Issue No. 024 “Bittersweet Symphony”

 

 

 


hat bitter ruby red elixir , something about its balance of bitterness ,sweet and underlying herbal notes had me hooked from the get go. Yes I’m talking about Campari the bitter sorceress that plays so well with others yet always manages to stand out with her own amaroidal voice, I use it in all manner of ways , mixed with lemon lime soda, IPA beer & grapefruit, freeze it into an after dinner palate cleansing treat, or dehydrate it into pink fairy like dust for sprinkling.

There’s a tale out there (maybe tall maybe true) about a  Nobleman also partial to a glass or two of this jewel like temptress, the story goes that  one day around 1919 a certain Count Camillo of Florence , Italy  made a simple request  to his bartender , he needed his usually satisfying Americano cocktail made stronger, the Americano is a highball built over ice consisting of equal parts Campari  and sweet vermouth topped with soda water . The bartender pondered and turned to a bottle of gin, he poured out an equal amount of gin and added it to the glass but this time without soda and finished with a spritz of orange oil. The result was at once bitter and sweet, racy and refreshing and warming and spicy, the color of a deep red treasure  winking across the bar at the Count demanding that he savor it, he became a man bewitched , the bartender named it using Camillo’s last name  and so the Negroni was born.

Who knows why the good Count thought of it, maybe a day of frustrations led him to need something stiffer we shall never know, so happy was he with the result  the Count and his family opened a distillery and made the first pre-packaged version marketed as Antico Negroni ( and you thought bottled cocktails were new!). The Negroni  has become one of the most recognized classic drinks and in many cocktail bars I’ve  auditioned at the first drink I was  asked to make to prove ability. If the bartender shakes it or adds the wrong ratios then its an immediate fail, but get the proportions, garnish  and the chill on the nectar just so and your taste buds will be enveloped in its splendid bittersweet symphony.

Typically drank as an aperitif  , the  bitterness rounded out by a spicy sweet vermouth plus the nerve taming tonic of a good dry gin is the perfect end in my mind to the day or beginning of a great evening,   these days  I’ve seen the Negroni made with Dutch Genever adding a lovely malty finish or turned into a lesser known classic the Boulevardier by subbing out whiskey for the gin, the whiskey I think turns the drink into an after dinner sipper which is fine since the chinoto from the Campari also works as  a digestive aid. The Negroni to me is also the quintessential summer cocktail  and with summer  ( yes time has gone too fast this year) comes Negroni Cocktail week put together by Imbibe magazine and Campari , a seven day celebration of the classic Negroni and its variations, participating bars will donate a portion of Negroni sales to their favorite charities,its also a chance for the bar community to gather together and give something back. If you would like to join in the festivities go here for a list of participating bars in your area, my own list includes The Varnish, Eveleigh, Tasting Kitchen and Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles and Broadway restaurant in Laguna , please also visit us at Ink in West Hollywood where I’ll be serving up our Rapid Barrel aged Negroni sous vide for 2 days, as well as our Boulevardier finished with a splash of lambic ale, or if you’re hearing the call of adventure maybe I’ll hook you up with a hit or two of Campari dust.

And now , without further stories my Ode to the Negroni and all it inspires , but if like me you prefer playing the Hermit from time to time and are not in the mood for playing with others, here’s seven days worth of recipes for you to get your own bitter sweet symphony on with!

monday June 2nd….Start your engines with this lovely smooth Barrel aged Negroni. 

Serves 12 ( or 4 really thirsty peeps)

12 oz Fords Gin

12  oz Noilly Prat or Cocchi Vermouth Di Torrino

12 oz Campari

16 dashes orange bitters

1 barrel stave ( Tuthilltown distillery  in NY sells packs)

orange zest for garnish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Combine everything in an airtight preferably glass container like a ball canning jar ( a big one) stir and add the barrel stave. Allow to sit in a dark corner of your pad for at least a week, no cheating you need a nice flavor to develop. If you are lucky enough to have access to an Immersion Circulator, toss everything into a large vacuum sealable bag, seal up and sous vide at 55 degrees C for 2 days, let  the bag chill down before decanting into an airtight bottle .

