And then there were three….Books and a Bar Tour of Morristown, NJ.

http://www.qbookshop.com/authors/17884/Warren-Bobrow.html

With the release last week on Amazon of my third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, I must pause for a moment to reflect upon the past few years…  Ok, now that I’ve finished reflection- it’s time to get back to work.

I was introduced a couple days ago to Eventbrite, which is, if you don’t know already – the global leader in event planning and implementation. They’re a cool place to find local events, or organize events, and sell tickets to your events!
I’m participating in their new project that is called – quite simply- Hometown Hunt.
I’ll be sharing my favorite local spots on Cocktailwhisperer.com , my own website that has unlocked many doors since I built it.
It’s a pretty simple site, not a whole lot of bells and whistles here! So hopefully you can follow along with me and let me know what you think.

One of the things that I don’t often do is “blog”… Years ago, I took a course in food blogging at the former French Culinary Institute and it didn’t go well- primarily because I don’t consider myself a blogger!  I think columnist fits the bill better- yet I digress,  blogging is big business for spirits companies!

How do you monetize it though?

 

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Why you should go to the Jockey Hollow Restaurant. 

I haven’t been to eat, but I do know that their cocktail program is world-class with Christopher James at the helm.   Chris is my mentor and friend- full disclosure, I bar-backed for him at the Ryland Inn (scary) and learned that being a bartender is not always a glamorous job!  It’s darned hard work!

Chris is fond of many advanced techniques within the confines of the bar.  In many ways, what he has achieved is part of a brilliant career.  Hat’s off to him!  And the Jockey Hollow Restaurant?  As I said, I haven’t dined there yet- maybe someday…

Here is a short list of places that get it with respect to cocktails in Morristown, NJ.

David Todd’s..  from the moment you hear the familiar music and New York Cool- without the NYC attitude- and dig deeply into their Wine Spectator Award of Excellence cellar or what I came for- the well-crafted cocktails- made with the best possible ingredients- well… you know you have arrived.  There is no pretension here- even though that gal or guy sitting next to you has their own private jet, fueled and ready at Morristown Airport.  So try to dress to impress, because you never know!

The hand-crafted drinks, some deceptively strong will make that first impression correct.  This is one of the most beguiling of all the Morristown places that gets it with great drinks.  And the food?  It plays in conjunction with the cocktails and most certainly the well-chosen wine list.

Just go!  Have a Negroni, sit outside and watch the world go by.

The Negroni

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererI love the drink named the Negroni. It’s bright, refreshing and quenches the thirst, unlike many cocktails. It never leaves me feeling drab, nor does it take away my appetite like some other cocktails do when sipped before a meal.In my upcoming book, Apothecary Cocktails, Restoratives from Yesterday and Today, I discuss the correlation of the digestive tract and healing, by using liquors mixed with fresh herbs. If only the pharmacists from years back had known about the Negroni as a healing curative! Well, in a way they did.

The Negroni was invented back in 1919 in Florence, Italy – purposively built to heal what ails you. Orson Wells famously said in 1947 that, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” I don’t know about you, but I think gin is good for you. Perhaps Mr. Wells had it altogether incorrect. The entire drink is good for you. Gin, after all, was used during the Middle Ages as a curative for the Black Plague. And Vermouth has long been held as a curative for many internal battles surrounding the digestive glands.

The history of the Negroni involves a base spirit, like gin, plus bitters and vermouth. I enjoy my Negroni Cocktail with the powerfully intoxicating Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Distilled with a healthy smack of the juniper berry and woven into a backdrop of citrus with a hefty punch of alcohol, the Caorunn Gin just tempts me to have another. Combined with the syrupy and complex Carpano Antica Vermouth and the historically correct Campari Bitters from Italy, the Negroni speaks very clearly of getting buzzed with the minimum of effort. I just sipped my Negroni down and absolutely feel no pain. And why would I, with the application of my finger to stir this magnificent cocktail?

My friend Gary Regan stirs his with his finger so why shouldn’t I?

