April 15, 2016
Some days, some nights, some mornings even, you just want a good drink, like you want to see an old friend, to just talk happily with, without getting all serious and pompous and braggy and posturing and . . . oh, all that stuff that old friends don’t usually do, but so many people do, sadly. The Negroni, now, of course is a superstar, with many variations that are boringly named (really – people, we don’t call the Negroni a Gin-icano, or a Gin Americano, etc, etc), and people all over-board and over-boorish about it. But to me it’s still comfortable like an old friend, and some days, like today, I just feel like sipping one, without all the accompanying sass.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Orange slice, or twist – go crazy
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the three amici. Stir well.
2. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the glass. Garnish away. Enjoy, yo.
PS: Some people serve a Negroni up. I wouldn’t turn that down. However, I often want it over ice, the way you’ll get it in the Italian countryside.
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.
June 5, 2015
It was just 3 days and 133 years ago when Giuseppe Garibaldi passed away, after being one of the most formative figures in Italian history, as the general who was largely responsible for unifying one of my two favorite countries. His army, if you didn’t know, was often referred to as the “red shirt” army, thanks to reasons you can guess from the name! And, if all that wasn’t enough, he has a dandy drink named after him, The Garibaldi, which you should be drinking this week in his honor — and also because it’s a citrus-y, tangy number, with a slightly beautiful bitter hint, thanks to Campari (another fine Italian figure).
2 ounces Campari
5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Fill a highball glass three quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and the orange juice.
2. Stir well.
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.
May 23, 2014
I recently brought this back into the rotation – and couldn’t be smile-ier about it. I like it so much, I’m gonna quote myself:
I choose to believe there’s a hidden mystery by Dame Agatha (Christie, that is) called The Crimson Slippers, where mercurial and Belgian (not French) detective Hercule Poirot must solve the multiple murders (seems there’s almost always more than one) circling around two single clues: a pair of comfy slippers with a tiny bloodstain on the toe, and a cocktail glass containing the remains of a bitter-ish combination aglow with a deep red hue. Naturally, if there isn’t a yet-to-be-discovered Agatha manuscript with this title out there—perhaps in a trunk in the back corner of the attic in an English country house—then I guess you’re going to have to write that mystery. Once it’s an international publishing phenom, though, I’ll expect you to buy the next round.
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 (being sure not to spill on any manuscripts lying around).
3. Squeeze the lime slice over the glass and drop it in without any mystery.
November 13, 2012
It’s weird, but I don’t think I’ve had a Cocktail Talk post featuring a quote or quotes from a Donald E. Westlake book. Or, I just can’t track one down. Or maybe it’s not so weird — I haven’t read a ton of Westlake, but it feels like I’ve enjoyed enough books here and there. And now I’m meandering. Bank Shot is a caper book, one of like 100 books by Westlake (oh, he also wrote the screenplay for The Grifters, which is rad), and probably the only book where the not-always-so-smooth criminals rob a bank by actually stealing the whole bank building. It also was the basis for a movie. They also do a lot of their planning in the back of a bar, which is if not the safest at least the most congenial spot I can think of to plan a robbery. And you can have a drink while planning. They drink a fair amount in Bank Shot, too, and now I have drawn everything full circle, which means it’s time for the quotes:
Victor said, “I’m drinking tonight.” He sounded very pleased. Dortmunder ducked his head a little more and looked at Victor under his fingers. He was smiling, of course, and holding up a tall glass. It was pink. Dortmunder said, “Oh, yeah?” “A slow-gin fizz,” Victor said.
He had planned his menu with the greatest of care. The cocktails to begin had been Negronis, the power of the gin obscured by the gentleness of vermouth and Campari.
—Bank Shot, Donald E. Westlake