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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Kingston Negroni

Kingston Negroni

You might define a really, really good cocktail as one that is perfect just how it is, requiring no alterations. So it's a bit funny that it's the really good cocktails that get riffed on and played around with the most. It's not a bad way to experiment, especially if you're new to designing your own drinks: take a formula you know you love and try swapping out one of the ingredients. Maybe it won't work right away; craft cocktail recipes are carefully-tuned, and switching something out may require a bit less or more of something. Figuring out exactly what works can be really interesting, and good practice for building your own recipes from scratch.

It's hard to find a cocktail more beloved (or one with more variations) than the Negroni. Its simplicity is what makes it great, and also what makes it easy to adjust. Like whiskey more than gin? Try a Boulevardier. Find Campari too bitter? Use Aperol instead. Want something a bit lighter? Substitute dry vermouth for the usual sweet. I've seen some Negroni variations get quite elaborate (and in my book it's debatable whether it's still a Negroni once you veer away from the formula of three-ingredients-including-gin) but like great cocktails, great variations are often simple as well.

Cutting orange peels with the Jackson Cannon Bar Knife

In that spirit I give you the Kingston Negroni. It's simple as can be: use rum instead of gin. Specifically a Jamaican rum if you have one. Jamaican rums are quite unique. They are fermented longer than most rums, and this process often includes something called "dunder" or "muck," essentially the leftover stuff from previous distillations, which is left exposed to the ambient air and microbes before being added to a fresh batch of rum. If that sounds pretty gross, it kind of is - descriptions of the muck pits at Jamaican distilleries are not exactly appealing. But the product of this fermentation is then distilled in pot stills, leaving behind anything questionable and yielding a rum that has a truly singular quality called "hogo." The word refers to the funky, fruity flavor that separated Jamaican rum from others. As my virtual friend and rum afficionado Faith writes, the hogo of Jamaican rum is similar to the smokiness of Islay Scotch - a unique flavor quality that comes from the local practices and separates it from other spirits in the same category.

Kingston Negroni

Like a smoky Scotch, a truly funky Jamaican rum can be a bit polarizing. I recently bought a bottle of Smith & Cross, the recommended rum for this cocktail, and wow is it funky. It's honestly a little much for me. I currently prefer Appleton Estate in this drink, which still has those critical qualities but tones down the funkiness in comparison. If you're a Jamaican rum novice, the Signature Blend is the bottle I'd recommend. I use it in tons of cocktails.

Jamaican rum makes the Kingston Negroni a bit sweeter and fruitier while still maintaining the balanced and bitter essence of the original drink. If you like Negronis, you've got to try this twist.

History: The Kingston Negroni was created by Joaquín Simó at Pouring Ribbons, one of my favorite bars in New York. He invented it immediately after tasting Smith & Cross for the first time.

Kingston Negroni

Kingston Negroni

1 oz. Jamaican rum
1 oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica recommended)
1 oz. Campari

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.

Recipe and history from Punch.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Seville

Seville Cocktail

Instagram has been an amazing source of new recipes for me. I have dozens of drinks bookmarked, and when I'm interested in trying something new, I often browse the list for ideas. That's how I found the Seville. My friends over at Cocktail Detour shared this lovely drink, and it instantly became a part of my repertoire.

The Seville is a variation on the classic Martini. It's still quite dry, but the floral flavor of Lillet Blanc and nutty hints of fino sherry make it a bit sweeter and more delicate. Two dashes of orange bitters and two orange twists (one flamed) lend a hefty dose of citrus. I particularly love this drink with Barr Hill Gin, which is distilled with honey.

Flaming an orange twist

Let's quickly talk about flaming twists! This does not involve actually touching the flame to the peel. Instead, you express the oils of the peel the same way you do with a regular twist, but you do it through a flame, roasting them before they hit the drink. You should see the flame flare up briefly as the oils pass through. This adds a slightly smoky, toasty flavor to the citrus oil and can really change the character of a cocktail. I added a decorative twist afterwards just for fun.

