Give me all your whiskey filled chocolates and don’t ask me to share. That’s love.
What time is it? It’s time for champagne! Champagne cocktails, with a splash of hot red, bitter love. Mix it up for two in a few racy glasses and top off the evening stuffing your face with whiskey filled chocolates. Not into chocolate? How about a glass that doesn’t leave condensation rings all over your coffee table? Now that is SEXY.
This post is brought to you by Campari. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Your Instagram feed might be turning from #millennialpink to a cheery garnet red next week as we embark on the FIFTH year of Negroni Week!
If you’re not familiar with this wonderful time of year, or have only heard of it in passing, let me loop you guys in. From June 5 through 11 this year, bars, restaurants and vendors from around the world celebrate the Negroni cocktail – an iconic mix of Campari, gin, and sweet red vermouth – to raise money and awareness for great causes. What started as just 100 bars in the US, has now grown into an International event and this year will be bigger than ever.
I’m also talking about the Negroni cocktail today because next week is Negroni Week! It’s not just an excuse to drink this cocktail, but there’s also a great cause behind it. You can read all about that right here.
Last year I switched out the gin with mezcal, but this year we’re keeping the gin but adding in some extra flavor goodness. Like coconut. And coffee.
St. George Spirits put out this NOLA Coffee Liqueur a little while ago and I’ve been obsessed with getting a bottle. I could drink this stuff straight, but today I’m using the liqueur in lieu of sweet vermouth in the first Negroni variation. This Negroni combines that bittersweet, robust coffee liqueur with toasted coconut infused gin and a touch of Campari (and don’t worry, if you feel you haven’t the time for another cocktail project I’ve got a pretty simple variation below too). It’s more of an after-dinner drink, or actually, a pretty amazing weekend brunch cocktail (or breakfast cocktail if you prefer).
Coconut Coffee Negroni
Toasted Coconut Gin
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup Martin Miller’s Gin
Set your oven to 350°F. On a cookie sheet, spread out the coconut flakes in an even layer. Place in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool and move to an airtight container (I used a wide mouth canning jar). Cover with the gin, seal, and let sit out overnight. The next day strain through a coffee filter into a new, clean airtight container (I often use old liquor bottles).
1 ounce coconut infused gin
1 ounce St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur
3/4 ounce Campari
In a double rocks glass with a large ice cube, pour in coconut infused gin, coffee liqueur, and Campari. Stir 15 seconds to chill and serve.
Now, for those of you who’d like something with a little fewer steps, I give you this Negroni variation. Basically I ran out of most of the ingredients one might need to make one and ended up with this. It’s still got a nice bite and the Zucca does the double duty of being both semi-sweet and bitter with a little more orange-y bitterness from the orange bitters.
The Moorish Dance
1-3/4 ounce gin, Ford’s used here
1-3/4 ounce Zucca
2 dashes orange bitters, Regan’s No.6 used here
orange peel for garnish
In a double rocks glass with a large ice cube, pour in the gin and Zucca. Add the dashes of bitters, stir 15 seconds to chill and express the oils from the orange peel over the drink. Add the zest for garnish.
Now, please stay with me on this. First, shake off your assumptions that suddenly the lofty Negroni has gone the way of the 7/11 slurpee machine: believe me, this is nothing like that. Gone are the teeth-tinglingly sweet frozen drinks you’re used to downing in the summer. The wasted calories of footlong, electric blue “adult” slushies that have about a thimble of alcohol in them and more corn syrup than anything else. These frozen versions of the Negroni take the actual, delicious drink, and whiz it up with ice for all of the bittersweet flavor, only now you sip it through a straw.
Oh, and when I say versions, I mean you get TWO variations for this frozen cocktail: classic and a fruit-forward twist on a white negroni: watermelon. The watermelon version is inspired by a drink I just had at a friend’s wedding which was, essentially, a White Negroni whose vermouth had been infused with watermelon. The idea was playful and it was delicious and I knew I needed to make something like that for the site. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a bit more whimsy in my cocktails, I still enjoy the classics, but when you’re recipe developing all the time, your brain wants to go in warped places. At least mine does.
