June 29, 2018
This should be your go-to this summer (or one of them, at least), as it’ll transport you all over Europe without you having to leave the yard, while at the same time serving as a cool cooler, just as you want when the temps are tempting the higher digits. It was created by an old pal and bartending legend, Jeremy Sidener (who owns the Eighth Street Taproom in Lawrence, KS), who was genius enough to bring together the herbally Italian amaro Averna (which is about in the middle of the bitter scale when looking over the amaro family) and French herb-y Bénédictine, along with cherry brandy, lemon juice, and soda. I myself said in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz that “the result will break any hold a dusty, hot summer’s day has on you.”
The Sicilian Sling
1-1/2 ounces Averna
1/2 ounce cherry brandy
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chilled club soda
1 or 2 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Averna, cherry brandy, Bénédictine, and lemon juice. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture into the glass. Top with chilled club soda, filling it almost to the top. Gently smack the basil leaf or leaves and let them rest on the drink’s top.
April 24, 2018
An intriguing read by an author I don’t know, an Italian author, this book’s title was too good to pass up, plus the fact that it takes place in Sicily (where the author, Leonardo Sciascia is from), and that it says on the back “in the very first rank of Italian writers,” and so, well, I had to give it a good look. It falls into the crime genre, which combined with everything else also brought me in. It’s well worth reading, too, though if you only read very straightforward crime novels, it might take you down a slightly different path – which isn’t a bad thing, me thinks. Don’t get me wrong, there is crime, a worthy police Captain, serious pacing, and the Mafia. But there’s also a lovely beauty to the prose that feels different, a way of capturing and condemning the social scene in this place and time, and a more literary lean, if any of that makes sense. Check it out if you can find it for all of the above, and for the below quote (which I think is slightly off-translation actually, but still perhaps the only Averna quote in a crime book that I’ve seen):
Pizzuco, who had invited him to a bitter vermouth at the Cafe Gulino, as so often in the past, was astounded at Parrinieddu’s refusal and abrupt flight; though not particularly bright, he wondered about it for the rest of the day. Parrinieddu, for his part, was so rattled that he spent the day attributing sinister meanings to that offer of a bitter vermouth, bitter betrayal, bitter death, over-looking the well-known fact that Pizzuco suffered from what the doctors call cirrhosis due to his fondness for Averna’s bitter vermouth – a beverage which made him proclaim his faith as a Separatist and ex-soldier of the Volunteer Army for Sicilian Independence.
–Leonardo Sciascia, The Day of the Owl
November 28, 2014
Way, way back when, (in the double digits AD), Pliny the Elder wrote the Naturalis Historia, and in that wrote about peppermint, and how it was not only used in sauces and drinks, but only in sweet-scented sprays and worn about the head. I like that! I wanna wear peppermint like a hat. Can I do that? Anyway, with all that connection between good ol’ Pliny and peppermint, I don’t believe anyone has every named a peppermint-y drink for Pliny. Please correct me if I’m wrong here, and you have, actually, come up with said drink. Hopefully this is different than yours if that’s the case. I used peppermint tea for my peppermint-y-ness, and to go along with all the Ps, I used Plantation’s Original Dark rum. No, no, I used this rum from Trinidad & Tobago because its hints of smoke, citrus, banana, and spice mingle smoothly with the tea. And then I used Averna amaro for no other reason than I thought it would taste good. Guess what? I was right! This is a swell drink for the winter months – keep warm out there.
Pliny’s Hand Warmer
1-1/2 ounce Plantation Original Dark rum
1 ounce Averna amaro
5 ounces hot peppermint tea
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Add the rum and the Averna to a mug that’s been warmed with hot water. Stir briefly.
2. Add the tea, stir again, and warm up. Garnish with the orange twist.
A Note: If you feel this needs an extra garnish, and have fresh peppermint available, well, you know what to do.
September 12, 2014
Let me start with an apology: you cannot get one of the main ingredients in this drink in the US. My bad, yo. The ingredient is the Italian amaro called Viparo, and I can’t believe with the many, many amaros now being imported that someone hasn’t brought it in, because it’s a delicious member of the amaro clan, one produced by the Morganti family since 1913, and like most, originally designed for medicinal purposes. So, pick up a bottle when you’re in Italy. Until then, you could, if you want, sub in another amaro, one that shades towards the sweetish middle of the amaro scale, something like Averna. It won’t have the same exact highwayman feel, but it’ll be close. Call it the Highwayman’s Bank Holiday.
1-1/2 ounce gin
1 ounce freshly squeezed clementine juice
1/2 ounce Viparo
1/2 ounce Aperol
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, juice, Viparo, and Aperol. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
A Note: Can’t find clementines? You could sub in orange juice instead. Call it Highwayman’s Parole.
A Second Note: You might want to strain this through a fine strainer to avoid citrus bits in teeth. But no real robber would care about that much.
July 11, 2014
When I began to write this post, I was looking at a calendar for June. And so I thought today was going to be Friday, July 13th. When it’s actually Friday, July 11th. I’d planned to warn you, friends, to not walk under a ladder today, cuddle a black cat, or forget to toss a whole handful of salt over your shoulder. And tell you to instead have one of these drinks, too, as it’s a very lucky drink. Now, it’s not Friday the 13th. But I still think you should have one of these, because everyone needs a bit of luck every day. And, as I said, this is a lucky drink.
Why, you might ask? Well, first it has apples in it, and apples are the luckiest form of produce. You might think clover, but that’s a myth. It’s apples that are healthy, patriotic, and crunchy – all lucky things. And, also lucky, in this drink I’m using Tree Top fresh pressed apple juice. See, Tree Top is a company from up here in Washington State, in Selah to be specific, that has been here for 50 years supporting the state’s fruit growers – over 1,000 apple and pear growers to be specific, and all their juices are made from 100% USA-grown fruit. That is lucky on all sides.
Also, this drink features 3 Howls single malt whiskey. If you didn’t know, 3 Howls is a distillery in Seattle itself, and they’ve managed to put out 12 different spirits in just one year! Including this whiskey, whose caramel and vanilla hints go smoothly here, is also lucky. And if that wasn’t enough, the third core ingredient is Averna, a nice amaro that brings just the right amount of herbalness.
And this drink is of the super-refreshing variety and, as it’s summer, the mercury has risen for most and us, and a super-refreshing drink is needed. So, this Friday, the 11th, is a great day for this lucky drink.
The Lucky Apple
1-1/2 ounces 3 Howls single malt whiskey
3/4 ounce Averna
4 ounces Tree Top Fresh Pressed 3 Blend apple cider
Mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Add the whiskey and Averna. Stir a bit.
2. Top the glass off with the apple cider. Stir a bit more. Garnish with the mint. Feel lucky.