Friday Night Cocktails: Negroni


As with many cocktails containing the ingredient Campari (the liqueur whose carmine red color was originally derived from a dye made of crushed cochineal insects!) the Negroni is a love-it or loathe-it drink due to the ingredient’s bitter edge. Campari haters will find the drink too bitter, but Negroni lovers (of which there are many) gravitate toward the drink’s bittersweet complexity.  It's an excellent cocktail to have before a large meal (it is said that bitters stimulate the appetite) and also feels like a perfect cocktail to serve on Christmas due to its festive hue.

While the identity of the drink's inventor is disputed, it is most frequently attributed to the Corsican general Pascal Olivier de Negroni in the late 1800’s.  The consensus is that it was created as a more potent spinoff to the traditional Italian aperitif the Americano which contained soda water, campari, and red vermouth.  As the drink gained popularity, the Negroni Family capitalized on this with their Negroni Distillery in Treviso, Italy where they developed and marketed a pre-mixed version of the cocktail. 

Americans became more familiar with the Negroni when Orson Welles, in a 1947 US interview, reported back about a cocktail he'd been served in Rome while filming Black Magic:  "The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other."

Negroni

1 oz Gin
1 oz Red Vermouth
1 oz Camparia

Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice, add the ingredients above, and stir until cold. Run a bit of orange peel around the rim to release its oils and add it to the drink as a final garnish.

Friday Night Cocktails: Widow's Kiss

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Originating in 1895, the Widow’s Kiss is notable for containing not one, but TWO liqueurs created by monks:  benedictine and yellow chartreuse.  It gives the drink an herbal intensity that combined with the warmth and spice of Calvados (apple brandy) is hard to beat on a cold night.  

I have a strong sense memory associated with this drink as the first time I had it was after returning to my NYC apartment in "SoPo" (South of Power Outage) once the electricity had been restored to the part of lower Manhattan most affected when Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012.  It’s an aptly named, heart-warmer of a cocktail. 

Widow’s Kiss

Over ice in a mixing glass combine and stir the following:

1.5 oz Calvados (Apple Brandy)
3/4 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse (or 1/2 yellow and 1/2 green as a variation)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and wallow

Friday Night Cocktails: Blood Orange Margarita

The first few weeks of January can feel stark in comparison to the glitz of the holiday season, but there is a remedy for this:  BLOOD ORANGES.  They are available widely in the US starting in early January and accessible through February and sometimes even longer. They are quite simply the most beautiful fruit and when cut open their interiors range from coral to raisin colored (or more accurately, the color of dried blood) and they produce a tart-sweet juice that is the perfect mixer with spirits.  It makes any cocktail jewel-toned and the vitamin C it contains feels right this time of year.

I am a margarita purist and accept only two variations - The Blood Orange Margarita in winter and the Jalapeño Margarita in high summer.  In the case of the blood orange version, it is the perfect cocktail to drink and serve during deepest winter to accompany the events of the season like awards shows, football playoffs, the Super Bowl, and Valentine’s Day.

Blood Orange Margarita
(makes 4 drinks - or more if serving over ice)

8 oz Blood Orange Juice (squeezed from 4-5 blood oranges)
3 oz Lime Juice (squeezed from 3-4 limes)
8 oz Silver Tequila
3 oz Triple Sec**

**(for a drink with a lower alcohol content and fewer calories, agave syrup to taste may be substituted for the triple sec)

Spread some kosher salt on a small plate.  Cut a lime and run the lime wedge around the rim of four glasses and then swirl the rim of each glass in the plate of kosher salt to give it a salted rim. Combine ingredients listed above in a measuring cup or pitcher, shake with ice and distribute among the four glasses:

Edible Rhody - The Drinks Issue!

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So excited to have my Friday Night Cocktails close out Edible Rhody's Drinks Issue on their "Last Bite" page! My second collaboration with them, Edible Rhode is part of the "Edible" series, regional quarterly magazines that do an amazing job highlighting local food makers and farmers.  Full of original recipes, ideas, and stories, they are an amazing resource for anyone who wants to learn more about their local food scene and be inspired. 

Friday Night Cocktails: Paloma


Spanish for “dove,” Paloma is a poetic cocktail that rivals if not surpasses Mexico’s other famous cocktail, the Margarita, in terms of popularity in its country of origin.  The cocktail is often made simply by combining tequila blanco with a grapefruit flavored soda like Jarritos or Squirt, but if you’re looking for a fresher, less glycemic hit, a blend of fresh grapefruit juice, seltzer, and agave syrup will do the trick.  It’s a refreshing, bordering on virtuous cocktail (I always associate grapefruit with healthy living) and a great compliment to Mexican food.  