Well the reasons are numerous why you should not stir your cocktail with your finger. Cleanliness has something to do with this. But I suppose if you dipped your finger in your tri-sink filled with disinfectants and cleansers, you’d really have nothing to worry about as long as you were in your own home. I always use a cocktail spoon when working behind the bar so not to upset my customers! The drink shown was mixed with my own finger… far away from any paying customers!

The best Negroni is also the simplest one to make. I do only a couple of things differently:

1. Wash glass out inside and out with cool water.
2. Dry carefully with a soft towel.
3. Pack with ice and water.
4. Carefully measure out your ingredients, pour out the bar ice and water.

I also use a couple large hand-cut cubes of ice from a silicone tray in the freezer so I can control the quality of my ice.

The Negroni Cocktail

Ingredients:
• 1 oz. Campari
• 1 oz. Carpano Antica
• 1 oz. Caorunn Gin
• 2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

Preparation:

1. Add Campari.
2. Add Sweet Vermouth –

I ALWAYS USE Carpano Antica for the second step.

3. Add your choice of Gin. In this case I used Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Caorunn is liberally flecked with citrus fruit woven around the haunting elegance of the moors at night.

4. Add The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters.
5. Add ice.
6. Stir all ingredients together…

(And no, you don’t have to use your finger!!!)

Grand Cafe… transport  yourself into this very European restaurant, owned by Desmond and Alice Lloyd.  This is a boite of the highest provenance.  Don’t come in jeans or shorts, make sure your shirt is pressed and tie your shoes, yes… it matters…  Then, please comb your hair and while you’re at it, clean your glasses .  This is not a bar, sure they have a small one for a pre-dinner slurp-made very carefully I might add… The Grand Cafe in Morristown serves, quite possibly the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever enjoyed in a bar (or restaurant for that matter…) 

(It’s rolled, never shaken) and their brilliant Irish Coffee is every bit Ireland as anything in the world.

The BEST is found here at the Grand Cafe.

Jockey Hollow…  again.  Chris James at the helm.  Need I say more?  Just go and pour yourself into a seat at the bar.

SM23For a slice of NYC with all the thumping but not the bumping, try this very sophisticated boite located within the Headquarters Plaza building.  Classic cocktails, made with the best ingredients possible are the framework for SM23.  Just go- and bring an appetite for some of the best Indian and Asian food around, save room for dessert!!!

End of ElmI’ve had good cocktails here.  While not a Craft Cocktail lounge, the emphasis is on their food at EOE…  They do mix some fine drinks without much fluff.   I like it and if you find their prices too rich for your pocket, you can always get a submarine sandwich at Long John’s next door for your lunch with some for the next day!

 

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Dive Bars and just some really lousy bars.   Morristown is full of them.  They say that Morristown is the Hoboken of the western part of the state.  I say the Morristown-Town Fathers got what they deserved with the quality of bars that exist by the historic Green.  And don’t even get me started on the interior architecture of these places.. Isn’t Morristown a Colonial town?

With a major focus of my career for drinking fewer drinks and drinking better when you do drink…  well, it is an embarrassment, at least for myself as someone who takes great pride in the cocktail movement, to even try to have a conversation about why a margarita should not have both cheap triple sec and bottled sour mix.   Morristown dive bars and some of the ones that surround the Green, like many other places around the country serve no better than the worst drink you’ve ever had- made to appear to be the best drink that you’ve ever had- but as I like to say, the ice gives it all away.

Find me a place with good ice and I’ll tell everyone.  If you use bar ice?  Well for me at least, it’s all bad things.  And if you are making your Margarita cocktails with triple sec and bottled sour mix- well, it should be a crime.

These places don’t try to make anything that even closely resembles a craft cocktail- and thus they do not get it.  But they do serve the multitudes of people who flood to Morristown to get as smashed as possible.  It’s a fact of life- like or not.

IMG_2850awful… beer and shots made with cheap ingredients.  Play hopscotch  outside at night, or on a weekend with what is sometimes left on the sidewalk by over-indulgence’s.

It’s a very young set here.  No soft jazz or Sinatra on the stereo, so don’t ask.  A good place to stay well clear of in my opinion. 

