This favorite of mine recently popped up in conversation with a pal-of-mine (about orange things, funny enough), and it reminded me just how much I like it. Like it? I love it! It’s a wonderfully-balanced mix – if I can say so without sounding too full-of-myself, since I created it – with some ingredients that you don’t naturally think would go together in dark rum and Campari. But thanks to the edge-smoothing triple sec (I’d say go with homemade, if you can – there’s a recipe in Luscious Liqueurs) and the peacemaker, Perychaud’s bitters, everything plays nice. It’s always tasty fun to re-discover an old liquid friend. And this is one of my besties.
Admittedly, I’m usually (as anyone who knows me knows, or, even if you don’t actually know me in an in-person way, if you read this blog you probably know) a staunch soapboxer about drinks-that-borrow-names-from-other-drinks. Meaning, I think a drink name should be as creative as a drink, and that even a small ingredient change needs a new name. So, inis, ritas, olitans, all those, make me sad, as does the recent proliferation of Negroni names. Jaysus, bartenders, be creative!
However, this Dry Negroni is pretty darn swell, and so I can step off my soapbox while I’m sipping. For some reason I’d never even thought to try the subbing of dry for sweet vermouth, cause I am silly. And, I picked up the recipe and idea from rollicking Rob Chirico’s new book, Not My Mother’s Kitchen: Rediscovering Italian-American Cooking Through Stories and Recipes! Rob has a host of good books you should pick up, and his latest is both funny and tasty. It up-ends the hoary tradition of so many cookbooks, where the cook/writer has learned the craft at the side of some family elder, because it turns out Rob’s mother was a terrible cook, and he had to learn in spite of it. It’ll have you laughing and have you making delish dishes all at once, thanks to the combination of funny stories and helpful recipes, the whole of which is written in a wonderful convivial style. There’s even a short chapter on Italian libations, and that’s where I picked up this recipe.
Before you say anything – I know I’ve featured this drink-named-after-an-Olympic-fencer on the Spiked Punch blog before! I know it, and that’s okay, me thinks, because it’s such a fine drink that naturally it would be What I’m Drinking more than once. Also, a reader and drinker named sassy Scott has been hankering after more Campari drinks (even if he hasn’t directly requested it, he has talked about his love of Campari drinks, and from that I surmised he probably needs some other options). So, with all that said, here we are, the Lucien Gaudin. En garde!
Friends, the weather is heating up. The ol’ Mercury is rising. The sunshine is taking over its annual spot as the meteorological top dog. The sweat is starting to tickle you just behind the ear (well, maybe it’s not that steamy yet, but you get the idea). And when that starts happening, I know one thing for sure. It’s Americano time!
Since 1860, when Gaspare Campari served it at his bar, calling it the Milano-Torino in honor of Campari (his bitter red liqueur from Milan) and Cinzano vermouth (from Turin), this has been a hot-weather hit. The name was changed thanks to the large number of visiting Americans (especially soldiers, at the time) who fell in the love with the drink. Being an American that visits Italy yearly, I love that story – as well as the drink.
Hello late August! You might think in late August, where, for let’s say at least 85.4% of the readers of this blog, it’s pretty hot, that I wouldn’t dare suggest making a drink that means “thought.” But I will dare (as the song says), cause really, you don’t have to think too much about this drink when making it, and because it is rather refreshing and, if I may dare say, yummy. Just be sure your Brachetto d’Acqui (the slightly sweet Italian frizzante wine) is well chilled, or drop an ice cube into the glass. It is August, after all.
Sometimes, in summer, it’s too hot for me to even write up a new, clever, headnote (anyone who shakes their head at “clever” please leave the room). And sometimes, I read another headnote from a book and just think, well, that says it all, really. This is one of those times.
In his famous eighteenth sonnet, when he lays down the immortal line “and summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” Shakespeare perhaps wasn’t exactly referring to a coquetry that happened in those hotter months between him and a fair lady, an ardent connection that slid smoothly past light flirtation into something a trace more serious, a Mercury-rising affaire d’amour that—for at least as long as those months lasted—seemed more important than the sun. As these adoring concerns are, sadly, like this drink, over much too soon, his line does hit the romantic nail on the head, though—showing again why Will S. was the master.
Summer Dream, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 (because of reasons mentioned above)
1. Add the orange and peach slices to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Campari, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake really well, if a little wistfully, for at least 15 seconds.
3. Strain the dream through a fine strainer equally into two cocktail glasses.
A Variation: Want a more cluttered drink? After step 2, instead of straining into cocktail glasses, pour the whole shebang, ice and fruit and every sad last word, into two large goblets. Rename it the Disordered Dream.
I love this bubbly-and-bitter-belle-of-the-ball. First, it’s a variation on the Negroni (which is, of course, a fav) that subs in Prosecco for gin. Second, I originally had it and heard about it when staying in Florence at a spot called the Hotel Casci (not far from the Duomo, don’t you know), and pal Jeremy was there as well (we were drinking and playing Quiddler after a day of touristing). Third, it means “wrong” due to its Negroni-less-ness, if that makes sense, and I think having a drink called “wrong” is genius. Fourth, well, it tastes great–can’t go wrong with Campari, sweet vermouth, and Prosecco. Fifth, it (like La Rana D’Oro below) was a featured drink at a recent charity event that I slung drinks at (for my ma, if you didn’t know). Sixth, it’s also featured in my book Champagne Cocktails (which, if you don’t have, please buy, cause I need to be able to buy more sparkling wine). And seventh, well, seventh just adds up all the earlier six reasons to expand my love of this drink to epic–epic–proportions.
3 ounces sweet vermouth
3 ounces Campari
2 orange twists, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vermouth and Campari. Shake well.
2. Strain the mixture equally into two flute glasses. Top with Prosecco and garnish with the orange twists.
A Variation: You could use the Italian sparkling wine Moscato d’Asti or Asti Spumante here and be happy about it.
A Second Note: I could see the rationale behind serving this in a cocktail glass in the Negroni’s honor. I could also see the rationale behind calling this a sparkling Americano. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to do either of them.
Here we are (after a little delay due to French, Italian, and Russian TV censor problems) with Episode Two of the new season of the Good Spirit Cocktail to Cocktail Hour, hosted by me. In this episode, I take over the mixing duties (and the “wearing-painful-garlands” duties) and show how to make an Eden Cocktail. The Eden is a sparkling wine drink, with rum, Campari, fruit juices, and bubbly. It’s ideal for the holiday season, so let’s call this the C2C holiday special! Oh, there’s swearing in here (it is the holidays), but it’s bleeped out. So, play the video for the kiddies as the Yule log burns and as you load up on holiday puddings. And a ho, ho, ho to you, too.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More