Paloma
(makes one)

1/4 cup tequila blanco, reposado, or mescal
1/4 cup pink or white grapefruit juice
1 TBSP fresh lime juice
1 tsp agave syrup, sugar, or simple syrup
pinch salt or salted rim
1/4 cup seltzer

Rub a bit of fresh grapefruit around the rim of a glass tumbler and dip the rim in kosher salt the way you would a margarita.  If you don’t like salt on the rim, add a small pinch to the bottom of the glass as it intensifies the other flavors.  Fill salt-rimmed tumbler with ice.  Combine 1/4 cup of tequila blanco, 1/4 cup of fresh pink grapefruit juice, a teaspoon of agave syrup, and a tablespoon of fresh lime juice and pour into glass.  Top with seltzer and fly away on the wings of the dove.

Friday Night Cocktails: Aviation

 

The Aviation is the cocktail to have when you aren’t sure what you should be drinking.  Another gem from the Prohibition Era, its the cocktail for that moment of indecision, when you can’t seem to read your own mood or sort through conflicting thoughts.  Just mix up one of these and you’ll be transported up and away (as the name suggests) to a higher and clearer plateau.  This is the drink I served to a dear friend when she was anxiously awaiting to hear how her mother’s surgery went.  It’s the drink I made myself to calm my nerves before accompanying a different friend as her date to her office holiday party - no ordinary office or ordinary party though, as she works for CNN and the party was at the private residence of her boss, who happens to be Anderson Cooper.  You’ll know you’ve made the drink correctly if the resulting color is one you can’t easily name - a sort of undulating violet-grey-blue reminiscent of something you might see in the stratosphere from an airplane window or in the eyes of Anderson Cooper.  

**A note on ingredients:  This drink calls for Maraschino Liqueur which is clear in color, not red like a maraschino cherry or the juice from a maraschino cherry jar.  It has a taste all its own, a grown-up and complex sweetness that is essential in this drink and its green cocktail-cousin, The Last Word.  I prefer the look of this cocktail when its un-garnished.  The recipe itself is in perfect balance and the addition of a lemon twist or cocktail cherry (two common garnishes for this cocktail) I think disrupt both the visual appeal and flavor profile of the drink.

Aviation

(makes one)

2 oz gin
2 teaspoons Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz Creme De Violette

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake to chill well, then strain into a cocktail glass.  Drizzle the Creme de Violette into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

 

Friday Night Cocktails: Manhattan

After a long week there is nothing better on a Fall or Winter night than the first sip of an expertly made Manhattan while surrounded by good friends. Intoxicating in every sense of the word, it's a cold, complex rush of flavor and aroma, especially when served up in a martini glass.

I developed a deep affection for this cocktail while living in Manhattan.  It's a drink that will always be synonymous with that period of my life because its also when I met my boyfriend, John, and developed a deep affection for him too.  It's his drink of choice year round and I've yet to be served a Manhattan that rival's the ones he makes.  Here's how he does it:

Manhattan (makes one)

4 oz Bourbon

1.5 oz Sweet Vermouth (I like Carpano Antica vermouth)

2 dashes of bitters

1 cocktail cherry

A few hours before you might want a very strong cocktail, run a martini glass under running water and put it in the freezer to chill.  Later on, fill a Yarai mixing glass or the can of a metal cocktail shaker with ice, bourbon, vermouth, and bitters.  Using a bar spoon, stir the contents of the glass until thoroughly chilled (longer than you think).  Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a cocktail cherry.  It's worth upgrading on the cherries you use as garnish here since it imparts quite a bit of flavor to the drink, but the ubiquitous maraschino has never let me down either.

Friday Night Cocktails: South Side

Its Chicago's South Side that this classic drink is named for where Al Capone and company enjoyed this drink which craftily incorporates lime as a way of masking the harsh edge of bootlegged gin. 

I fear my bias toward gin is becoming evident in this series of paintings, but you'll thank me for the inclusion of this one, which is reminiscent of a mojito or gimlet, but with an added complexity due to the Angostura Bitters (thank you, Trinidad, for your country's delicious bitters). And we can all thank the Prohibition era for yielding another classic cocktail well worth making today.