History: The Seville was created by Nick Mautone, who works as a cocktail consultant in New York. (Yes, that's a job, and yes, I want to do it.) He created it for the Michelin-starred restaurant Country (now closed).

Seville Cocktail

Seville

2 oz. gin (Barr Hill recommended)
3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
2 dashes orange bitters
1/2 oz. fino sherry (to rinse)
2 orange twists

Rinse a coupe with the sherry and express one of the orange twists into it. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into the prepared glass and flame the second orange twist over the top.

Recipe adapted from Cocktail Detour.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Principessa di Sole

Principessa di Sole Batch Cocktails

There's nothing I love better than cracking open a new cocktail recipe book. More often than not, the entire side and/or top of the book quickly becomes bristly with little post-it tabs marking the drinks I'd like to try. It's true that there are many, many great recipes available on the internet, but there's something special about having the physical books. They're like tomes of potions or magic spells waiting to be mixed up.

If I had my way, I would own pretty much every cocktail recipe book ever published. But since I have a small budget and an even smaller apartment, I've kept my collection to a single shelf. And recently, I was overjoyed to add Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails to it. It's a book of large-format drinks that you can make ahead to serve at parties or get-togethers. I was expecting a lot of citrusy punches full of fruits and syrups, and there are plenty of these, but I was very impressed by how many spirit-forward options Maggie includes as well. It makes sense - once citrus fruit is juiced, the liquid begins to change in acidity and bitterness, so you can't make citrusy cocktails as far in advance as more spiritous drinks, which you can literally age for months. The book is a really balanced collection of recipes (including non-alcoholic options), and I honestly wish it had the proportions for single drinks as well as the large batches, because I definitely want to make some of these just for me, and I'd rather not have to do math.

Principessa di Sole Batch Cocktails

I freely confess that while the Principessa di Sole did sound delicious, I chose to make it primarily because of its vibrant color and lovely garnish. But I was blown away by this drink. Made with Amaro Montenegro*, white rum, raspberry syrup, citrus juices, and sparkling wine, it is absolutely, utterly delicious. It balances boozy, bitter, citrusy, sweet, and fizzy in just the right way. I will 100% be bringing a pitcher of it to my next party. But in case you don't have any upcoming social engagements, I've also figured out the recipe for a single a drink and included it below. You might wish you'd made yourself a pitcher.

*Alas, we have not talked about Amaro Montenegro much yet, and I usually like to officially introduce an ingredient before I use it so prominently in a cocktail. I discuss it a little in my post on Amari. It's one of the most popular amari out there and definitely one I recommend, but you could try substituting Averna or Cynar here.

History: The Principessa di Sole was created by Elliot Clark of Bon Voyage in San Francisco.

Principessa di Sole Batch Cocktails

Principessa di Sole

For one cocktail:

1 1/2 oz. Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz. white rum
1-2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1/2 oz. raspberry syrup**
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. lime juice
2 oz. sparkling wine

Combine everything except sparkling wine in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with a mint sprig, a raspberry, and a lime wheel.

Principessa di Sole Batch Cocktails


For 10 servings:

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp. Amaro Montenegro
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. white rum
2 tsp. Peychaud's bitters
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chilled raspberry syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. lemon juice
5 tbsp. lime juice
2 1/2 cups chilled sparkling wine
10 mint sprigs
10 raspberries
10 lime wheels

At least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before serving, make the batch. Pour Amaro Montenegro, white rum, bitters, and chilled raspberry syrup into a 2-quart pitcher and stir to mix. Seal well, covering with plastic wrap if needed, and refrigerate.

Up to 2 hours before serving, prepare lemon and lime juice and stir into the pitcher mix. Reseal and return to the refrigerator if not serving immediately.