Once ready, pour in 3 oz of batch per person into a mixing glass, add cracked ice and stir for about 30 seconds until a nice chill develops on your glass, strain into chilled ice filled rocks glasses and garnish with an orange twist, feeling fancy, you can flame the twist by setting fire to the expelled oils from the twist.

Tuesday June 3rd….chill out with a Negroni sour

1 1/2 oz Cap Rock gin

3/4 oz Campari

3/4  oz Sweet vermouth of choice

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 oz grapefruit juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

dash rosewater

1 oz egg white

garnish with Campari dust (recipe below)

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish to a Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for 1o seconds, add 4-5 ice cubes and shake again for 25 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled vessel of choice and sprinkle over a pinch of Campari Dust

 

Wednesday June 4th…round out hump day with Ink’s variation on a Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 oz Campari

1 oz Cocchi rosa

3 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

a splash of Timmerman’s strawberry lambic ale

garnish with an orange peel

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add spirits only into a mixing glass with cracked ice and stir for 25-30 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass , add splash of lambic ale and finish with your twist of orange peel.

 

Thursday June 5th….indulge with a Negroni Milk shake (you did Yoga all week you deserve it)

1 1/2 oz  Bols Genever

1 1/2 oz Campari

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1 cup of vanilla ice cream

2 dashes peychauds bitters

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 bar spoon citric solution 10:1 water to citric acid

1/8 oz vanilla extract

Campari dust to finish if you so wish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to a blender  with 4 ice cubes and blitz for about 15 seconds or until its nice and smooth, pour into a chilled glass of choice, add straw and slurp away!

 

Friday June 6th….get your friday frisk on with this cross between a Negroni, a salty, spicy margarita and a michelada….The Negritalada (perhaps)

3/4  oz of thai chili infused tequila ( if you want a pony kick instead of a ass whooping you can use half spicy and half regular tequila)

3/4 oz Vida Mezcal

3/4 oz Campari

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz agave nectar

1 oz fresh ruby  grapefruit juice

1/2 oz lime juice

a dash of vanilla extract

salt rim and IPA beer to finish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish into a your Boston shaker, shake for 25 seconds with 5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled, salt rimmed highball glass filled with ice, top off with a generous splash of IPA beer.

 

Saturday June 7th….Amp up your weekend with Negroni jello shots and Campari Dust Pixy Stix (or lines depending on your mindset)

For the Jello shots ( you will need to do this in stages giving one layer time to fully set before adding second layer)

Gin layer:

1 x 7 gram packet of  Knox gelatin

1/3 cup of Aviation gin

2/3 cup of lemon lime soda

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1/4 oz rosewater

Campari layer:

1  x 7 gram packet Knox gelatin powder

1/3 cup Campari

1/3 cup sweet vermouth

1/3 cup orange juice

Add gin+rosewater / Campari to a small bowl with the packet of gelatin powder, stir and allow to dissolve for 1 minute, meanwhile in a pan add your lemon lime soda/sweet vermouth+OJ to the heat and heat up to just before simmering. Take off and add lemon lime soda to gin rosewater and vermouth OJ mix to Campari. Stir to incorporate and fully dissolve the gelatin powder, add sugar and stir again dissolving sugar. Let sit for 3-4 minutes then pour into silicone ice cube trays from Cocktail Kingdom filling up to the half way line. Let sit for few minutes then place in the fridge for 3 hours to let fully set. When set repeat with second layer. To extract from tray, warm up a small palette knife with hot water and run around the edges of each cube, gently coax out and , depending on your mood, either gobble up or arrange neatly on serving tray .

 

For Campari Dust

1 cup Campari

1 cup powdered sugar

mix together well to dissolve sugar, I found its quicker to get absolutely all the lumps out if your sieve your sugar first. Add the slurry to a heavy bottomed pan and set onto a medium heat, this part takes some patience since you have to stand and stir the mix whilst it slowly evaporates down to a paste. Once pasty, take off heat and quickly spread out onto a silpat lines baking sheet ,spreading evenly with your trusty palette knife. Add to a very low oven and let it dehydrate over night. Once dry add to your blender and wazz it until it resembles a fine pink powder. Store in airtight container with silicone packets to stop it from clumping . Slurp up through straws, add to your ice cream, milk shakes, sours etc.