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Last National Rum Day I went into the Grasshopper and I asked them which cocktail they were making to celebrate this National Holiday… They replied Malibu and Coke.   That’s just wrong.  And it was served with a slice of lime that dated to the Truman Administration.  Next…

Even the Guinness is too cold.

Shall I go on?

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The Iron Bar…  It’s cheap and tawdry.  From the low quality, bottled sour mix they use to fill out most every mixed drink, to the base spirits made in chemical factories, if you like your flavored vodka in candy varieties like whipped cream and chocolate pudding, you’ll love it here.  And their Bloody Mary is shaken.  FAIL….

Definitely a younger crowd.

The Office- located next door tries really hard.  I do love their beer list, but their cocktail list needs much refinement and balance to be included on the list of who gets it in Morristown…. the answer is- very few.  Urban Table tries hard too… Without much luck. 

Roots is not a place for a Craft Cocktail.  A Rob Roy might work in a pinch or a decent Manhattan, but these prices?  

This is not New York, so please, use better Vermouth in that well north of fifteen dollar drink.   Again.. Just my opinion. 

 

One of the great liquor and wine stores in Morristown is Cambridge Wines on Morris Street.  They have one of the best selections of whiskey around.  AND they have sold copies of my books!  A win/win!

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The Grapeful Palate, located up on South Street has a very carefully curated selection of wines, beers and spirits.  I love their attention to the customer and the calming effects of the Grateful Dead on the stereo system, making this a perfect destination for all your desires in the liquor world.

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Book # 1

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Book #2

9781592336753

Book # 3

From Liquor.com and DrinkupNY.com (The Negroni as illustrated)

The Negroni.. As Illustrated…

From Cocktail Whisperer on Dec 31, 2013

Read the original »

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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Negroni

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I love the drink named the Negroni. It’s bright, refreshing and quenches the thirst, unlike many cocktails. It never leaves me feeling drab, nor does it take away my appetite like some other cocktails do when sipped before a meal.

In my upcoming book, Apothecary Cocktails, Restoratives from Yesterday and Today, I discuss the correlation of the digestive tract and healing, by using liquors mixed with fresh herbs. If only the pharmacists from years back had known about the Negroni as a healing curative! Well, in a way they did.

The Negroni was invented back in 1919 in Florence, Italy – purposively built to heal what ails you. Orson Wells famously said in 1947 that, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” I don’t know about you, but I think gin is good for you. Perhaps Mr. Wells had it altogether incorrect. The entire drink is good for you. Gin, after all, was used during the Middle Ages as a curative for the Black Plague. And Vermouth has long been held as a curative for many internal battles surrounding the digestive glands.

The history of the Negroni involves a base spirit, like gin, plus bitters and vermouth. I enjoy my Negroni Cocktail with the powerfully intoxicating Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Distilled with a healthy smack of the juniper berry and woven into a backdrop of citrus with a hefty punch of alcohol, the Caorunn Gin just tempts me to have another. Combined with the syrupy and complex Carpano Antica Vermouth and the historically correct Campari Bitters from Italy, the Negroni speaks very clearly of getting buzzed with the minimum of effort. I just sipped my Negroni down and absolutely feel no pain. And why would I, with the application of my finger to stir this magnificent cocktail?

My friend Gary Regan stirs his with his finger so why shouldn’t I?

Well the reasons are numerous why you should not stir your cocktail with your finger. Cleanliness has something to do with this. But I suppose if you dipped your finger in your tri-sink filled with disinfectants and cleansers, you’d really have nothing to worry about as long as you were in your own home. I always use a cocktail spoon when working behind the bar so not to upset my customers! The drink shown was mixed with my own finger… far away from any paying customers!

The best Negroni is also the simplest one to make. I do only a couple of things differently:

1. Wash glass out inside and out with cool water.
2. Dry carefully with a soft towel.
3. Pack with ice and water.
4. Carefully measure out your ingredients, pour out the bar ice and water.

