottle with your weak hand and point it away from yourself, other people, windows and food. Locate the seam that runs vertically along the neck. See how it meets the lip of the bottle? That’s the weak spot, where you’ll concentrate your force.
16. FIRE • With your strong hand take a chef’s knife (at least eight inches long). Lay the blade flat on the neck of the bottle, with the dull side pointing away from you (the sharp edge will break). In one brisk movement slide it forward along the neck as if you were punching straight out. Be sure to follow through.
17. ENJOY • Watch the cork and lip of the bottle snap off. Hold the open bottle aloft and bask in the applause.
A motorcycle jacket doesn’t need to be leather to be cool. And we mean cool both figuratively and literally. Waxed cotton is favored for its waterproof yet breathable qualities, and it’s what makes this jacket by Belstaff so tough. It says “motorcycle” but doesn’t overstate it, so you can look badass even without a bike. Belstaff Roadmaster jacket, $850, mrporter.com
Set up this handsome Pro-Ject Debut turntable ($399) at your next party so your guests can play DJ and marvel at old-school high fidelity.
Black cap-toe lace-up oxfords are the most versatile dress shoes on the planet: You can wear them with black, blue or gray suits, with tuxedos and with black or blue denim. The trick is getting a classic pair with sleek lines and a slightly rounded toe. Why slightly rounded? Because classic lines always work. Square-toed shoes went out of style five years ago, and pointy-toed shoes did last year. Church’s, Gucci, Ferragamo and Grenson make exceptional styles year in and year out. Church’s Hong Kong oxfords, $535, mrporter.com
31. HOLD THE DOOR • Not just for women but for men too. It’s gallant, it’s a dying art, and certain women find it attractive.
32. GIVE UP YOUR SEAT • It’s shocking how few men yield their seat to pregnant women, the elderly or the disabled. Lead by example.
33. HELP OLD LADIES ACROSS THE STREET • Enough said. And depositing into the karma bank feels amazing.
A blue suit is the cornerstone of a man’s wardrobe. And though that’s been said countless times, it has never before been as easy to get one that fits and flatters and can be broken apart, dressed up and dressed down. More designers are selling suit jackets and pants as separates. The suit to beat is the J. Crew Ludlow, made with good fabric and smart details. Other brands, from H&M to Burberry, offer excellent versions at every price point. Here’s what to look for.
SUIT YOURSELF35. The Color Dark blue is the most versatile color: It can look dashing at night and serious during the day, and will work as a classic blue blazer should you wear it alone. 37. The Lapels Two-inch-wide lapels are slimming and flattering. They’re not too skinny mod and not too 1980s wide. A classic notched lapel is the most enduring style. 39. The Buttons Buy a suit with two buttons on the jacket. Two buttons create a strong triangular shape on the torso. They also make the jacket more blazer-like as a separate. 36. The Arms Look for a jacket with high arm holes. This means it won’t look baggy and again will work well as a blazer. Shorten the sleeves to show some shirt cuff. 38. The Length Get a jacket that barely covers your ass. You don’t want it to look like a skirt. If your torso is short, there’s no shame in getting a short jacket. 40. The Pants Flat fronts are crisp looking and can be worn all by themselves. Be sure to clean the pants and jacket at the same time to keep the color consistent.
Every guy can cook a steak, but not everyone knows the subtle ins and outs of achieving carnivorous perfection, with the steak’s exterior perfectly crusty and caramelized, the interior meltingly tender and juicy and the beefy flavor coming through loud and clear. If you’re going to claim to be a real man, you’d better have the chops to back it up. Here are the crucial steps to mastering your meat.
HERE’S THE BEEF
42. SOURCE IT • The bone-in rib eye is the most flavorful and well-marbled steak you can buy; an inch and a half is the best thickness. Go with grain-finished beef for maximum juiciness.
43. SALT IT • Salt suppresses bitterness and brings out the true flavors of the beef. Use kosher salt and sprinkle it on all sides so it looks like a dusting of snow.
44. LET IT REST • Let the steak sit at room temperature for an hour or two. This gives the salt time to penetrate the meat; it also takes the chill out of the center of the beef, ensuring even cooking.