Anyways, the idea was great, but I wanted some flexibility with the recipe. And since I wanted something a bit more versatile that I could use in multiple drinks, I infused the gin instead. It’s a short infusion, just two days, and you could always start tasting after day 1 if you don’t want a super-watermelon-y flavor and strain when you think it’s ready. Hint: if you want something over ice, instead of something made of ice, try the watermelon gin with some tonic; the sweet and bitter work well together.
OK! So let’s stop taking ourselves SO seriously, at least for today, and enjoy some frozen cocktails.
4-1/2 ounces gin, such as G’Vine or Fords
2-1/2 ounces Campari
2-1/2 ounces Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Orange slices, for garnish
Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an airtight container. Place in freezer and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, add chilled alcohol and ice to blender. Blend on high speed until uniform and smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into rocks glasses or small wine glass. Garnish with an orange slice and serve immediately.
Frozen Watermelon White Negroni
1/2 cup cubed watermelon
1-1/2 cups gin, such as Broker’s or St. George Botanivore
4-1/2 ounces watermelon gin (see recipe below, line 1)
2-1/2 ounces Cocchi Americano
2-1/4 ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Watermelon and orange slices, for garnish
For the watermelon gin: In an airtight container, combine gin and watermelon. Keep in a cool, dark place for 48 hours. Strain into a clean, airtight container until ready to use. Will keep up to one year.
For the Watermelon White Negroni Slushie: Combine watermelon gin, Cocchi Americano, and vermouth in an airtight container and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, add frozen alcohol to a blender with ice. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Split between rocks glasses or small wine glasses. Garnish each glass with a watermelon.
First, drink these with an ounce of caution; they kinda go straight to your head if you sip them up quickly. Second, the chilling overnight is so your mixture does not dilute the ice too quickly while you blend (this step is optional). The classic Negroni tastes pretty much like what you’d get in its natural state. Even though the bitterness is still very present, with this icy state it’s lovely and the citrus notes are quite present. And not watered down tasting! The watermelon on the other hand is delicate with only a hint at the bitterness from the Cocchi Americano. While the fruity watermelon is present, it doesn’t overpower the drink as a whole – it’s a nice accent.
So choose one, or both, to make this weekend. I choose both.
While I also will be out and about that week seeing what Los Angeles bars have concocted, I’m also offering up a favorite variation here on the site that you can try all year round.
I’ve swapped out the gin with mezcal (because I can’t help myself), and the sweet vermouth with Amaro Nonino (I don’t need a reason other than to tell you I love this stuff). The Campari stays the same.
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, stir together the mezcal, amaro and Campari. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Express orange oils over the ice and plop the peel in the glass.
Bright, juicy citrus battles it out with the mezcal and licorice on the nose. The first sip is rich, smooth with a not subtle bitter hit from the Campari immediately with the earthiness of the mezcal right behind. Campari can really stand up to the aggressive nature of the smoke in a mezcal and I love pairing them here. The Amaro Nonino adds some spice and complexity, as well as a nice mouthfeel to the whole drink.
Do you have a favorite Negroni variation? Or do you prefer the old tried and true recipe? Also, don’t forget that Stir & Strain is running a GIVEAWAY (check it out and enter).
2 oz dark rum, such as Gosling’s Black Seal
2-1/2 oz Pineapple and Lime Infused Rum
1 oz Campari
4 oz chilled sparkling wine
For the Garnish:
Rum soaked pineapple chunk (reserved from infusion)
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add dark rum, infused rum, and Campari. Top with sparkling wine and stir gently if desired. Garnish with a skewered pineapple chunk, lime wedge, pineapple leaf, and Luxardo cherry.
This drink is bright and bubbly with a touch of bitterness. And in true Tiki fashion, it’s super strong. There’s a lot of rum in there, but what’s a decent Tiki creation without a giant heaping helping of booze?
Drink up folks, and let your mind wander to something warm and tropical.
Recently Raul over at the Death to Sour Mix blog gave us 3 drinks he enjoyed this summer. That reminded me I wanted to throw up a couple of drinks that have been in regular (heavy) rotation around this house lately.
