I’ve always been fond of the cocktail named the Negroni. There is a story behind this venerable cocktail that is told again and again. I’m not sure if there is truth in it but it sure tells a vivid picture. There was a Count with the either the first name Negroni or his last- and he was particularly interested in getting soused. Soused as in similar to my little friend Klaus who just returned from Massachusetts. But as I digress into Klaus’s journey to the North Shore where he mixed up dozens of cocktails for my third book, Count Negroni still is waiting for his time in the sun. We will get back to Klaus in a moment.
Count Negroni was fond of three liquors during his time at his local watering spot. But it’s really not certain, to myself- or to Klaus, if the good Count had a belly-ache, (Campari, one of the ingredients, is good for a belly ache) and of course the gin element, (generally good for what ails ye) and the sweet vermouth element, (hair tonic, worm elimination from the belly…) Let’s just say the Count was buzzed after a few Negroni cocktails!!!
Klaus likes that too! He LOVES getting soused, especially on the Forth of July!
In fact too much as I said prior with a few dozen cocktails produced for Klaus’s cameo performance at Glenn Scott’s studio in Beverly, Massachusetts. Glenn is Klaus’s photographer friend having shot the last two books. (Apothecary Cocktails and the forthcoming Whiskey Cocktails) Klaus made some pretty potent drinks for the crew and he is still calling out for icy cold shots of his favorite elixir, Fernet Branca!
This summer Klaus and myself are going up to Maine to make cocktails, I mean MOCKtails at Stonewall Kitchen.
What Klaus wants to make for the Forth of July has a kick to it.
The Negroni that Klaus loves is pretty simple. It only has three ingredients.
The Cocktail Whisperer Negroni uses Barr Hill Gin instead of Beefeater. If you cannot get Barr Hill, I’m sure you can find Beefeater. It also uses Campari and Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth. Punt e Mes is also delicious or any of the New York State Vermouth that is knocking the socks off of your palate, one sip at a time.
The Cocktail Whisperer Negroni
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica is my choice)
1 oz. Barr Hill Gin (Made from grain and raw honey with juniper)
1 oz. Campari
Into a cocktail mixing glass, fill ¾ with ice
Add the liquid ingredients
Stir 20 times to chill, but not dilute
Strain into a rocks glass with one cube of ice and twist the lemon zest over the top, releasing the oils
The next drink is the one that Klaus and I are performing for our class at Stonewall Kitchen in Maine. I call it the 1808 Fizz. Klaus still isn’t sure what the 1808 stands for, but one thing is for certain, with a dose of either vodka or gin, you have a drink that will take your sense of concern away. Hide the car keys!! Klaus is coming over for your Fourth of July Fireworks!
The 1808 fizz has one ingredient that needs to be made beforehand. That is the grilled grapefruit juice. I’d grill 3 inch thick slices of grapefruit to give them some color and char, cool and then juice. You can do this the day prior. It gives the grapefruit a chance to mellow and take on the charred flavors.
I also suggest finding brilliant new tangerine syrup from Massachusetts named Fruitations. There are many fruit syrups on the market and I love many of them, but I’ve yet to find tangerine soda syrup that isn’t too cloying and is not too tangy either. You don’t have to do much to cocktails made with Fruitations.
Sorel is a highly expressive bitter/sweet liqueur that tangs of the islands, yet it is made right in Brooklyn by the ever-ambitious Jackie Summers. Jackie is better known as Jack from Brooklyn and his liqueur is unique in every way. An mélange of Caribbean spices, warm notes of tropical fruits and freshly ground herbs, Sorel is fragrant and humble with your time. I recommend it highly.
Barr Hill is Klaus’s favorite Gin. Made carefully with love in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, this gin is made with an unlikely ingredient- and that is HONEY. Raw honey to be exact makes this gin speak in languages not yet discovered. There is beauty in each and every sip of Barr Hill gin. I suggest DrinkupNY if you have trouble finding it where you live, or use the handy store locator on their well designed web-site.
Klaus and I are firm believers in bitters. Bitters are what give craft cocktails their backbone and add depth, balance and humor to a mixed drink. They finish a drink with a flourish and give that umami- third sensation to a craft cocktail that is indescribable. Bitter and sweet… Life itself cannot hope for anything more profound says Klaus as he reaches for a tall bottle of Angostura Bitters. Klaus knows that when he has a bellyache in his little ceramic belly, Angostura and seltzer water cures him every time.
The 1808 Fizz
Ingredients for two thirsty revolutionaries…
4 oz. Barr Hill Gin
1 oz. Sorel (from my friend Jackie Summers)
2 oz. Grilled Grapefruit Juice
1 oz. Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup
6 oz. Polar Seltzer
2-4 drops Angostura Bitters
Muddle some fresh mint in a cocktail mixing glass
Fill ¾ with ice
Add the Barr Hill Gin and the Sorel
Add the juice and the Fruitations syrup
Cap and shake hard for 15 seconds
Pour over ice in two Collins glasses with fresh mint as a garnish and dash Angostura Bitters over the top
Serve and Klaus will be right over… Happy Fourth of July from Klaus!