South Side (makes one)

4 oz Gin

3/4 oz Lime Juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

two sprigs of mint

A few dashes of Angostura Bitters

Fill shaker half full with ice and add gin, lime juice, and syrup, one of the mint sprigs and the bitters. Shake until the shaker is too cold to hold/frosted over, then strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the other mint sprig, play this song, and knock it back.

Friday Night Cocktails: Aperol Spritz

If you've never tasted Aperol you can think of it as the less bitter, less alcoholic little sister of the other Italian aperatifs like Campari and Cynar.  It's the perfect drink for late summer because when added to a glass of prosecco or club soda and garnished with an orange wheel it takes on the appearance of the summer sun in liquid form.  Refreshing, beautiful, perfect, much like summer itself.  **Fun trick: For maximum optical pizazz, freeze Aperol in ice cubes and add to glasses of sparkling wine or sparkling water.

Aperol Spritz

Fill a wine glass with ice, top with 2 oz Prosecco, 1&1/4 oz Aperol, and a splash of soda water.  Garnish with an orange slice. Watch the sun set in your glass.

 

 

Friday Night Cocktails: Planter's Punch

If you've spent time in Provincetown, MA then chances are good you've had a Planter's Punch; the popular drink served at the Boatslip Resort's afternoon Tea Dance.  It's the type of place where a drink is mixed and poured for you by someone whose name tag simply reads "GOGO," as was my experience on a recent visit.  This cocktail is a rum punch in no uncertain terms and this particular recipe was probably devised sometime in the 1970's (a murky period in mixology).  But, what this drink may lack in sophistication it makes up for in taste and potency.  The Boatslip's crowning touch is to pour Bacardi 151 (as in 151 proof!) down the straw.  The first sip is lethal and these go down dangerously easy due to their fruit juice content.  This is a drink to have on vacation when driving is not involved and you have no plans for the next day. There is nothing better to sip after a day in the sun while watching the sun set over the bay.  Soundtrack suggestions to recreate the Boatslip's atmosphere while imbibing: Yacht Rock, Solid Gold Hits, Deborah Cox.

Planter's Punch

Fill a cheap and disposable plastic cup with ice.  Add equal parts silver/white rum and spiced rum, equal parts orange juice and pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.  Garnish with what's known in the bartending world as a "flag" (maraschino cherry + orange slice).  Finally, add a drinking straw to the mix and without too much fuss pour the Bacardi 151 down the straw as best you can.  DRINK SLOWLY.

 

 

Friday Night Cocktails: Caipirinha

It may be the national cocktail of Brazil, but Caiparinhas are enjoyed all over the world.  The cocktail's base spirit is cachaca, a liquor often compared to rum. Because of this and the shared ingredient of lime juice, the Caipirinha is often thought of as a cocktail-cousin to the Mojito.  The distillation process for the two spirits is notably different though:  where rum is typically derived from sugar by-products like molasses, cachaca is distilled from fresh sugarcane which gives it a character and purity of its own. You can also find aged cachaca which has a brown hue, but I prefer using the clear version here as it makes for a prettier drink. 

Caipirinha

(makes one drink)

Cut half of a lime into 4 wedges and combine it with 1 teaspoon sugar in the bottom of an old fashioned glass.  Using a muddler (or the end of a wooden spoon) mash the sugar and lime wedges together to dissolve the sugar and create a marriage of sweet lime syrup.  Fill the glass with ice and top with 2.5 oz Cachaca.

 

Friday Night Cocktails: White Lady

Another perfect summer drink, the White Lady is a classic, but under the radar cocktail that falls into the category of a "sour."  By definition, a sour abides by the formula of a spirit (gin) + citrus (lemon juice) + sweetener (cointreau - an orange liqueur).  Margaritas fit into this category as do Whiskey Sours and many other popular classics.  Many recipes call for a higher proportion of gin, but I think that equal parts gin/cointreau/lemon juice makes for a smoother summer drink.  For added effect a raw egg white may be shaken along with the other ingredients which will give the drink a lovely white cap of foam.  Because this drink has no garnish serve it in your fanciest glass for maximum Ladies Who Lunch effect. 

White Lady

(makes one)

1 oz gin

1 oz cointreau

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

sugar syrup to taste (optional

1 egg white (optional)

Combine all ingredients over ice in an ice filled martini shaker.  Shake until the shaker is too cold to hold and then strain into a martini or coupe glass. 