First, my husband, Christopher, who no longer would like to be referred to by ‘husband’ here but by his own name (maybe should have thought twice before he put a ring on it) is not one to turn down a drink. He leafs through all the cocktail books I bring in (never telling me I’ve bought too many. Thank god.) and, in addition to being my test monkey, he very often makes up his own drinks or makes a recipe that appeals to him. Lately it’s been the Hanky Panky via the PDT cocktail book. But not just your run of the mill HP. For the Gin, he uses the very assertive Terroir from St. George Spirits. Quite possibly his favorite gin ever. For me, this completely changes the drink and it’s totally something else, in a good way. Like when you put an onion in a martini and get to call it a Gibson. Be warned, this is like a pine forest took up camp in your cup, which you will either love, or not. NO in-betweens here!
Hanky Panky in a Forrest
2 oz. St. George Spirits Terroir Gin
1-1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz. Fernet Branca
Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and strain into a chilled coupe.
For me, it’s all about this Negroni variation suggested by Michael Dietsch via his Serious Drinks article found here. I mean…dang! Smith and Cross was always a bit too powerful to the point I sometimes was unsure of what to do with it. But with Carpano and Campari it tames that wild beast of a rum into delectable smoothness. At first my only addition was adding a grapefruit peel garnish. I’m a bit sad to think about how many grapefruits I peeled to death and then forgot to eat the inside of. I need to learn to supreme citrus already! And then it happened, I ran out of Carpano. Playing my own game of swapping out the liquor I turned to Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and it worked in this drink’s favor. So much so I decided I’d even name this one.
1-1/2 oz. Smith and Cross Jamaican Rum
3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
grapefruit peel for garnish
In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add first three ingredients. Stir for 30 seconds and pour into a chilled double rocks glass. Cut a peel of grapefruit about 3 inches long. Express the oil over the drink, swab the inside of the glass with the oil and drop the peel into the glass.
Why a double rocks glass for that small amount of liquid? It’s all about getting that grapefruit aroma in there and up your nose. When I added that grapefruit peel the first time I tried this variation, bells went off; it was pretty darn perfect for me. And the rest of the drink? Velvet texture. The sharpness of the Smith and Cross is but by the syrupy Vermouth and bitter-sweetness of Campari. Powerful, and yet so easy to drink.
So what are you guys drinking at home? Is it your favorite classic cocktail? Or maybe it’s just a good beer. Let me know!
This month I’ve been playing around with ideas for Mixology Monday, the theme being SMOKE. This seemed like an interesting path to follow and see where it went. I am, in all honesty, still very much amateur status when it comes to all things behind the bar. I’ve definitely broadened my scope of these items over the past few years (like how to say Cynar correctly), but for awhile the idea of tinctures seemed mildly hazy to me. Aren’t these just infusions? Why a separate name?
Well, I read a bit for this post and pretty much what it came down to is that a tincture is the essence of the ingredient you steep in a neutral grain alcohol. It can be used in small amounts by itself, or added with more ingredients for compounds like bitters. Because it is steeped in a high proof alcohol, you don’t shoot it back in a giant gulp. It would also probably taste awful. With an infusion, you are also extracting the essence of what you are putting into the alcohol, but it is co-mingling with the base spirit for a new combined flavor. You might see sour cherry bourbon, lemon lavender gin, something along those lines.
When I think aroma, my mind naturally moves towards perfume. Now, before I lose all you men out there, check this article out from the New York Times last year. The Pegu Club, PDT, these big timers have been using aroma, perfume even, in cocktails for awhile now. Perhaps for us New Wave Cocktail Bloggers this is brand new, but treading into this territory we find the path already laid out for us. So, give perfume a try I guess.
For this particular use of smoke in a cocktail, I didn’t want the drink to continue to be steeped in smoke. What I wanted here was for the initial smell to be a deep, meaty smoke aroma, and then when tasted, you were only getting the cocktail. This beautiful smoky aroma would make the drink a surprise for the person drinking it, hopefully a pleasant shock. The aroma would then dissipate as one continued to finish the drink. I chose a Boulevardier to accompany the smoke aroma.
First, the tincture:
1/2 cup grain alcohol (I have 151 proof everclear)
1/4 cup Lapsang Souchong Loose Tea
Combine the two ingredients in an airtight glass container. Let sit for two weeks in a cool, dark place. Gently shaking every few days. After two weeks, strain with a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. You want to make sure you are getting all the tiny bits of tea out. If you still see residue, strain an additional time. Store in a dropper bottle.
