September 1, 2017
I recently was lucky enough to have a day where I could make the claim to luckiest person around (admittedly, I haven’t checked with every single person worldwide to test this particular proclamation, but hey, I still believe). On that day I was able to share the stage with my pal, genius novelist Andrew Sean Greer, and talk to him about his latest book LESS, while making him a few cocktails. LESS, if you don’t know, is the book of 2017, gaining raves from near and far – with people like Christopher Buckley saying in the NY Times, “Andrew Sean Greer’s Less is excellent company. It’s no less than bedazzling, bewitching and be-wonderful.” And they’re all well-deserved, because the book is charming, creative, funny, touching, and detailed in locations around the world with so much pizzazz that it’s a wonder Andy isn’t being hired by every city to write about their city. If that makes sense! Buy it now! Anyway, I’m rambling, as one does about great books, but to get back to the booze, for said lucky-day-for-A.J. I made up two drinks for Andy and I to sip while talking, naming both after characters in LESS. This first is named after the Italian translator of Less’ (oh, Arthur Less is the main character in the book, a novelist) latest book, and in honor of her and the Italian section of the book, contains all Italian ingredients.
The Translation of Giuliana Monti
1-1/2 ounces Purus organic Italian vodka
1 ounce Donini Dono di Dio aged vin santo
3/4 ounce Campari
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full of cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. Drink while reading LESS.
A Note: Donini Dono di Dio aged vin santo (vin santo being the “holy wine” of Italy, a lush dessert wine) is made by the fine folks at Donini winery, one of the finest in the universe, located in Verna, Italy, in my favorite area of Italy. If you can’t get it, I feel it’s time for you to take a vacation. Or, sub in another vin santo.
March 10, 2017
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.
The Crimson Slippers, from Dark Spirits
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce triple sec
Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Lime slice for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Campari, triple sec, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
3. Squeeze the lime slice over the glass and drop it in without any mystery.
December 9, 2016
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.
Dry Negroni, from Not My Mother’s Kitchen
1 ounce gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce Campari
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, dry vermouth, and Campari. Stir well.
2. Fill a cold old-fashioned glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with the orange slice.
August 21, 2015
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!
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.
May 15, 2015
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.
The Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Chilled club soda
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir gently.
2. Add club soda to the glass until the glass is almost full. Garnish with an orange slice.
August 29, 2014
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.
The Pensiero, from Champagne Cocktails
1 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 ounces Punt e Mes
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled Brachetto d’Acqui
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the orange juice, Punt e Mes, Campari, and simple syrup. Shake thoughtfully.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a flute glass. Top with Brachetto d’Acqui. Garnish with the lemon twist.
August 22, 2014
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)
3 orange slices
2 peach slices
4 ounces bourbon
2 ounces Campari
1 ounce Simple Syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
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.
June 29, 2011
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.