From the archives…
The Negroni might be my favorite cocktail (although it may be a close tie with the equally sublime Daiquiri) and over the years, I have experimented with many different variations. By variation I mean:
- replacing the base alcohol (gin) with another one (rum, scotch, mezcal, tequila, or whiskey of course (*));
- replacing Campari with another amaro with a similar flavor profile (Aperol, Gran Classico bitter (**) (***));
- adding other ingredients in small touches (coffee liqueur, Fernet, etc, salt);
- or experimenting with aperitif wines including various sweet vermouths (Dolin, Vya, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, etc), less sweet sweet vermouths (Punt e Mes), quinquinas (Bonal, Byrrh), and aromatized wines (Cocchi Barolo Chinato).
In the next few weeks, I am going to start publishing on the blog a lot of items I posted over the years on the culinary message board eGullet. I’ve been active on eGullet as Frog Princesse for more than 10 years and close to 4000 posts now, well before I started the blog, and decided to start consolidating a lot of my content here on the blog so it would be all in one place. Also eGullet has been recently riddled with software issues, and I am concerned that one day all this content might be inaccessible or partially lost.
Timeless elegance is the theme of this month’s Mixology Monday Challenge and Special 100th Edition. With the resurgence of cocktail culture in the last 15 years, it’s interesting to note that we seem to have gone though a cycle. The old classics were rediscovered, elevated, tweaked, riffed on. Eventually we got a bit side-tracked with exotic ingredients, molecular mixology, or 20-component cocktails. Now the trend seems to be for simple yet memorable cocktails.
One person though always stayed the course, and his vision of perfectly crafted cocktails inspired countless bartenders all over the world. That person, of course, is Sasha Petraske, who passed away a few days ago. It’s quite incredible how much of a deep impact he had on the cocktail world as a whole. So many bartenders I admire have worked in his bars, or have been trained by people who worked in his bars. Many of them have opened or managed successful and influential bars. Continue reading
Fernet is an acquired taste. Like with Campari and other amari, the bitter Italian herbal liqueurs, you tend to remember your first time vividly. Fernet is quite polarizing to say the least. Most people are revulsed at the mere thought of what they perceive as some kind of diabolical medicine. It’s a punch in the face and for most, not an experience they wish to repeat any time soon.
One unexpected use for Fernet – it helps against vampires! (photo reproduced by H2O74)
Finding something original for this month’s Mixology Monday Challenge, “almost, but not quite, a Martini“, was somewhat of a difficult task. The Martini is such a popular cocktail that it already inspired hundreds of variations (and I am not talking about the abominations that don’t bear much resemblance to the gin and dry vermouth classic, other than the glass they are served in). For example, The Savoy Cocktail Book contains endless variations on this theme that only differ by dashes of various ingredients, from bitters to curaçao, grenadine, or absinthe… Continue reading
Like a lot of my cocktailian friends, the Aviation is one of the drinks that really got me into cocktails a while back. Lured by the appeal of a cocktail with a beautiful pale blue hue, for months (years?) I looked for that elusive bottle of violet liqueur. When I finally put my hands on one, the Aviation became my go-to cocktail for a while and was what I would serve to my friends at cocktail parties. I loved how refreshing and interesting it was, despite having only a few ingredients.
Last year I visited the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London and tried one of Erik Lorincz‘s creations, the Norman Conquest. It was similar to a Manhattan with a mix of bourbon and calvados as the base spirit. I love calvados so the drink captured my interest.
At the American Bar they used Woodford Reserve bourbon and Martini Rosso vermouth; at home I recreated the cocktail with Buffalo Trace and Dolin rouge for a more assertive mix. My calvados is Daron.
Then I remembered that I had tried a similar Manhattan variation with apple brandy in the past, Sam Ross’ Grandfather. He calls for applejack but I used calvados. I made them side-by-side for comparison purposes. The differences are minor – the simple syrup and orange twist in Erik Lorincz’s version, the Peychaud’s bitters in Sam Ross’ version, calvados vs. applejack, rocks vs. up. Continue reading