To serve, stir well. Gently pour in chilled sparkling wine, then stir mixture gently once more. Pour into ice-filled rocks glasses or punch cups. Garnish each glass with a mint sprig, a fresh raspberry, and a lime wheel. (Alternatively, serve in a punch bowl with all the garnishes thrown in - Maggie doesn't recommend this in the recipe but there's a picture of it and it's a beautiful presentation.)

**For raspberry syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Add raspberries and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes, using the back of the spoon to mash the raspberries against the side of the pan. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a resealable container and refrigerate until chilled or up to 1 week.

Recipe from Batch Cocktails. I was gifted an advance copy of the book.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Bottle Buy: Italicus

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

If you're not already seeing this beautiful blue glass bottle everywhere, I can guarantee you will shortly. It belongs to Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto. Not since St. Germain have I seen a new ingredient as talked about and adored. It launched in 2016 and won a number of awards the following year, including Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient at Tales of the Cocktail.

Italicus is a Rosolio, a classic type of Italian liqueur. The name is comes from a species of sundew, Drosera rotundifolia, that was classically used to flavor the liqueur. The plant is called "ros solis" in Italy. Rosolios are also frequently flavored with rose petals, which makes many people (including me!) think that this is where the name comes from. Difford's Guide offers the best explanation and history of Rosolio that I have found if you're interested in reading more about the category in general. While many people outside of Italy are not familiar with Rosolio, within the country it is still frequently made (often at home) and consumed as an aperitivo.

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto Spritz Spritzicus

Italicus was created by Giuseppe Gallo. Born in Campania, Italy, Gallo worked as a brand ambassador for Martini & Rossi and has an extensive knowledge of amari and vermouths. He was surprised that no one outside of Italy was drinking Rosolio. He wanted to create a new spirit, drawing on his Italian heritage. He used the citrus fruit Bergamot (the same one that flavors Earl Grey tea) to flavor the liqueur, remembering how his mother would flavor dishes with its zest. The Bergamot comes from nearby Calabria, where it has been grown for centuries and is frequently used in Rosolio. Gallo set out to make a Bergamot-flavored Rosolio that would be at home on a modern bar. "It was really important to me to add to it a modern twist, a new profile that would allow bartenders to play with an additional flavor," he told Tales of the Cocktail.

In addition to Bergamot, Italicus is flavored with cedar, chamomile, lavender, gentian, yellow rose, and lemon balm. It is bittersweet like an amaro, but much lighter, with notes of citrus and herbs. I get a slight menthol flavor from it that I did not expect. It's easy to mix with and makes a perfect aperitif. While its flavor speaks for itself, its beautiful bottle (designed by Stranger & Stranger) doesn't hurt either. It seems to me like a perfect example of a spirit where every aspect, from conception to creation to packaging to marketing, was done to perfection. It's been popping up in cocktails all over Boston and no doubt elsewhere as well.

Italicus

Price: $37
Alcohol Content: 20%
Popular Cocktails: Negroni Bianco Bergamotto, Ipalicus, Spritzicus, Gin and Italicus


Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto Spritz Spritzicus

While I'm not too keen on the "Spritizicus" moniker its creators gave it, a classic spritz made with Italicus is definitely an enjoyable aperitivo and a great way to try out this liqueur. A garnish of olives may seem strange, but it's a perfect contrast to the sweetness of the liqueur. If you like an Aperol Spritz, switch it up and try some Italicus.

Spritzicus

3 oz. Italicus
3 oz. prosecco

Build in a wine glass filled with ice. Stir briefly and garnish with three Castelvetrano or Gaeta olives.

Recipe from Italicus. Historical and brand information came mostly from Difford's Guide and Tales of the Cocktail.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mr. Fancypants

Mr. Fancypants cocktail at Darwin's Ltd.

Guys, I am so excited about this cocktail. This is officially my first cocktail recipe that is on an actual cocktail menu. You can go to Darwin's Ltd. in Cambridge and order a Mr. Fancypants. And they won't look at you like you're crazy! Despite the silly name I gave it.