Lapsang Souchong tea has a heavy smoke aroma. When you open the box it’s like getting hit with a face full of wood smoke. As a tincture, the essence gets meatier (as in smoked meat).
Ok, so, here is the part when you can decide whether getting an atomizer is worth it or not. I tried experimenting with the tincture in 3 ways. First, I rinsed the glass and added the cocktail. Second, I swapped a tincture soaked cotton ball around in inside of the glass after pouring the drink in. Third, I sprayed the tincture with an atomizer over the finished drink. Of the three I found the atomizer to have a stronger aroma over the final drink. Rinsing added too much of the smoke to the drink and was not the effect I wanted. The cotton ball didn’t create a strong enough smell for me. When I used the atomizer, I found I had more control over how much aroma went onto the finished cocktail and I appreciated being able to add more in small increments to achieve the final essence. So, if you are not one for unitaskers, then maybe an atomizer is not something you need taking up space in your bar drawer. I found a tiny atomizer that is under 3″, meant for perfume, but works great.
Next, the Boulevardier Cocktail with Smoke Aroma:
2 oz Bourbon (Black Ridge Small Batch was used for this cocktail)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
Orange peel garnish
In a mixing glass 2/3 with ice, stir the first three ingredients about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled rocks glass or goblet (you want some space for your nose to dip into; sounds gross but trust me). Garnish with an orange peel and over the top of the drink, spray about 3-4 sprays of the tincture.
As you move into the glass, there is the meaty smoke aroma followed by the sudden bittersweet richness of the Boulevardier. That first sip has the most smoke on it, while progressive sips become less and less potent, which lets you experience varying degrees of the aroma. If this is all a bit too much for you, have you had a Boulevardier cocktail yet? Go make one, it’s a great Fall cocktail.
Confession time. Or maybe rather, here’s some facts about me you didn’t know. One: I could have gone to college, full ride, on a Chemistry scholarship. Instead I chose art and am still paying off the TWO bachelor degrees that I am barely using right now. Two: I’m a giant nerd for the original Dark Shadows television program. I don’t go to the fan shows because I hate crowds, but I was overcome with sadness when Jonathan Frid, aka Barnabus Collins, passed away last year and I never got to geek out on him and tell him how much I enjoyed his melodramatic, line forgetting, over-the-top acting on the show. I am always going to regret that.
Why am I making you read that above paragraph? Because for this month’s Mixology Monday the Muse of Doom, writer of the blog Feu de Vie, decided that this month’s theme was FIRE. Immediately I started humming the chorus to Arthur Brown’s FIRE, and then while watching an episode of Dark Shadows decided that I wanted to name it after the lady always staring into the fire and being a badass, Angelique. I am, for the fourth time in my life, rewatching the series in its entirety, so, you know, it’s on the brain lately.
The name came first, as is sometimes the case. So taking that cue, I decided I wanted a drink both potent and spicy, and also with a touch of femininity. And that’s when I broke out the chemicals. I feel like nationally the molecular gastronomy movement has come, hit a crazy frenzy, and then gone back to the people who have really made it their shtick; José Andrés, Grant Achatz, Ferran Adrià, Wylie Dufresne. I have many of these chemicals available at hand from my day job and have been itching for a reason to use them. Recently I’ve been catching up on older episodes of the Dinner Party Download when the bartender at the SLS hotel (where José Andrés has his restaurant) was asked to make a Andy Warhol inspired cocktail. His cocktail, not surprisingly, had a ‘bubble bath’ that sat upon the top. This intrigued me since all I needed to perform this task was one chemical: Lecithin. Lecithin is an emulsifier, soy based (there is also egg based), that makes stable foam out of most liquids. You can read more on the chemical over here.
My thinking, after listening to the interview, was that I could create a fire-like mound upon on the drink using this chemical. Maybe add some extra oomph with edible red dust. And I did just that, sort of.