 

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

Sunday June 8th….Finish off with a refreshing Negroni Bianco Sgroppino

The Classic Negroni made with white bitters , carbonated  and poured over Campari grapefruit granita

serves 4

For the Campari Granita:

1/2 cup Campari

3 cups strained ruby grapefruit juice

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 oz rosewater

1/4 oz vanilla extract

Add grapefruit juice and sugar to pan and set on heat to dissolve sugar, add to Campari, rosewater and vanilla and stir. Allow to chill before pouring into a metal container that you will then set in the freezer. Every couple of hours you will need to stir the freezing mix to stop ice crystals from forming . When set, cover top with a sheet of parchment paper to protect from freezer burn.

for the Negroni Bianco:

6 oz Aviation gin

6 oz Tempus Fugit Gran Classico

6 oz Dolin blanc vermouth

add everything to a pitcher with a scoop of ice and stir to chill and dilute . Pour into either an ISI gun or a Twist and Sparkle contraption and charge with one CO2 gas charger.

 

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

With all your components ready and your glasses nice and frosty, get an ice cream scoop and portion out a generous scoop of the Campari granita into Coupe glasses, pour over the carbonated Negroni Bianco and garnish with  a twist of grapefruit peel.

 

Cin Cin!!!

Issue No. 010 In my time of dying

 

 

The product seems to have a direct effect on making me more regular. Order levitra canada? There are a lot of legitimate mail-order pharmacies in this country.

nce upon a time , many moons ago around the age of 22  I was hit by my first head banging hangover after a long night of drinking Brandy Alexanders and single malt scotch, it also  happens  to be  the day  after my  first  Hogmanay  spent  in  Scotland  ( more in  issue 009)the morning I still remember very clearly ( or maybe I should say the early eve ) I had used a bowl of peanuts that had been left on the floor as my pillow and awoke with several stuck to my face,luckily cell phones and instagram had not yet been invented or by pock marked face would be hanging around somewhere tormenting me in places other than my memory. Tis the first time I awoke and  felt like I had been hit by a truck, since then there have been many more occasions  usually after which I swear I will never touch another drop and yet somehow  and sometimes mere hours later I will be seduced by a jewel like glass filled with usually an amber colored enchanter, one whiff and am all his. Tis also the first time someone older and wiser than myself handed me  a glass of something stiff and told me to knock it back with the promise I would rapidly feel much better. This was my first introduction to an actual ” hair of the dog ” remedy, I think it was brandy, espresso and a ton of sugar, followed by my favorite breakfast a good old fashioned bacon and egg butty. Needless to say I survived that ordeal and went on to experience as well as fine tune many more such adventures in dog wrangling.

Am pretty sure we’ve all been there, waking up at 5 in the morning,heart pounding,  your mouth as dry as Maggie Smith’s humor and feeling like you’ve been run over by a herd of stampeding shoppers on their way to the Macy’s sale. As an antidote to the excesses of the New Year celebrations  most of us partook in I figured a dose of  something with more…ahem,  healing properties were  a good prescription for this issue.

This is also the time of the year where we all start to think about getting fit for summer, cleansing and detoxing  from all manner of over indulgence . Juice cleanses seem to be the most popular. For a while now I have been sacreligiously  mixing fresh veggie juices with my booze, I mean why not, should tomatoes be the only partner to your post binge pick me up, methinks no, besides tomato juice unless freshly pressed or made into tomato water as discussed in previous issues is infinitely less appealing to me than a glass of sweet and earthy carrot or beet juice. A restaurant I was bar manager of last year wanted a revamp of their brunch fair, they like most places had been sticking to the bog standard  mimosas or marys so I came up with a list of sippers that would both pair well with the chef’s dishes and garden to table vision and be a  refreshing , replenishing addition for the brunch diners. The menu was titled Hair of the Dog ( that bit you) and listed the health benefits gained under each drink.