Darwin's Ltd. is a chain of cafes in Cambridge that I've been a fan of for a long time. Their location near Harvard was my go-to for lattes and lunch during my postdoc. The Mt. Auburn Street location is a good place to pick up a bottle of wine or some craft beer. But their location on Massachusetts Avenue actually serves wine, beer, and cocktails. They have a cordials license, which is a weird Massachusetts thing - they can't serve hard liquor like straight whiskey, gin, rum, or vodka, but they can serve liqueurs. And there are a lot of great drinks you can make with just liqueurs!

Mr. Fancypants cocktail at Darwin's Ltd.

The Mr. Fancypants is a riff on the Boulevardier, one of my favorite cocktails. That's the reason for the name - "boulevardier" basically refers to a fashionable, wealthy person, a man-about-town. The evening I was working on the cocktail, my husband was trying on some new clothes he had ordered, and the prints he had chosen were a bit flashier than what he usually wears. I said, "Look at you, Mr. Fancypants," and that was that.

The base of this cocktail is a spiced rum that is a-ok for a cordials license, and it also contains some of Darwin's spectacular cold brew coffee. If you want to make it at home and don't have spiced rum, try substituting an aged rum. Apple brandy is also excellent.

But if you live in the Boston area, please go check out Darwin's and order one!! I love spots where you can order a drink and work on your laptop or linger with a book, and Darwin's is absolutely perfect for that. They serve wine, beer, and cocktails all day in addition to tons of tasty food and some of the best coffee in town.

Mr. Fancypants cocktail at Darwin's Ltd.

Mr. Fancypants

3/4 oz. spiced rum
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. cold brew coffee

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange twist. Aren't you fancy!

Monday, March 11, 2019

1919

1919 Cocktail

A few weeks ago I finally went to get a drink at Craigie on Main, a restaurant/bar that has been a Cambridge mainstay for the past ten years. I was drawn to a cocktail called the 1919, which was listed as a "classic" on the menu even though I had never heard of it. The bartender explained that it was something of a local classic, created a few miles away at Drink. This only made me love it more. And I already really loved it. Spirit-forward and rich, it's reminiscent of a Manhattan or a Vieux Carre. It is an absolutely lovely drink to sip on.

1919 Cocktail

The 1919 has a split base of rye whiskey and rum. The recommended rum is Old Monk, which I keep hearing about recently. It's an Indian rum, quite cheap but much-loved. Definitely something I'm going to add to my bar soon! In the meantime, Appleton Estate was a wonderful replacement. Benedictine, Punt e Mes, and Mole Bitters round out the recipe. I personally like reducing the recommended 1/2 oz. of Benedictine to 1/4 oz. to keep the drink from getting too sweet.

1919 Cocktail

History: The 1919 was created by Ben Sandrof at Drink in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood. He named it after the year of the Boston Molasses Flood (affectionately known as the Boston Molassacre) because of the molasses notes in the rum. The Molasses Flood took place on January 15th, 1919 - the day before Prohibition ended. I just realized that I missed the 100th anniversary of this weird and tragic event! Still, 2019 seems like the perfect year to sip on a 1919.

1919 Cocktail

1919

3/4 oz. rye whiskey (Rittenhouse recommended; I used Redemption)
3/4 oz. rum (Old Monk recommended; I used Appleton Estate Signature Blend)
1 oz. Punt e Mes
1/4 oz. Benedictine
1 dash Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass. No garnish.

Recipe from Cocktail Virgin Slut.
Photos taken at The Canopy Room.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Hurricane

Hurricane cocktail

If you've visited New Orleans, you're probably familiar with a cocktail called the Hurricane. Famously served at Pat O'Brien's in the French Quarter, the drink is recognizable by its distinctive glass and technicolor shade of bright red. As a tourist, you might be tempted to lump the it with the other not-so-great cocktails that are readily poured into plastic go-cups for consumption on Bourbon Street. But the Hurricane has a far more respectable history than a Hand Grenade or frozen Daiquiri. And, made correctly, it tastes much better as well. Since Mardi Gras is this week, I thought it was the perfect time to introduce this classic New Orleans drink.