I’m not one to shy away from heat in my drink. I love it. Have you seen my Satan’s Breath or the Tres Palmas? If it makes me tear up, the better. I’m sure this sheds some kind of light onto my character, but this is a cocktail site, not a therapy session so we’ll leave that for my late-night marathon tweeting. I opted not to add heat in the form of peppers this time and instead made a spicy combo using a barrel-aged gin and ginger shrub. And topping it all off was a fiery cayenne laced Campari and Pineapple foam.
The lecithin was tricky. This was the first time using it and have learned a couple things I will try next time. One is that make sure you get the powdered form, the liquid does not work with juices/alcohol, it’s more for chocolates and food usage. Two is that you need a container with tall sides as using a hand blender will make this splatter all over the place if it’s a small sided vessel. You better believe my workspace is a sticky mess right now. I’ll clean it later.
2 oz. Barrel Aged Rusty Blade Gin
1 oz. Shrub & Co. Ginger Shrub
1/2 oz. Rose Water
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all of the above ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled champagne saucer.
For the Bubbles:
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
2 oz. Campari
1/2 tsp cayenne (1/4 tsp if you’re not wanting too much fire)
1/2 tsp Lecithin
Edible red glitter for garnish
Combine ingredients in a flat bottomed container with tall sides. Gently stir to dissolve lecithin. Using a hand blender, whip contents until a foam begins. You will have to do several batches depending on the surface area of your container. Gently spoon foam on top of drink. Garnish with fiery red edible glitter.
Fire is up there when describing this cocktail. I may not have been able to create the fiery mound for the drink but that cayenne laced foam added a secondary punch after the first hit of the ginger shrub creating dynamic layers. Sweet, sharp and spicy all sing out beautifully here. Shrub & Co’s Ginger shrub and the Rusty Blade gin give the drink a lot of spice and heat, while the sweetness of the foam is just enough to balance out the tart notes. The rose water has a subtle layer of floral sweetness that is there in the background. Careful, the fire of the cayenne builds as you drink, settling down also at the bottom of the glass, making that last gulp a mouth of fire.
I’m happy I took a little break, I feel like I cleared out the cobwebs and have some great ideas I want to work with. You should do that too. Go take a mental break.
Admittedly the name came WAY before the drink. I have an Evernote notebook filled with just names of drinks I should make some day because at the time I thought they were clever. I clear it out frequently. Cause a lot of the times I’m drinking coming up with these and you know, it’s not the same the next day. Why would you name your drink the Canine Chasm? What the hell does that even mean?
This cocktail started as a variation on the Jungle Bird, but then flew off in another direction. Campari, with its bitter citrus flavor seemed a good candidate to start mixing with Mezcal. It is, FYI.
The only issue I ran into here was trying to photograph a flame; a liquor flame. It’s blue and in daylight fades, and at night, you can see it but not the drink. Frustrating, but after some tips from a bartender the other night, I will have to go at it again with some minor adjustments to my camera (I’ve unlearned a lot of my photo skills from college apparently). For this post you’ll have to just accept the shaky garnish and Oh and AH at the only picture to come out IN focus WITH a flame in it. But really, the drink will more than make up for any displeasure the image causes you.
If you are interested in creating a drink there are several techniques for creating a flame that lasts a bit while you imbibe. One method is to use a toasted cube of bread doused in 151 rum, another is to soak a sugar cube in the same 151. I chose the later; it smells good. Also, if you want to really create a WOW effect, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, it will crackle and pop a bit. And also smell good.
1-1/2 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
3/4 oz. Campari
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
For garnish: pineapple wheel, spent lime shell (with pulp removed), sugar cube, 151 rum
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake well to combine and pour, strained, into a chilled coupe. Garnish with pineapple wheel with flaming sugar cube on top (either way above will work). Try not to burn eyebrows.
This cocktail blends in a very interesting way flavors you associate with tropical, but with a more savory base from the Mezcal. Very dry, slightly sweet with an added molasses depth that I’m finding hard to explain HOW AWESOME IT TASTES. Fruit flavors are subtle with a balance of smoke from the Mezcal.
In the first variation of this, I left out the Cruzan Black Strap rum and the drink definitely had a much stronger punch of smoke. However, when it was added to the cocktail, it balanced everything out in a way I wasn’t prepared for since I was expecting more sweet.