Hair of the dog” is a colloquial expression used to refer to booze that is consumed with the aim of lessening the effects of a raging hangover. The expression originally referred to a method of treatment of a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound.The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of Shakepseare . Ebenezer Cobham Brewer ( great name) writes in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898): “In Scotland it is a popular belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences. Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine within 24 hours to soothe the nerves. ‘If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail the next day.’” He also cites two apocryphal poems containing the phrase, one of which is attributed to Aristophanes. It is possible that the phrase was used to justify an existing practice, and the idea of similia similbus curantur  (no, not a spell from Harry Potter but “like cures like”) dates back at least to the time of Hippocrates. Like cures like is also the basis of all Homeopathic medicines where small doses of what has made you fall ill are taken to help heal you. The operative phrase here is “small doses”, am not by any means endorsing a post binge binge but more of a little tipple to smooth out your rough and ragged morning edges.

This brings me also to the Corpse Reviver , a gothic sounding concoction which was made in the style of a classic cocktail, popular in the 1930′s ,it is one of a small family of drinks originally mixed as hangover remedies and are documented as far back as 1871.  Harry Craddock, cataloging them in the “Savoy Cocktail Book” in 1930, wrote, “To be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.” (He also famously cautioned: “Four of these taken in swift succession will quickly unrevive the corpse again.”) It was commonplace back in the day to be able to wander into a bar for an “eye opener” such as the corpse reviver that would shock your system and keep it going for the rest of the day. The drink needs to contain three key ingredients to work, sugar for energy, a stomach settler ( brandy or a bitter for instance) and  alcohol for that slap you in the face jolt .Whilst we all think we’re so modern and progressive these days how sad that in most bars these days you would only really find a bloody mary as a mid morning pick me up, that tradition of a well made pick me up has been replaced by a canned fizzy drink containing  synthetic hormone like substances derived from bulls testicles,you all know what am referring to, that drink that shall not be named, the Voldemort of beverages.

So next time you’re feeling a little peaky the morning after try one of these  more civilized “remedies” that will have you feeling frisky again in two shakes of a dogs tail. First the classic , then a bunch of interpretations.

Corpse Reviver #2

3/4 oz gin

3/4 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz Pierre Ferrand dry Curacao

3/4 ounce Cocchi Aperitivo Americano (original recipe called for Lillet blanc)

1/4 oz of absinthe to wash and perfume the glass.

optional lemon twist

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Combine ingredients over ice, shake vigorously  for about 30-40 seconds , add the absinthe to glass and swish it around then pour off the excess, strain your shaken cocktail into chilled  absinthe washed coupette. A garnish is unnecessary, but different recipes call for either a twist of lemon or a real maraschino cherry.

Beggs & Acon Flip

Ok so this one takes a wee bit of planning ahead , if you are not into the idea of smoking your beer then I forgive you , go without but it does add a lovely element to the drink, maybe save it for the moment when you want to show off to your mates.

1 can or bottle of dark beer, I opted for Old chub scotch ale

1 whole egg

1 oz bacon fat washed bourbon  ( recipe below in basics)

3/4 oz simple syrup ( 1:1 ratio sugar to hot water)

5 drops of Miracle Mile chocolate chilli bitters

1/2 oz Ramazotti Amaro

Smoking gun optional to add some smoke to your beer

Hickory  wood chips for feeding to the smoking gun monster

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

To smoke your beer add your wood chips to the chamber in the smoker, open your beer and pour a wee bit off, insert the nozzle from gun into the can or bottle and seal off with plastic wrap so your smoke does not escape. Set your wood alight and turn the gun on, smoke your beer for about 1 minute, turn off your gun and let the beer sit for about 5 mins swish the beer around lightly to get the smoke and liquid molecules mixed.

Once your beer  is ready, add everything to your Boston shaker except for the beer, give a quick dry shake to emulsify the egg, add ice and shake again for 40 seconds or thereabouts. Double strain into your vessel of choice, I am currently enamored by these half pint milk bottles that make me think of infant school morning recess. Any way I wandered off , then add your smoked (or unsmoked) ale.

 

Fernet Sour

1 1/2 oz Fernet Branca or  sub out a milder bitter depending on your cohones

1 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar to hot water, let cool before using)

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 egg white

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Throw everything into your Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for about 20 seconds to wake up your egg white and make it fluffy. Add ice and shake again for 30- 40 seconds, strain into your chilled vessel and brace yourself!

