December 9, 2016

What I’m Drinking: A Dry Negroni from Not My Mother’s Kitchen

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
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.

October 7, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Last Gasp of Summer

It’s only fitting to have legendary Italian favorite Campari as a core ingredient in a drink that’s all about love for those days, sometimes in September, sometimes in October, which bring a more summery-ness to fall – extra sun, an extra digit or two on the temperature, or just that feeling summer has. Why Campari? Well, Campari, if you didn’t know, is all about love. Created in the 1800s in Italy by Gaspare Campari, at first Campari was only available throughout Italy, where it became very popular. Then, Gaspare’s son Davide was born, grew up, grew to love the liqueur named after his family, and starting working at their café, the Café Campari in Milan, where he spread the legend of the liqueur. One day, when the stars where shining through the bottles filled with red in the shop, Lina Cavalieri walked through the doors. Lina was a popular opera singer, and she and Davide got along smashingly, and they started to become more than friends, if you know what I mean. Then Lina had to move to Nice, France, for an opera part. Davide was crushed, but had a light bulb moment – why not begin exporting Campari, starting with Nice? Then he would be able to bring the liqueur to those in need around the world, and also be near his lady love. That, friends, is a summer-y story, and this is a summer-y drink that’s ideal for fall (or anytime, really).

last-gasp-summer
The Last Gasp of Summer

4 strawberries
3/4 ounces simple syrup
Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces Campari
3 ounces chilled Prosecco (I went with Zonin Prosecco White edition here, cause of its floral fruitiness, which matches everything swell here)

1. Add 3 of your strawberries and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well, but carefully.

2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Campari. Shake well.

3. Strain through a fine strainer into an enchantingly summerlike goblet. Top with the Prosecco. Garnish with that last strawberry (put a little slice into it, so it fits cozily on the rim).

April 15, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Negroni

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.

negroni

The Negroni

Cracked ice
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Ice cubes
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

What I’m Drinking: Lucien Gaudin

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!

lucien-gaudin
Lucien Gaudin

Cracked ice
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

What I’m Drinking: The Garibaldi

garibaldiIt 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).

The Garibaldi

Ice cubes
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

What I’m Drinking: The Americano

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.

americano
The Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

Ice cubes
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

What I’m Drinking: The Pensiero

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.

pensiero

The Pensiero, from Champagne Cocktails

Ice cubes
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

What I’m Drinking: Summer Dream

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

Summer Dream, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 (because of reasons mentioned above)

3 orange slices
2 peach slices
Ice cubes
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.

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