After the detours of the holidays and Mixology Monday, we now resume our normal weekly cocktail schedule. And we are happily back at “work”. As for this week’s cocktail, it certainly checks a lot of our boxes for how we choose drinks. Seasonal ingredient? Check. Excuse to try a new type of booze? Check. Not too boozy? (it’s January, we’re a bit pickled from the holidays) Check….Oh, and does it tastes really good? Check.
The Blood on the Adriatic combines blood orange juice, Amaro Montenegro and Aperol, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. It is easy to make, uses the blood oranges that are in season, is barely stronger than a glass of wine, looks beautiful (IMHO)…and packs a lot of complimentary flavors. We based this cocktail off of the Adriatique Cocktail from Jackson Cannon at Boston’s Island Creek Oyster Bar.
Serious Eats wrote this cocktail up a while ago and we loved it, with the sweet, acidic orange juice playing well with the herbal and bitter Amaro and the citrus and rhubarb of the Aperol. But both of us immediately thought the cocktail would be better (at least for us) with the more tart, berry-ish complexity of blood oranges. And we think we were right. The tart, acidic berry flavors add to the sweet orange and balances the bitter notes. This cocktail is very refreshing and has a wonderful aroma. And we will admit that we just love the color.
As for the ingredients, you can find blood oranges in most good produce or farmers markets this time of year. We tend to prefer the deeply colored Moros, but all blood oranges will have that berry-ish flavor. As for Amaro Montenegro, it is a type of Italian “Amari”, a family of bittersweet, herbal liqueurs and digestifs (here is a good intro guide). Amaro Montenegro is one of the more “accessible” Amaro, it is sweeter and less bitter than most, with complex herb and honey notes and only about 25% alcohol. Aperol is basically Campari’s sweeter, lighter, and less bitter, boozy and “ashy” cousin. Aperol has lots of sweet citrus and rhubarb flavor with a bitter finish. Both the Aperol and Montenegro are good introductions to more bitter-flavored cocktail ingredients.
While these may seem like disparate flavors to put in a cocktail, they all share a similarity. Each has sweet notes on its own, but is balanced by another flavor. Blood oranges have the tart berry flavors, Amaro Montenegro has herbal notes and the Aperol adds more fruit and a bitter finish. When you put them together you get a sip that starts with tart, moves to sweet, fruity and herbal and ends with a clean, slightly bitter finish. And for all that flavor, this cocktail is way less than half-strength, so you can have more than one. Good stuff? Check.
- 1 oz. blood orange juice
- 1 oz. Amaro Montenegro
- 1/2 oz. Aperol
- Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass, coupé or flute. Serve.
- Seasonal Sips: Aperol Spritz (o.canada.com)
- Mixology Monday Cocktail: Alone, Bitter at the Beach (putneyfarm.com)
- Ingredient of the week: blood oranges (o.canada.com)
- A Few Christmas Cocktails (putneyfarm.com)
- Averna Amaro Winter Cocktail – The Sicilian Sleigh Ride (manoavino.com)