 

The June Bug

1 oz fresh kale juice

1 1/2 oz  silver tequila

1 oz Cocchi Americano

3/4 oz fresh lime juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

4 drops Miracle Mile yuzu bitters

pinch fine salt

cracked black pepper and lime wheels to garnish

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

throw everything but your garnish into a Boston shaker with cracked ice, shake for 40 seconds or so or until your tin gets nice and frosty. Strain into a chilled ice filled old fashioned glass, add your lime wheels and a turn or two of fresh black pepper.

 

In My Time Of Dying

1 1/2 oz gin, my favorite at minute is Ford’s gin for the 86 Company, Plymouth or Beefeater also good choices.

1 oz Salers gentian aperitif

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz Maraschino

1/2 oz Creme  Yvette or Violette, ( delicate floral flavor and gives a lovely gothic look to your drinks)

1 egg white

1 oz or so of champagne ( club soda will do in a pinch)

spritz of absinthe.

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

So I saw this technique of layering from the crew at Pouring Ribbons in NY,which reminded me of the classic Pousse Cafe drinks of long ago drank after the coffee course ( pousse cafe translates to push coffee and was a pretty layered drink made from sweet cordials that were layered with spirits such as cognac). The Ribbons team make a Negroni-esque drink thats just fantastic, I employed similar technique to make this once shaken sour into something slightly more dramatic and  deconstructed. You will need one big chunk of ice to accomplish the layering correctly, Cocktail Kingdom sells  silicon cube trays that do the job.

In your chilled old fashioned glass add your Violette or Creme Yvette, top with the oz of bubbles and plop in your ice cube. In your shaker dry shake the rest of your ingredients except for your absinthe. Add ice and shake again for another 30-40 seconds, strain allowing your ribbon or stream of liquid to pour gently onto your ice cube, if you do it too fast it will disrupt the liqueur at bottom and get too mixed up. Spoon out some of the foam on top and give a spritz of absinthe to finish drink, the lemon twist is optional, as a painter I am into colors and the yellow adds a touch of drama to the whole presentation.

Note: the technique might sound a bit complicated but once you get a hang of it , its a doddle to do.

 

Kombucha green tea gimlet

2 oz gin of choice thats been infused with a couple of  big spoons of  green tea leaves per 750 ml bottle of booze, you can also sub out vodka if thats your preference.

1 oz Salers gentian apertif

1/2 oz  Pierre Ferrand Curacao or other orange liqueur if you cant get a hold of the good stuff.

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 1/2 oz of Kombucha, I used ready made Lavender Kombucha from GT’s

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

throw everything into your mixing glass with cracked ice and give a good stir for about 40 seconds, strain into a chilled coupette and garnish with a lemon wheel and  a sprig of  mint.

 

The Basics

How to  fat wash a spirit

you will need:

1 cup of warm bacon fat, you can also use browned butter, chorizo or duck fat

1 750 ml  bottle of booze, I used Buffalo trace

a wide mouth jar

Add both your fat and booze to the jar, screw on lid,  give a good shake and let sit for a couple of hours. Put the jar in the freezer until the fat has solidified , get a spoon and smash the fat layer and pull off from the booze. Strain the liquor through a coffee strainer and then seal up in an airtight container such as the original bottle the booze came in.

Cocktail Kingdom Ice Tray $6.95

Nick and Nora cocktail glass

Creme Yvette

 Creme Yvette is a cordial that is about 100 years old, it was taken off the market in 1969 am sure due to lack of interest, it was revived recently by the good man behind St. Germain, Robert Cooper who’s family owned the recipe for Yvette since the 1930′s. The primary flavors are of fresh violet , cassis and wild strawberries. It should be used sparingly in drinks so that its delicacy can add a lovely nuance to your drinks rather than over power it, a splash with your favorite bubbly makes a fine starter to any party.

 Pierre Ferrand dry Curacao

I would recommend searching this baby out, its a gorgeous addition to any cocktail that calls for orange liqueur.

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