I also use a couple large hand-cut cubes of ice from the Williams Sonoma silicone ice cube tray. But most importantly, I filter my water first with ice made from from my Mavea “Inspired Water” filter. With this magical device, my ice nearly freezes crystal clear. A far cry from the ice that comes out of the ice machine in the fridge.

The Negroni Cocktail

Ingredients:
• 1 oz. Campari
• 1 oz. Carpano Antica
• 1 oz. Caorunn Gin
• 2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

Preparation:

1. Add Campari.
2. Add Sweet Vermouth – I ALWAYS USE Carpano Antica for the second step.

3. Add your choice of Gin. In this case I used Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Caorunn is liberally flecked with citrus fruit woven around the haunting elegance of the moors at night.

4. Add The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters.
5. Add ice.
6. Stir all ingredients together… (And no, you don’t have to use your finger!!!)

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

– See more at: http://drinkwire.liquor.com/post/the-negroni-as-illustrated#sthash.na0iK3hA.HuSc6QGl.dpuf

Heart of Darkness Swizzle

TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2014

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererI remember vividly the first time that I tasted the unmistakable flavor of Thai food.  It just was electrifying.  The flavors were intensely spicy and they crackled over my tongue in a way that Americanized Chinese food was incapable of doing.

I was living out in California in Venice Beach and seemingly overnight a new wave of brightly flavored and textured cooking erupted on the scene.  The usually gloppy, overly sweetened and excessively oily pan-Asian style foods were suddenly replaced by crisp, aromatic and intensely spicy flavors that I’d never experienced prior.  This occurred around 1980 so the phrase “California Cuisine” had not been invented yet.  But Thai food had just arrived on the West Coast and it blew open my palate like nothing ever had prior.

What I enjoy most about Thai food is the depth of the spice, the clarity of the heat and the intense simplicity of the spices and herbs used in the cooking.

One strikingly potent ingredient is called the Kaffir Lime leaf.  This leaf, used in Thai and Laotian curry pastes gives foods an sour, astringent and bitter flavor that works perfectly against the sweeter elements of palm sugar and the heat of the spices.

I love Kaffir Lime leaf in my food and my drink.  Sometimes I cut a Kaffir Lime leaf in half and drop it into a glass of seltzer water.  It’s drinking a trip to Thailand without the expensive plane ticket.

This would stand to reason from my passion for spicy Thai food, that I would enjoy Kaffir Lime leaf in my vodka as well.   Not an insipidly sweet chemical plant, processed liqueur, but a richly flavored, lush and intensely elegant vodka that is remarkably restrained and aromatic.  Hanger 1 is producing something so unusual that I would say safely that I’ve tasted nothing so mesmeric in my life- other than Thai curry.  And I’ve just learned that the Kaffir Lime leaf when sprayed on a bug makes an excellent insecticide.  But I don’t recommend rooting out bugs infestations with such rare and lovely vodka.

What I recommend doing with it is mixing with it!

Recently I received a gorgeous bottle of vermouth from Italy by way of a friend in NYC.  Carpano Bianco is
the name of the vermouth.  If you love the traditionally red Carpano Antica Formula and couldn’t imagine using anything else in a Negroni, please indulge my sense of balance in a cocktail.  You should try the new Bianco (white) version.  Carpano Bianco is opulent across the tongue, velvety and packed full of aromatic herbs, secret spices and roots.  In a tip of the hat to the Negroni cocktail, I would suggest using the Bianco, instead of the deeply red colored Antica for a lighter, change of pace.  To describe the opulence of Carpano you must first throw out those bottle of vermouth that are over a few years old.  You haven’t been refrigerating them?  Shame! Do you store them in a cool cellar? No???

If you have been stashing your vermouth on top of the fridge or in a hot closet- throw your bottles out immediately!  Vermouth needs care- not too much care, but it should be treated like Port or Sherry.  (Both fortified wines)  Eventually vermouth will turn vinegary and will fail to please you- and that’s the rub because most people are still drinking the less expensive brands that start off sour or vinegary, like Martini and Rossi or Cinzano.  These are industrial brands with venerable, historic names- that’s about it.  So if vermouth has injected a bad taste in your cocktail- it is not necessarily the quality that is bringing your drink down, it’s because your vermouth has soured!