 

Friday Night Cocktails: Moscow Mule

In the heat of high summer, a cocktail's refreshment quotient is important.  The Moscow Mule's combination of spicy ginger beer and lime zing delivers a sharp awakening of the senses.  In its gleaming stay-cold copper vessel, its the perfect cocktail for toasting late July.

Moscow Mule

(makes one

  • Fill a copper mug or highball glass with ice
  • Add the juice of a half lime and 2 oz of vodka
  • Top off with ginger beer to taste and garnish with a lime wedge
Trivia:
Legend has it that the copper mug became synonymous with the Moscow Mule when, John G. Martin, co-inventor of the drink, traveled to different bars across the country to promote Smirnoff vodka and gain notoriety for the drink.  At each stop, Martin would request the bartender pose for a polaroid holding Smirnoff vodka along with the specialty copper mug.  Martin would take two polaroids, leaving one behind with the bartender for display at their bar, and the other would go into a photo collection that he would then show to the next bar on his itinerary as convincing evidence of the Moscow Mule's quickly spreading popularity.  As with the Mint Julep cocktails' silver cup, the copper mug is an essential component of the Moscow Mule cocktail experience for three good reasons:  tradition, aesthetic, and practicality -- it keeps the drink cold!

 

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Friday Night Cocktails: Shirley Temple

Because I am under the weather this week and on alcohol prohibiting medication, it seems a logical time to feature the original and still the best mocktail:  a Shirley Temple.  I was first served this drink at a now closed Chinese restaurant in Morristown, New Jersey called, romantically, The August Moon.  What the drink lacks in alcohol it makes up for in sweetness and garnish.  It must have at least a maraschino cherry, but additional kid-friendly garnishes like lemon, lime, and orange slices are welcomed here.  The added bonus of a cocktail umbrella (or party parasol as the ones I purchased were titled) is that it gives children something to play and fiddle with while the adults have their boring conversations. 

Fun Fact: 

Temple herself was not a fan of the drink, as she told Scott Simon in an NPR interview in 1986: "The saccharine sweet, icky drink? Yes, well... those were created in the probably middle 1930s by The Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood and I had nothing to do with it. But, all over the world, I am served that. People think it's funny. I hate them. Too sweet!"

Shirley Temple

(makes one drink)

Fill a glass with ice, add a splash of grenadine syrup, and top with ginger ale or lemon-lime soda.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry.  For a Dirty Shirley, add a shot of vodka. 

 

 

Friday Night Cocktails: Pimm's Cup

Pimm's Cup is how the Brits beat the heat while watching Wimbledon each summer.  Its a refreshing combination of sliced fruit, cucumber, and Pimm's No. 1, a spicy and herbal gin based liqueur.  Because its fairly low in alcohol, its a perfect cocktail to drink while sitting in the sun watching tennis or any summer sporting event.  

Pimm's Cup (recipe adapted from Zara Findlay-Shirras)

Combine Pimm's No. 1 liqueur with sliced strawberries, lemon, and cucumber in a large container and allow the flavors to marry a while.  Ladle a cups worth of the mixture into a glass with some ice and top off with lemon soda (Sprite or Pellegrino Limonata) and a sprig of fresh mint.  If your favored player is losing add gin. 

 

Friday Night Cocktails: Cosmopolitan

Although frequently attributed to Carrie Bradshaw and her SATC squad, the Cosmopolitan was a popular drink in gayborhoods like San Francisco and Provincetown during the 1970's and 80s.  The drink possesses the beauty and sophistication of a martini (served in the same glass), but with a more easy-drinking feel.  A lemon twist or lime wedge are logical garnishes as they reflect the flavors in the drink, but a more authentically old school way to finish the drink is with a bit of orange peel flamed over the top with a match.

Cosmopolitan (makes one)

1.5 oz citron vodka

1 oz Cointreau

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

dash of Cranberry juice

coin sized piece of orange peel

Method:

Combine first four ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake until the outside of the shaker is frosty and strain into a martini glass.  Light a match, then with your free hand pick up the orange peel with your thumb and index finger being careful not to bend it.  Position the orange peel and lit match above the drink, now bend the orange peel to expel its oils igniting them across the surface of the drink. 