A mixture of rum (a lot of rum), syrup, and fruit juice, the Hurricane is sometimes included in the category of Tiki cocktails. This isn't technically accurate, as Tiki is a very specific movement inspired by Polynesia, and the Hurricane has its roots firmly in New Orleans. But it's definitely an example of convergent evolution in the cocktail world, and you very well might find the Hurricane on a Tiki menu. It fits right in.

So why aren't my Hurricanes that recognizable shade of bright red? Well, not to knock Pat O's - which is totally worth a visit if you're in town - but the Hurricanes served there today are made from an artificial, sugary mix. Which I guess is good news if you want to make yourself a genuine Pat O'Brien's Hurricane at home. But if you're less interested in the nostalgia of your trip to New Orleans and more interested in having a tasty rum cocktail, then you should make your Hurricane from scratch. If you do that, the only bright red ingredient that might be going in is grenadine, and probably just a dash. Your Hurricane should come out closer to the pale orange pictured here.

The original Hurricane was made with three ingredients: gold rum, lemon juice, and a fruit syrup called Fassionola. Since Fassionola hasn't been available for years, most recipes substitute passionfruit syrup. But a bit more goes into Fassionola than just passionfruit: it's a complicated mix of seven tropical juices, dried hibiscus, citric acid, and sugar. Recently Cocktail & Sons came out with a bottled version so you can finally make a genuine Hurricane again. You can also try making your own if you're up for it. I, personally, was not, and Cocktail & Sons is currently sold out, so I used homemade passionfruit syrup.

Perhaps the Fassionola would have given these cocktails the extra bit of complexity they needed, but I wasn't happy with my three-ingredient Hurricanes - I found them a little too tart, a little too simple, and not very reminiscent of the "real thing" from Pat O's. So I started hunting for alternative recipes. There are a lot of them out there. I settled on a variation of Liquor.com's version, which has a little orange juice and grenadine, and uses lime instead of lemon. Perhaps this isn't the "original" Hurricane, but it's the one I like best. Happy Mardi Gras!

Hurricane cocktail

History: Pat O'Brien's began its life as a speakeasy during Prohibition. (Supposedly the password to get in was "storm's brewin'.") Once Prohibition ended in December of 1933, it opened legally as Mr. O'Brien's Club Tipperary on the corner of Royal and St. Peter Streets in the French Quarter. In 1942 it moved to its current location on St. Peter.

During World War II, it was difficult for bar owners to get their hands on whiskey, which is what people wanted to drink. Distributors started requiring bars to purchase a certain amount of abundant, easily-obtainable rum for every bottle of whiskey. So Mr. O'Brien found himself with a lot of extra rum lying around and needed a way to convince people to drink it. Thus the Hurricane was born. The actual recipe may have been created by the head bartender at Pat O's, Louis Culligan. The signature glass the drink was served in, shaped like the glass of a hurricane lantern, helped to increase its popularity.

The original hurricane recipe, published by Culligan in Cabaret magazine in 1956, is a simple one: 4 oz. gold rum, 2 oz. lemon juice, and 2 oz. Fassionola.

Pat O'Brien's
Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans

Hurricane

2 oz. aged rum
2 oz. white rum
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. passionfruit syrup*
1 tsp. grenadine

Shake with ice until chilled and strain into a Hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

*I used the recipe for passionfruit syrup from Smuggler's Cove. First make a 2:1 simple syrup by mixing 2 parts sugar with 1 part water in a saucepan and simmering it until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely. Then combine equal parts syrup and passionfruit puree. The best place to find this is your grocery's freezer aisle. Hispanic food stores are also more likely to carry it.

Recipe adapted from Liquor.com. History from Distiller Blog and Wikipedia.