As with all great things in life, the quality of a product is not necessarily dictated by the price, but I do think an artisanal product such as Carpano is not going to come inexpensively.  That is a fact of life in a consumer driven society.  Where there is high demand and limited supply comes price and Carpano Bianco is not inexpensive.  But what you have of it is truly gorgeous and you need to buy a bottle from DrinkupNY and try it with the Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf vodka.

To make this cocktail really sing, I stumbled across a bottle of Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters.  To me, the addition of the unrestrainedly bitter oils of the grapefruit zest encapsulated in the bitters, added to this craft cocktail with both Carpano Bianco and Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf just says the heart of darkness.

Mysterious, beguiling and very sensual is just the beginning of this drink that I call, the Heart of Darkness Swizzle.

(You do have a Swizzle Stick, right?)

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

Ingredients:
2 oz. Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf Vodka
½ oz. Carpano Bianco Vermouth
2-3 shakes Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
1 oz. Seltzer Water
Fresh mint

Prep:
Add all ingredients except for your seltzer- to a tall Collins glass with crushed ice
Insert the Swizzle Stick and move it between your palms and with an up and down motion- like a Mixmaster Blender!

Add the seltzer and the bitters with a bit more ice and garnish with the mint…

YUM and simple!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

The Dripping Spanish Moss Cocktail

 

Warren Bobrow’s Cocktail Hour – Dripping Spanish Moss Cocktail

Tuaca- Dark Rum from Atlantico- Angostura Bitters, Grade B Maple Syrup and charred citrus fruits make up this week’s cocktail experience.

The inspiration for this drink came during dinner a few weeks ago at the highly regarded modern American restaurant named Serenade; located in Chatham, NJ.

They prepare a cocktail that’s similar in scope, using sweet vermouth and chopped apples named the Chatham cocktail.

I love it.

In keeping with my twisted cocktail logic, I deepened the version served at Serenade by adding Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth, Tuaca- the savory Mexican Vanilla / Citrus Liqueur, Atlantico Dark Rum, a muddle of chopped, grilled citrus fruits (tangerine, orange, grapefruit) with Grade B (Dark Amber) Maple Syrup and finally a few dashes of Angostura Bitters with a splash of Perrier.

I call this drink the Dripping Spanish Moss Cocktail in reverence to the coming week’s activities.

I’ll be traveling to Charleston, South Carolina to judge the Iron Cocktail Competition at the renowned Charleston Wine and Food Festival.

With regards to the Iron Mixologist competition I will be judging, William Grant & Sons is sponsoring this competition and the back bar will feature their entire portfolio (or most of it).  Their master mixologist Charlotte Voisey will be the master of ceremonies.  The competition is 3 rounds.  The 4 mixologists involved are Charleston locals and were the finalists in the Official Festival Mixologist Competition in January for the Festival featuring Milagro Tequila + Hendrick’s Gin.  They are:

Jon Calo of The Cocktail Club

Mick Matricciano of The Belmont (Mick won the competition in January + his cocktail will be featured at the opening night party)

Brent Sweatman

Evan Powell of Fish Restaurant

 

The first round will have all 4 competing against one another to create a specific themed drink (decided by Charlotte).  You and the other judges – Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef and Nicholas Polacchi, The Balvenie – will then narrow the finalists down to 3 who will then go to the next round to create a specific themed cocktail (decided by Charlotte).  The second round will continue like the first and the 3rd will be the final two.

 

The competition is from 4:00 – 5:00 PM on Friday, March 2, 2012 in the culinary village in Marion Square in the Palmetto Cheese Culinary Hub Tent.

If you are anywhere near Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, stop by and introduce yourself.

The Dripping Spanish Moss Cocktail– is named for the surfeit of Spanish Moss that hangs gracefully from the “live oak” trees.