Friday Night Cocktails: Margarita

There are many bad margaritas being served out there so the key is to be discerning.  Words to be skeptical about when mentioned in association with a margarita:  "Rose's lime juice," "sour mix," "orange juice," "gold tequila."  These ingredients are often used by large chain restaurants and bars and leave much to be desired because too often they yield a cloying, overly sweet drink and a bad hangover.  Silver tequila (aka blanco) is a purer form of tequila that hasn't been aged.  Good quality silver tequila has a smooth or sometimes smokey flavor that pairs beautifully with fresh citrus.  In my experience, margaritas made with silver tequila and lots of fresh citrus are the least likely alcoholic beverage to give me a hangover.  I don't know why this is and I have no scientific proof, but I do know that when we consume alcohol our body is often left with a depletion of vitamin C.  Perhaps the fresh lime juice in the drink helps to offset this? 

MARGARITA (makes one)

2 oz silver tequila

1/2 oz triple sec or cointreu, grand marnier or other orange liqueur.  Alternately, you can omit the orange liqueur entirely and increase the simple syrup (or agave syrup for preference) to 3/4 of an oz.

Juice from 1/4 of a juicy lime

1/2 oz simple syrup

dash of water

kosher salt or sea salt poured into a plate (for the rim of the glass)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add all ingredients to your shaker with the exception of the salt.  Run the juiced lime rind around the edge of your glass (use a martini glass or a rock's glass if serving over ice) and dip the rim of the glass into kosher or sea salt that you've poured on a plate.  Shake the ingredients until the shaker is too cold to hold and strain the contents into your salted glass.  Serve up or on the rocks.   (note: if you don't like a salted rim, be sure to add a pinch of salt to your drink because the salt is crucial in creating the right balance of sweet and sour.)

 

 

Friday Night Cocktails: Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

My only stipulation for this drink is that it must have enough garnishes to make it resemble a salad in a glass.

(makes 1)

In a collins glass combine the following:

1.5 oz vodka

2 oz tomato juice

1 tsp worcestershire

tsp prepared horseradish

1 pinch salt

a few dashes hot pepper sauce

1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice

Fill a second glass with ice cubes, pour mixture into glass with ice, then pour contents back and forth between glasses to thoroughly mix.  Garnish with a celery stick, lemon wedge, olive, pickles, bacon etc etc.

Friday Night Cocktails: Old Fashioned

Don Draper's drink of choice, this is a cocktail for the macho man and macho woman.  The Old Fashioned, like many cocktails, has a divisive following.  In its original form the drink consisted of whisky, Angostura bitters, and a small amount of sugar.  Along the way a citrus peel was added and the drink was sometimes garnished with a fruit slice and or cocktail cherry.  More recently, the drink often includes the addition of muddled fruit - usually a citrus peel or wedge and a cocktail cherry. Its served in a short tumbler glass which we now refer to as an "Old fashioned glass," named after the cocktail.

Old Fashioned (makes one drink)

2 oz Rye Whiskey

4 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 sugar cube (or 1/2 tsp sugar)

dash of water or club soda

Optional: orange or lemon peel, cocktail cherry

1.) Drop a sugar cube or 1/2 tsp of sugar in the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass.

2.) Add a few dashes of Angostura Bitters and a dash of water or club soda to dissolve the sugar.

3.) Swirl the glass around so that the dissolving sugar and bitters mixture coats the bottom and sides of the glass. 

4.) Add a large ice cube to the glass, pour the Rye over it, stir and enjoy.

Optional:  For a fruitier approach, muddle a small piece of lemon or orange rind and a cocktail cherry with the bitters and sugar during step 2.  Yes, you can be fruity and macho at the same time.

Friday Night Cocktails: The Last Word

It was Mint Juleps they drank in the Great Gatsby, but I often associate The Last Word cocktail with the famous book.  This may be because the color of the drink, a mysterious chartreuse, is evocate of the green light that beckons Gatsby.  Similarly, The Last Word has its origin during the Prohibition era.

It’s a strong drink, and not an inexpensive way to get drunk, but its a classic cocktail for a reason:  there is a complexity to its sour-sweet and herbaceous structure that feels perfectly balanced.  Its best feature though, is how easy the recipe is to remember – 4 ingredients in equal parts.

The Last Word

(yields one drink)

1 oz Gin

1 oz Green Chartreuse

1 oz Maraschino liqueur

1 oz lime juice

-Fill a cocktail shaker ¾ full with ice, add ingredients, shake and strain into a coupe glass.