Drink of the Week: The Killer in Red

The Killer in Red.If the name of this week’s drink sounds like the title of a mid-20th century pulpy crime thriller to you, you’re half right. It’s taken from a very classy, though entirely promotional, 13 minute neo-noir homage from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, best known in the states for his all-star drama “Youth” and his Fellini-esque “The Great Beauty.” As booze commercials go, “The Killer in Red” is, typically for Sorrentino, rich in deep-dish eye candy, from it’s outlandish L.A.-centric decor to French-Swiss co-star Caroline Tilvlette, who motivates Clive Owen’s bartender to get involved in some ill-advised behavior.

The drink that the short promotes also has its sensual pleasures, particularly for lovers of Campari, like me. The fact that I’ve been getting free bottles lately from a shadowy representative of the aperitif really doesn’t enter it. (Really!) I love the stuff. And, since Campari’s flavor largely dominates today’s drink, I also pretty much love today’s drink. Let’s check it out.

The Killer in Red

3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. chamomile gin or standard dry gin
3/4 oz. Cinzano 1757 Bianco (or another bianco)
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1 drop of rose water or rose essential oil (if you can find it)

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Drink of the Week: The Honeymoon Cocktail

The Honeymoon Cocktail.Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, and you’ll probably want a drink. If you’re lucky in love, and perhaps have recently tied the knot with that special someone, today’s truly old school classic cocktail might not be the worst way to celebrate the fact. And if, like so many of us, Cupid’s arrow has had more than a bit of a sting to it, it’s pretty much guaranteed to take the edge off.

The Honeymoon Cocktail recipe appears in numerous places, but I’m pretty much taking my recipe entirely from Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.” As the legendary Dr. Cocktail notes, it dates back to around 1917 and eventually became a favorite at the Brown Derby restaurants that were among the go-to nightspots of Hollywood’s mid-century heyday. It definitely has a bit of show biz panache to it, while being a relatively simple drink to make. The main question here seems to be whether you prefer the American or French version of its base spirit.

The Honeymoon Cocktail

2 ounces apple brandy (American apple brandy or calvados)
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/2 ounce orange curacao or Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 lemon twist (garnish)

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Drink of the Week: The Liar’s Cocktail

The Liar's Cocktail.It’s Super Bowl weekend, but I’ve got bigger things on my mind…

You see, we cocktail writers like to make a big deal about the names of cocktails and why we choose particular ones to write about at certain times of the year or to reflect something in the news of the day. (Like, say, the Super Bowl, which I know I’m ignoring. I’m not a sports fan, so I forgot about it. Sue me.)

However, I’m here to tell you that there’s absolutely no reason at all why I randomly chose the Liar’s Cocktail on this particular occasion. There’s absolutely nobody famous or well known or the most powerful person in the world who has repeatedly misrepresented easily provable facts again and again and again. And that person does not have people going on news programs and repeating or obfuscating those untruths again and again and again… and bullying them when they dare to question them. Nope, I can’t think of anyone like that, and if I did, that person probably would be known to be a non-drinker and a germaphobe.

Even though it’s therefore entirely irrelevant in terms of its name, the Liar’s Cocktail is a decent little beverage that provides some honest boozy flavor. See what you think.

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Drink of the Week: The White Negroni

the White Negroni.I’m thinking that this weekend, in particular, you could use a drink and, of course, you’ve come to the right place. That will be particularly true if you’re looking for an interesting variation on an old favorite of ours, the Negroni. Now, the White Negroni is a drink that people have been making for quite some time, but the thing is, there are so many versions you can’t really say what it actually is. The basics are the same — some gin, some sweet type of vermouth and a more bittersweet aperitif — but the actual ingredients and proportions are so varied from recipe to to recipe that it seems like everyone who makes this drink has their own personal White Negroni. This will be mine, I suppose.

Most recipes use Suze, which I’ll have to try at some point, but I was recently gifted by a good friend with Salers, a really enjoyable, bittersweet white wine-based beverage that is sometimes used in White Negronis. It took more than a little experimentation to come up with my version, and I’m still not sure I hit it quite right, but I think this recipe should be fair to middling tolerable. See what you think. If not, well, there a bunch of other recipes online. One of them should be outstanding!

The White Negroni

1 1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce bianco vermouth
1/2 ounce Saler’s
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1 lemon twist (desirable garnish)

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Drink of the Week: The Toronto Cocktail

The Toronto Cocktail.Last week’s drink might have been a bit uncertain when it came to its geographical underpinnings, but this week’s is pretty clear that it’s an homage to Canada’s most populous city, a place I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting. The Toronto Star traces its origins to a 1922 cocktail book written by a London-based bartender who claimed the drink was a favorite of Torontonians but noted that the province of Ontario had its own version of prohibition between 1916 and 1927. Moreover, there’s no other¬†known connection between the drink and the particular city it’s named for. That being said, it’s a truly worthwhile classic cocktail that can stand proudly beside any other city-named drink you can think of.

In any case, this version of the Toronto Cocktail comes, once again, from David Embury’s 1948 “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.” Depending on how you look at it, it’s a variation of an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Since I prefer to make this one on the rocks, I’d say it’s more the latter than the former. Try it for yourself.

The Toronto Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Canadian or rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Fernet Branca
1/4 ounce simple syrup or, if you don’t have that, 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar
1 dash Angostura/aromatic bitters
1 orange twist (high desirable garnish)

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