Ingredients:

Atlantico Dark Rum

Tuaca Italian Liqueur

Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth

Angostura Bitters

Charred Citrus Fruits – combinations are up to you. Sear in a sizzling hot pan until crunchy, then muddled with the Angostura Bitters and Maple Syrup

Grade B (Dark Amber) Maple Syrup

Perrier

Preparation:

In a sauté pan that is heated to smoking hot, sizzle the citrus fruits until nicely charred and crunchy

Add a couple of chunks of the seared fruits to a cocktail mixing glass

Muddle with a few splashes of Angostura Bitters to release their aroma and juice

Add 2 Tablespoons of Dark Amber Maple Syrup and muddle a bit more

Add 2 shots of the Atlantico Rum

Add ½ Shot of the Tuaca

Add a couple cubes of ice to the cocktail shaker

Shake and strain into a pre-chilled Martini glass

Garnish with a chunk of grilled citrus fruit and finish with a splash of Perrier for spark

 

Extractions of Seasonal Citrus Fruits in Cocktails

Happy New Year all!  I’ve been experimenting with citrus as of late- but instead of the usual juice it and forget it- the cast iron pan (over there) has made a new dimension to my drinks.

What?  A cast iron pan?  How do you mean?

I like the charred flavor of citrus fruits.  But how?

Clementines are seasonal.  As are blood oranges.  Grapefruits are gorgeous at this time of year.  Sure, they are great juiced, but why not heat up your cast iron pan to almost smoking, peel your citrus and throw it into the pan.  Char the citrus and set aside to cool.

Use your juicer.  What?  You don’t have a juicer?  Run down to Williams-Sonoma and buy one! 

Photo: Warren Bobrow (Leica M8-Summicron 50mm F2)

Tequila is one of my favorite mediums to work with.  As is the new wave of “Botanical” Gin.

My first cocktail- named aptly the “Essence of Simplicity” cocktail is just that.

Ingredients:

2-3 grapefruit peeled

sprig of mint

Bitter End Moroccan Bitters

4 shots of Casa Noble Tequila

Preparation:

Heat your cast iron pan to sizzling hot

Char the grapefruit segments until nicely browned on all sides

Juice the segments and strain

Add Casa Noble Tequila to a cocktail shaker filled 1/2 with ice

Add one medicine dropper of Bitter End Moroccan Bitters to the shaker

Add the juice of the charred grapefruit

Shake!!! Shake!!! Shake!!!

Strain into a short rocks glass with a sprig of mint as garnish…  Slurp and enjoy!

The next cocktail combines blood oranges juice, lime juice, and clementine juice in a punch-like concoction that includes Cava from Spain, Conjure Cognac and Ron de Jeremy Rum.  “The Long, Smooth Rum”

It’s aptly called the “Hedgehog’s Revenge”

Ingredients:

Blood Oranges

Limes

Clementines

Preparation:

Take about three each, peel away the bitter pith and char in your cast iron pan. Set aside to cool.

Juice the citrus fruits

To a cocktail shaker, add 1/2 with ice

Add 2 shots of Conjure Cognac

Add 4 shots of Ron de Jeremy Rum

Splash of Cava (Spanish Sparking Wine)

Add about 6 oz of the charred juices

Shake and strain into two Champagne flutes

Top with a splash of Cava

Sip carefully!

This Cocktail uses Botanical-style Gin.  What is Botanical Gin?  Quite simply, it’s Gin that tastes like something!  Most of the Gin on the market today has very little flavor.  If it said Vodka on the label- you’d be 1/2 way to a hangover by now!  My friend Laura Baddish sent me some samples of a lovely Botanical Gin named Bulldog.

This is Gin with GUTS!  It stands up to citrus faster than you can say “Gin with juice”  which is the basis of this little drink.  It’s more of a long drink than a mere shot.

You can also use- if you can find it… The new Gin named FEW from the mid-western part of the USA.  It’s remarkable stuff and it reminds me of White Whiskey in the nose… (More to follow on this one)

The More to Follow Cocktail is just that.  You want more- to follow!

