June 11, 2010

Not the "chirp, tweet" kind.

I managed to get to a great liquor store in my area, one that has the widest selection of amari (bitter liqueurs, traditionally Italian) that I've found anywhere nearby. And in lieu of getting a $29 bottle of Campari, even though I really wanted to get one, I opted instead for a little more than kin and at a price more kind...Luxardo makes a similar product called, simply, Bitter. Both Campari and Luxardo Bitter (and their lower-proof cousin, Aperol, which is also owned by the Campari group, now) are bitter apertif liqueurs, that have a lot of flavorings in them, lots of herbs, and a noticeable bitter and sweet orange note. The most famous drink that's made with Campari (or its substitutes) is a Negroni; equal measures of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. It's good, but I tend to find sweet vermouth to be a little cloying sometimes. And so I nosed around a little more and found this relative. Not quite 1:1:1 ratios of the three ingredients, it's named, I presume, for its color, and most likely for the clergy who wear it. Less likely is the notion that it's named for the bird. Though red, the avian Cardinal is not italian and likely does not drink. I add a dash of orange bitters just to bring out that note a little more in my Luxardo Bitter.
The Cardinal Cocktail

1 oz London dry gin
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz Luxardo Bitter/Campari/Aperol
dash of orange bitters

stir all well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The Bitter is certainly bitter...there's a note in there that recalls Fernet Branca...but it's also sweet, and citrusy, and refreshing. It's a surprisingly subtle drink, and one that I think will fare very well over the summer, as temperatures rise and the sun beats down and turns my skin the color of Campari. Pass the lidocaine.

Cardinal Cocktail


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