The Count

by on Sep.14, 2012, under Food

In the light of the Campari Group’s latest acquisition, I felt yet another Campari based drink was important this Friday. Early this month, the 150 year old Campari Group purchased the controlling stake (81.4%, for $415m) in Lascelles deMercado, who crafts Appleton, White, Wray & Nephew, Coruba and other wonderful elixirs. Over the last decade, Campari has been elbowing its way through the drink world to take more presence and assert its due position. The Campari Group (Gruppo Campari) includes, but not limited to, such classic & modern populars as Aperol, Cizano, Cynar, Frangelico, Wild Turkey, Skyy, and Ouzo 12.

count negroni The Count

Cheers to that, I say!

The Count:
30ml rye whiskey (Templeton)
30ml Lillet Rouge
30ml Campari
Splash of soda
Garnish: Luxardo cherry and orange twist

the count The Count

You’ll note this drink is very similar to a very fine dark chocolate. Hints of bittersweet cocoa, savory herb and citrus dance across your palate. Drink up!

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I Get on Kicks – The Americano & Negroni

by on Sep.07, 2012, under Food, History

Apéritif or not, the Negroni holds a special place in my bar-book. Recently I visited a regular haunt of mine with only minutes to spare before dinner across the way. Lacking my favorite before-dinner (and after-dinner) ingredient, I opted for a classic – The Negroni. Both bartender and manager knew not of the drink I spoke, so proper instruction was necessary. Questions then ensued of where I resided. To their demise: their very town being both my birthplace and place of residency. Modernly accepted as a variation of the Americano, the Negroni is a stiffer, potentially more bitter, version of the Milano-Torino (AKA, these days, Americano). Milano, where Campari is made, and Torino, the homeland of vermouth and Apéritif drinks itself: a marriage of the two, with a name so literal, yet vague, you question a drink’s name like gin & tonic.

americano 1 I Get on Kicks   The Americano & Negroni

30ml (1oz) Campari
30ml (1oz) vermouth
Top with soda
Lemon twist

Gaspare Campari served said drink in his bar, Caffe Campari, in the mid-1800s. The name “Americano” isn’t believed to come around until early in the 20th century, when the drink was renamed because of a burst in popularity. The Americano, or Milano-Torino, holds deep history with Mr. Campari though. At the young age of fourteen, Campari was already tending bar in Italy, and tinkering with tintures, elixirs, and herbs. Through his experiments came a drinkable bitter spirit, which he sold in his travels, and named after himself. The Americano remains one of his many creations, using his namesake mixer, Campari.

Fast forward: The ever popular Milano-Torino is requested to be made stiffer by one Count Negroni (little information remains of this good gentleman). Barkeep Fosco Scarcelli, tending bar in Florence, swaps out the soda water for gin, and adds an orange twist instead of a lemon twist. Voila! Enter: Negroni.

bar hop negroni I Get on Kicks   The Americano & Negroni

30ml (1oz) Campari
30ml (1oz) Italian (sweet) vermouth
Splash of gin
Orange twist

Which brings me to one of my favorite drinks – a flavorful, modern twist on the Americano, the Americano Rouge. You will be hard pressed to find written cocktails for Lillet Rouge, which is astonishing to me, because it is incredibly complex, delicious, and universal. Here’s one to enjoy before, during, or after dinner.

30ml (1oz) Campari
30ml (1oz) Lillet Rouge
Top with soda
Grapefruit twist

americano 2 I Get on Kicks   The Americano & Negroni

Cheers to you!

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Happy Hour You Say?

by on Aug.31, 2012, under Food

Labor Day is a lot like Memorial Day, Family Day, or Father’s Day. We celebrate…anything to keep us from working – laborious! That said, kick back a stiff one this Friday’s happy hour to start off your break away (or lack thereof) from work!

laborday Happy Hour You Say?
The first American labor day took place in 1882 – New York on said day

While it’s hard to compare any drink to a classic of the likes of the classic Manhattan, this drink is sure to please. Take the complexity, leave the sour, add some tart: you have The Cleaver.

cleaver1 Happy Hour You Say?

2oz (60ml) Rye – Templeton is choice
.5oz (15ml) hibiscus cordial*
.5oz (15ml) dry vermouth
dash of lime juice
3 dashes cherry bitters – Peychaud** work in a pinch

Add ingredients to a beaker, stir until chilled, strain into coupe & garnish with a Luxardo cherry. Savor your mixing ability.

cleaver1 Happy Hour You Say?

* – Hibiscus cordial can be substituted for Fruitlab’s Hibiscus Liq, or the ever delicious Hum. If you prefer to make a homemade version, as I do, try something simple like this recipe.

hum Happy Hour You Say?

Hibiscus syrup:
1/8oz dried hibiscus (available both online and in many ethnic groceries)
3/4c white sugar
3/4c filtered water
Steep ingredients in a mason jar for 24-48 hours. Strain, and keep chilled. Feel free to play with extra flavors. My hibiscus cordial involves many more additions, but this syrup is a simple way to spice up your bar and kitchen.

** – Peychaud bitters do change the profile of the drink, but adds a nice complexity of anise and mixed spices, while holding onto a tad of cherry flavor.
peychaud Happy Hour You Say?