Ingredients:

Blood Oranges- Charred in the cast iron pan

Home cured cocktail cherries

Fresh Mint

2 Shots of Bulldog or Few Gin

1 Shot of Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (or your choice)

1 Medicine Dropper of Bitter End Jamaican Jerk Bitters

Preparation:

Muddle the cherries and mint together in a cocktail shaker

Add some ice- how much?  Not much.

Add the Blood Orange juice

Add the Gin

Add the Carpano Antica

Add the Jamaican Jerk Bitters

Shake and strain into a tall Collins glass with a couple cubes of ice and one of your home-cured cherries.

 

 

 

 

The Bitter and the Sweet. (Originally posted on Williams-Sonoma’s Blender Blog)

Amaro & Vermouth: The Bitter and the Sweet

Originally Published Sep 9 1:56 pm by Warren Bobrow

 

My first experience with the romantic taste of Amaro came in Rome, when I was traveling in Italy with my parents. They would pull my sister and me out of school for a month or more at a time to see many of the European countries. My parents liked the best things that life had to offer — and rather than stick us on an impersonal tour bus, they would immerse us in local food, wine and museums.

I first noticed people enjoying Amaro in a street-side café. We were staying at the Hassler Hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps. Tourists find this staircase irresistible for photography and for pausing to enjoy a relaxing cocktail from the multitudes of street-side, stand-up table cocktail bars. There were several tall tables set up beside the steps, and young men in sharply cut suits were sipping tiny glasses of a caramel colored liquor with shots of espresso on the side.

I also remember that there was a tall, red tinged cocktail in almost everyone’s hands. I direct tweeted world famous “Cocktalian” Gaz Regan for his Negroni cocktail recipe and am including it here for good luck.

                      Negroni (recipe courtesy of Gaz Regan, via Twitter)

“I prefer 2 gin, 1 each campari & sweet vermouth. Gin: Traditional. Beefeater or Tanqueray fit the bill. Vermouth: Noilly Prat always.”

Little did I know at the time that what they were drinking would pave the way to my future desire to whisper about cocktails. I wanted to taste what these stylish people were drinking, because I was very sophisticated for a 12-year-old! At the end of my usual dinner bowl of Tortellini in Brodo, I remember sipping at my tiny glass hesitantly. It smelled faintly of citrus, and the texture of the liquor was soft on my inexperienced palate. The finish (as I remember) went on and on, seemingly for years.

 

Italian Vermouth in many ways is similar to Amaro, but a bit less bitter on the tongue.  Some uniquely flavorful ones from Italy are Punt e Mes and the esoteric, salubrious Carpano Antica.  The Carpano is a rum raisin-filled mouthful of sweet vanilla cake, laced with Asian spices and caramelized dark stone fruits. Punt e Mes is lighter and nuttier, with caramelized pecans and hand-ground grits in the finish.

I’m sure the alcohol is low — all these products (Amaro included) are low in alcohol, making them perfect in a cocktail. Amaro can be enjoyed as a digestif, it acts to settle the stomach after a large meal because of the herbal ingredients.

But what does Amaro taste like? The flavors vary from sweet to bittersweet to herbal, featuring orange blossoms, caramel and nuts. Some taste like artichoke, others like mint, and still others like a sweetened root tea. They may be enjoyed in a cup of hot tea as an elixir, or dropped into a small cup of espresso to “correct” the sweet, thick coffee.

 

You can drink Amaro straight or on the rocks, or even as an adjunct to other alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients. I love Ramazzotti Amaro, Averna, Branca Menta and its twin (without the mint), Fernet Branca. There are dozens that I’ve tasted around Europe and at home in New Jersey.

But why is Amaro so fundamental to the Italian style of living? Perhaps the explanation will be: with everything sweet, there must also be a bitter side?

I’m not sure, since I’ve read that Amaro is more than just a drink; it’s a way of life. Whatever the explanation is, the use of the bitter herbs, roots and spices are pleasing to drink and stimulate conversation. Because of the low alcohol level, the drink is uniquely designed to extend your meal into further conversation, not end it immediately with a cup of coffee.

A dash of bitter and a dash of the sweet make life go round and round.