Drink of the Week: The Rockford

Image ALT text goes here. If you’ve seen the movies you know that James Bond drank, kind of a lot. If you’ve read the books, you know there are times when James Bond drank and drank and then drank some more. If you’re a fan of “The Rockford Files” you know that Jim Rockford wasn’t a teetotaler but wasn’t anyone’s idea of a cocktail afficionado…but since he’s found himself in 1970s L.A., where Harvey Wallbangers, Long Island Ice Teas, and Sex on the Beach mostly ruled, it’s pretty hard to blame him.

Still, I’d like to think that Jim Rockford would really enjoy the Rockford, the drink I’ve been working up here at DOTW Manor and have decided to name in honor of the now sadly deceased film and TV legend, Mr. James Garner. It’s light, brisk, tasty, super-refreshing, a bit bittersweet, and actually not too heavy on the booze — important if you’re not that much of a boozer and are also likely to run into two gunsels ready to gut punch everytime you turn a corner. If it looks a bit familiar, well, we’ll get to that after the recipe.

The Rockford

1 or 1 1/2 ounces dry vermouth
1 or 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
Soda water
Orange slice (garnish, highly desirable)

Build this one in a Tom Collins glass if you’re using 1 1/2 ounces of our main ingredients, or in a rocks/Old Fashioned glass if you’re using only 1 ounce. Pour the dry vermouth and Aperol — a light, fruity and somewhat bitter lowish-proof aperitif/liqueur that’s a huge favorite over here — over plentiful ice and an orange slice. Top off with the soda water of your choice. Stir, sip, and salute Mr. Garner and Jim Rockford. Two guys who might have really enjoyed this drink if they ever encountered it at the Chart House or Dan Tana’s, which they didn’t.

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If you really know your cocktails, you no doubt recognize the Rockford as a variation on the Americano , which combines sweet vermouth with very sweet but oh-so-bitter Campari. I love that drink with a passion and I also love coming up with variations on it, as in the Ugly Americano. My favorite weapon in this pursuit appears to be finding clever ways to substitute Aperol. I love it’s fruitiness and it’s mildness can be a real boon in the right circumstances. I actually tried a version of this drink with dry vermouth and Campari and the result was simply too bitter and not enough sweet, for me anyway.

Having perfected the drink, for my own preferences, anyway, it was time to think of a name. It was very orange so I began to think of things that were both American and orange. First, I thought of Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and then, for equal time, to the progressive website Daily Kos which just wrapped Netroots Nation (aka Comic-Con for lefty political junkies), and which is often referred to by friend, probably more than foe, as “the Great Orange Satan.”

Then, I got word of the passing of James Garner, whose only politics were far more Kossack than Boehnerite, and thought, heck. Why not salute the TV private-eye who blasted open all the cliches made so many of my high school, college, and post college evenings and afternoons whiz by? So, here’s to you Jim Rockford/James Garner. Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying your favorite beverage, whatever it is.

Rockford Files – Intro from Bret Leduc on Vimeo.

  

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Drink of the Week: The Ugly Americano

The Ugly Americano

I admit it, I’ve gone mad and, like last week, this one’s mine. Yes, I’ve gone mad with the power to create my own drinks — even if no one but me actually tries them — and a bit insane over how tasty this Aperol stuff I picked up a few weeks ago is. I can’t claim credit for the sweetly piquant liqueur’s first DOTW appearance two weeks back, the Aperol Americano, as it’s a common enough substitution. This week, however, I’ve changed things up enough that I think it’s possible that I can claim to have created a variation on a classic original.

This drink is, of course, based on the Americano, a real favorite of mine. I have, however, switched out the two main ingredients. Once again, I’ve replaced Campari with it’s milder but more complex cousin, Aperol. This time, however, I’ve also replaced ordinary sweet vermouth with Punt e Mes, a much bolder sort of vermouth with more than a hint of Aperol/Campari-esque bitter sweetness. It’s also often used as a substitute for vermouth in drinks like the Americano.

Even so, the particular drink below hasn’t been featured anywhere that I know of…though, come to think of it, it probably has been tried and written up someplace. I just hope I never hear about it, because I love this drink so much I want to hog as much credit for it as possible. That’s also why I’ve upped the proportions a bit from the typical Americano. For one thing, Aperol has less alcohol than Campari. More important, however, an Ugly Americano should be slightly excessive.

The Ugly Americano

1 1/2 ounces Aperol
1 1/2 ounces Punt e Mes
Soda water
Orange slice (highly recommended garnish)

Pour the Aperol and Punt e Mes over ice in a chilled Tom Collins/highball or similarly sized glass. Add the orange slice and top off with soda water. (Following the snobby practice of Ian Fleming, I used Perrier this time around, as it was on sale.) Stir for a moment and sip. Ummh, good.

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Yes, with this drink I throw all objectivity to the four winds. I pat myself on the back and follow it with a hearty, though weird, self-embrace.

That might be going a bit far in the eyes of others, but I really do think this drink has real potential. It’s sweeter than an Americano but I think it maintains its respectability by adding even more complexity than the original. Seriously, folks, this drink is so tasty I can’t possibly be the first person to have tried it. Right?

  

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