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.
30ml (1oz) Campari
30ml (1oz) vermouth
Top with soda
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.
30ml (1oz) Campari
30ml (1oz) Italian (sweet) vermouth
Splash of gin
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
Cheers to you!
It’s no secret that I love drinks. I love making drinks. I love drinking drinks. I love talking about drinks. I love the history of drinks. I love them served on cubes, crushed ice, up, in a chilled glass, from a carafe, from a pitcher, from a bottle. They needn’t be alcoholic for me to love them, but that is a good starting point! All around, it’s simple to say that I’m a drink nerd. So with that, I plan to start a weekly series, every Friday, to help kick off your weekend – Your Happy Hour!
I’ll be making classics, twists on classics, reinvented new drinks, personal favorites, and original recipes. It may be just a drink. It may be a process for making something pertaining to drinks. It may be something completely off the wall. Just look forward to some honest-to-goodness reading, seeing, and namely…drinking!
In less than two weeks, numerous riders from around the country will be racing their penny farthing bicycles in a first annual criterium (a closed-course, timed race) around Frederick, Maryland - just 50 miles from the capital of the USA. It’s interesting the competitiveness that the Olympics kind of creates just before this race occurs. No event quite like this has occurred in the US since the end of the 19th century. England has Knutsford once every ten years; a famous antique bike race that started in 1980. The Southwest Pacific (Australia, NZ, Tasmania) has the Evandale National Penny Farthing Championships yearly, since 1983. Beginning this year, America will have its own reoccurring race, the Frederick Clustered Spire High Wheel Race.
While most riders are indeed from the Maryland area, some are traveling from as far as Texas, Missouri, and Arizona. I think it goes without saying who the rider from Arizona is.
All that said, as much as I’d like to win the race, I haven’t been on an ordinary in three years, and I haven’t been on the Eagle since April. Additionally, I have not been training, besides my four-mile to-and-fro work five times a week. It should be fun, but it makes me sad to have missed RAGBRAI this year in exchange for competing in this first annual high-wheel race.
Such fascinating history can’t be lost forever. We often think we know everything and have discovered all the missing pieces, but then some selfless, hard work unearths a truth we’ve been overlooking for so long. The story of Sylvester Roper, motorcycles and automobiles is one of those things. Just now we’re understanding our naivety and ignorance. It’s accepted now, that Roper made many vehicles, many of which he took no credit for, allowing friends and investors to take credit for creating. Roper certainly created some of our very first automobiles, as well as invented things like the shotgun choke, the repeatable shotgun revolver, a hot-air engine, a handstitching sewing machine. Patents in his name include a padlock, shotgun choke, semi-automatic shotgun, knitting machines, fire-arm magazines and more.
In 1867, Sylvester Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts sturdied a bicycle – a velocipede; also known as a boneshaker – a boiler and a steam engine together to craft what is accepted to be one of the first known motorcycles. Though these machines were never publicly accepted, they paved the way for gas powered motorcycles of the 1900s. Of the many steam-powered vehicles Roper created, only two are known to be motorcycles. Included are steam-carriages, one of which is carefully housed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Roper began crafting the 94 steam-cycle with a Pope, Columbia model 36 bicycle. To it he added a boiler, burner, water pump, grate, and steam engine which all powered the spinning of the rear wheel, similar to his original Hanlon velocipede of 1867. The water pump was powered by the rear hub and the water tank situated on top of the boiler. Roper used his motorcycle commonly to show its extreme potential, but also for his own amusement and transportation. It’s rumored that Roper would fire up his Columbia, ride it seven miles to the bay, take the coals out and put them in his steam-boat, enjoy his of boating and then return some of the coals back to his bike and ride home.
1 June 1896, Roper’s brilliant mind left this world. At Charles River Velodrome, near Cambridge, Mass, Roper was pacing bicyclists who couldn’t keep up with his powerful steam-wheel. He was clocked doing 40 miles per hour at his top speed – 2 minutes 1.4 seconds for a single mile. The crowd then experienced him wobbling on his bike and then he fell to the track, suffering head-injury. Autopsy found the cause of death to be heart failure, however it is unknown if his heart failed, causing the crash, or an issue unknown to us caused him to suffer heart-attack, and then wreck. Papers of the time mention he had turned off the steam-engine before the wreck, as if he knew there was an issue.
“… had made fast time on Charles River Park when he suddenly fell – had shut off the steam as if on premonition of the end.”
Bikes made before 1900 are rare enough; many still hidden away in barns. Most people probably think of me and think how taking it a next step away from reality is just how I live. Ashamed to say, that might be the case. Post-RAGBRAI 2011, I decided a high wheel tandem would be fun to ride (what is wrong with me?!). So I started researching a bit, and came up with very little information and pictures. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, though.
The Ruckter tandem was imported in 1884 or 1885 and was ridden state side. One is hanging in the Ben Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. I laughed out loud when I first saw it. Reading the papers of the times about a 4 inch difference in wheel size could accommodated. The two wheels could be ridden parallel with a couple foot wide track; this was not for the weak of heart. There is at least one in the CZ that has been ridden in modern times. One was made for the Glenn Stockdale collection which defyied ridding at least by the vetrans that tried to master it. Later sold at auction about 7 years ago. If Jimmie Spillane can build a monocycle – this should be a walk in the park for him to turn out one. Amaze your friends and family wear a helmet along with your partner take out a hefty insurance policy and give it a go, we’ll be waiting to see the youtube videos.
The Benjamin Franklin Institute labels this as a photo from 1884.
Cornelius C. Mershon and Alvin Irwin on a Rucker Tandem in 1884
Additionally, this one from 1931.
Henry Crowther and two children wave to the camera on June 3, 1931.
Most typically, back in those days, a tandem bicycle (high wheel) was called a courting bike; also known as dual track or two track. They had a total of 3 or 4 wheels; any combination of big and small – 2 big, 1 little; 1 big, 2 little; 4 big. The true high-wheel tandem is clearly difficult to ride, and quite something to master – both physically and mentally!
Another strange tandem of the old days.
Comic book ad which mentions high-tandems.