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Happy Hour – The Perfect “Pimms”

by on Aug.27, 2012, under Food, Life

I’ve been doing quite some traveling of late, so my periodic installments have been delayed here and there. This is a great one though, about homemade Fruit Cup (AKA: Pimm’s).

label Happy Hour   The Perfect Pimms

The idyllic days of summer are characterized by an excess of revitalizing and bracing cocktails; among them mint juleps, mojitos, and Pimm’s cups. Pimm’s, known as a ‘Fruit Cup’, dates back to the early 1800’s, and was originally served as a digestif. Made of gin, herbs, spices, and fruit, the liqueur is prepared in many fashions, traditionally mixed with sparkling lemonade or ginger ale, and garnished with any preferred fruit(s). Throughout its long life, Pimm’s has been available with many differing alcohol bases, most of which have been phased out. Only the gin-based Pimm’s #1 is readily attainable (the vodka-based #6, while still produced, is quite rare), and vintage bottles fetch steep prices. A Pimm’s cup remains the standard cocktail at polo matches in both Britain and America, Wimbledon, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and the Henley Royal Regatta. While its vast popularity tends to be across the Atlantic, recent popular culture has perked interest in this unique beverage.

The popular trend these days is fresh, interesting twists, and quality. Why limit that to the ingredients in our food and drinks? A homemade Fruit Cup is a simple, fun, and delicious way to spice up your summer endeavors. While I love a standard Pimm’s, a homemade batch has a less synthetic taste, with more spice and citrus floating over your palate. Stick with a gin (#1) base, and you have a spicy, botanical Fruit Cup. Prefer tequila (#7), rye (#5), or another liquor? Go for it. The sky is literally the limit. Absinthe, differing types of whiskeys, and other high proof alcohols have recently been made into Fruit Cup drinks. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to making a delicious, home-brewed cocktail – and feel free to play with the recipe to introduce hints of flavors you love, such as different fruits, or spices. It has been suggested that for the first few decades, James Pimm used whatever fruits were in season and available at his oyster bar.

pimmsbar Happy Hour   The Perfect Pimms

– Cheesecloth (you can find this at most larger groceries or a restaurant supply)
– Large sealable container or jar (4 liter or 1 gallon size preferred)
– Potato masher or cocktail muddler

– 750ml dry gin
– 750ml sweet vermouth
– 3 oranges, quartered
– 1 lemon, quartered
– 1 key lime, quartered
– 1/3 lb ginger, grated
– 3/4 cucumber, sliced
– Handful of fresh mint
– Handful of fresh basil
– 1 cup fresh berries – raspberry, strawberry, cherry, etc
– 2 small sticks of cinnamon

*Optional additions* — These ingredients will make for a different flavor profile that mixes great with lemonade, ginger ale, and cucumber soda, but won’t work quite as well as a traditional fruit-cup recipe — for champagne based drinks.
– 6 whole cardamom pods
– 1 star anise
– 6 whole all spice berries

pimm1 Happy Hour   The Perfect Pimms

pimm2 Happy Hour   The Perfect Pimms

Add your fresh fruit & herbs to a mixing bowl and muddle with a potato masher or cocktail muddler; this helps release some of the fresh fruit juices, oils, and flavors. Transfer the mash to your large container (a food grade 5 gallon bucket with lid works in a pinch). Add your dried spices, your liquor base, and your vermouth. Store in a cool place for 48-72 hours, and shake once daily. Remember: there is no right or wrong method here. If you absolutely love cherries, feel free to experiment (or go overboard!). Filter your Fruit Cup through cheesecloth – make sure to squeeze the cloth to extract the juices, flavors, and goodies. Homemade Fruit Cup keeps for a year at room temperature when all fruit particles have been filtered out.

The Perfect ‘Pimm’s’
- Highball or Collins glass filled with ice
- 2oz Fruit Cup
- 3 slices cucumber
- 1 strawberry
- 4-6oz fresh sparkling lemonade or ginger ale

cup Happy Hour   The Perfect Pimms

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Your Happy Hour

by on Aug.10, 2012, under Food

Here’s the first of many cheers to you, me, and whoever else is invited.

Drink the first
Sip the second, slowly
Skip the third

I don’t completely agree with the third line; to each his or her own. For this first of many installments of Happy Hour, we’re sampling something fresh and brisk with a little bite. This drink is complex, and the flavors dance along your tongue.

1 Your Happy Hour

3-4 chunks watermelon
50ml vodka**
35ml fresh lemon juice**
20ml elderflower*
20ml Campari

2 Your Happy Hour

Muddle watermelon, add ingredients, fill shaker 2/3 full with ice. Shake with vigor until frigid. Double strain into a chilled glass or coupe.

* – St Germain is the easiest and quickest elderflower you can get your hands on, with a very high quality control and flavor profile. There are other elderflower liqueurs out there, but few compare. I personally use a homemade elderflower cordial.

** – Vodka can be subbed for white rhum, and the lemon juice for lime, giving this drink another twist and an absolutely new complexity. Stick with 50ml of rhum, but opt for 20ml of lime juice.

3 Your Happy Hour

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