45. SEAR IT • Blot the steak dry with paper towels. Hit it with freshly cracked black pepper. In a smoking-hot pan coated with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, sear the steak for about two minutes on each side. You want it crusty and brown. Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer; 125 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for medium rare.
46. LET IT REST AGAIN • Wait 10 minutes before slicing the steak. You want the precious juices to settle and end up in your mouth, not on the cutting board.
Dressing down doesn’t mean you need to dress like a schlub or chase the latest fleeting trend only to find your ironic graphic T-shirt screams 2005. Invest in a few proven pieces that always look and feel right. 47. Basic Blue Jeans History has shown time and again that you can’t go wrong with a dark pair of denim that’s not too skinny and not too wide. Best Brand: Levi’s Made & Crafted 48. Cheap White T-Shirt A white cotton V-neck flatters the face and matches everything. But it gets dirty fast, so don’t waste your money on a fancy one. Best Brand: Hanes 49. Black Cashmere Sweater Whether it’s a pullover or a cardigan, a soft cashmere sweater is one of those expensive pieces that’s worth every penny. Best Brand: John Varvatos
Grills are good, but any chef will tell you a cast-iron pan is the superior tool for cooking a steak (and just about everything else). It distributes heat evenly and keeps the steak from getting scorched, and though grill marks look cool, the pan’s flat surface makes maximum contact with the meat, ensuring a perfect crust. New cast-iron pans work, but the best ones were made before World War II, when iron ore and manufacturing methods produced lighter, nearly nonstick kitchenware. Vintage Wagners and Griswolds can go for hundreds of dollars online. Keep your eyes on garage sales and Craigslist, where you can snag them for $20 if you’re lucky. Vintage Griswold pan, $350, thepan-handler.com
Just because other men have given up in the face of modern air travel and treat the airport and airplanes as a public version of their living rooms on a sloppy Saturday afternoon, it doesn’t mean you have to lose your pride when you fly. Here are three ways to travel with self-respect. Benedict weekend bag, $695, mooreandgiles.com
52. ALWAYS CARRY ON • Never check a bag. Even though the journey is the destination, there’s no reason you need to suffer the insult of lost luggage or wait 30 minutes for your checked bag to come off the carousel. You’d rather be, say, drinking a cocktail in a Ginza speakeasy instead of waiting for your stuff.
53. DRESS WITH RESPECT • A dark cotton blazer, new jeans and a dark pair of Vans are comfortable, look good and will get you through security and into the bar at your hotel.
54. BOOK SOLID • Always mix business with pleasure as conveniently as possible. Skip the business district and pick a hotel in a nightlife-heavy neighborhood.
Lighting is one of those things most men are abysmal at getting right (if you’ve ever draped a T-shirt over your bedside lamp, you know what we’re talking about). Candle shopping isn’t exactly something dads do with their sons. Yet lighting is everything when it comes to setting a romantic mood or throwing a party nobody wants to leave. The essential principles for a party: Don’t use any overhead lighting (unless it’s a disco ball); do buy a ton of unscented candles and set them up throughout your house. The same rules apply to seduction—but skip the disco ball and go easy on the candles.
The rules of the road aren’t limited to what you learned in drivers ed and the occasional DMV online tutorial. There are finer points of car buying and driving that are in danger of being lost in this era of distracted driving. These are skills that can be traced back to Steve McQueen, Mario Andretti and, yes, James Bond—men who knew both the rules of the road and how to rule the road.
57. GO TO THE REAR • There’s a reason the best sports cars and hot rods have rear-wheel drive: They offer better grip and handling in aggressive driving situations. If you’re going to express your midlife crisis automotively, do it with something like a Dodge Charger or Porsche 911.
58. MANUAL UP • Learning to drive a stick shift not only intimately connects you to your car and the road, it also allows you to rent the zippiest cars in foreign countries where automatic transmission hasn’t yet taken over.
59. STAY IN YOUR LANE • In Germany, Italy and other serious car cultures, lane discipline makes for blissfully efficient highway cruising. Emulate a European and go fast in the left lane, slow in the right. No exceptions.
60. LOOK SHARP • The best way to avoid a crash is to keep your eyes on where you want to go. Look at the wall you’re trying to avoid and you’ll hit it, but look at the gap in traffic you want to get to and you’ll be out of trouble.