• Gin, Tonic And Campari

    Gin, Tonic and Campari.

    Gin, Tonic and Campari.

    August. The Dog Days of Summer. It’s hot. Vacation, beach, family. Time for a drink or six. But what to drink? If you want to geek up, then tiki is a good pace to play. Punches are always welcome when you have a crowd and need an easy, tasty drink. But for many of us, summer means beer or a highball (a big, easy drink in a tall glasses with ice). And while there is nothing wrong with an ice-cold beer this time of year, we can’t seem to stay away from the bar for long, and that means highballs. And if we are drinking highballs it’s most likely a gin and tonic. (Although a Florodora is another option worth making, btw.)

    gtcgtc2We do love a gin and tonic, and it is often our default drink when we are traveling and aren’t sure about the quality of drinks we may get. After all, Tanqueray, Canada Dry tonic and a squeeze of lime are available from the Arctic Circle to the Congo (even in Brooklyn). Along with a Scotch and Soda (the other classic highball), you should be able to get a decent GnT almost anywhere on the planet.

    gtc1gtc4But just because we can get one almost anywhere doesn’t means we don’t like to play around with classics, and the GnT is a very open field. You can play with the gin, the tonic, the citrus or even add some “other stuff”. As for gin, there are almost too many options to consider, but we still like Tanq, simply because it is tasty, available and predictable. As for tonic, this is a good place to experiment, but Canada Dry still wins many taste tests with Fentiman’s and Fever Tree also doing well. We like all three, but the sweeter Canada Dry still plays well with the juniper-heavy flavors of Tanqueray. Feel free to play around, almost any combination will be good, but some will truly sing. It is worth finding a combination you like. As for the citrus, just stick with lime, trust us.

    gtc5gtc6But then there is the “other” stuff. And in this case, we mean Campari. At times, we have a love/hate relationship with that bright red, bittersweet booze. But when you put about 1/4 ounce (or a bit more) of the stuff into a Gin and Tonic and add a bit more lime juice, you get something close to perfect carbonated pink lemonade…with booze. We don’t understand the alchemy, since there is no lemon (directly) involved, but who cares? This is a great drink. And the warmer it is, the more refreshing it gets. Perfect for August.

    gtc7So where did we hear about this drink? Frankly, we have no idea. But it must have come from somewhere. We did find a funny article from a few years ago about this cocktail, and it worth a read. But it didn’t add a new name to the drink. It is still just a Gin and Tonic with Campari. But that is good enough for us, and we couldn’t come up with a good name anyway, although we were tempted to call this the “Blushing Preppie”. Maybe with a dash of bitters we can change the name….

    gtc8Gin, Tonic and Campari:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. dry gin (Tanqueray)
    • 1/4 oz. Campari
    • 3-4 oz. tonic water (Canada Dry)
    • 1/2 lime

    Assemble:

    1. Add a bunch of ice to a tall glass. Squeeze the lime juice into the glass and add the spent lime shell into the glass. Add the gin, Campari and tonic. Stir and add a straw, if you like. Serve.
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  • Weekly Cocktail # 54: The Putney Farm Negroni

    negroni

    The Putney Farm Negroni.

    We have heard that the real-world definition of stupidity is to fail at something and then repeat the same action over and over. And yet, here we are again, trying to find a variation of the Negroni that we enjoy. Stupid? Maybe. But the key word here is “variation”, we keep trying new formulas, gins and sweet vermouth with the hope we can break through. And finally we broke through. We found a Negroni recipe we truly love. So were we stupid to keep trying? No…..Tipsy? Maybe.

    negroni7negroni5Why all the effort? The Negroni is a classic cocktail loved by many aficionados that we respect. If they love the drink so much, maybe we can find a version we like. And the formula makes perfect sense, herbal gin, sweet vermouth, bitter and fruity Campari and that beautiful color. Depth, complexity, beauty- what’s not to like?  Well, for us, the problem has been flavor. Too bitter, too ashy and yet too sweet at the same time. There is alchemy in a good Negroni (or any great cocktail), but we were not finding it.

    negroni6negroni4We played with different gins, but be it Tanq or Plymouth or Bluecoat, they didn’t seem to be the problem. As for the Campari- we can play with the ratios, but you need Campari for a real Negroni (although you can sub for it and get a great cocktail). So the last variable was the sweet vermouth, and this was where we have spent much of our time. We love the Carpano Antica, but it was too strongly flavored and brought out the ashy notes of the Campari. Dolin and M&R just seemed sweet and lost to the Campari. But then we got some Cocchi Americano Rosa and we found our answer.

    negroni3And even this may be a bit of a hack. Cocchi Americano Rosa is technically an Americano, a type of quinquina (aperitif wine with chinchona / quinine), but it is an easy substitute for sweet vermouth. What makes the Cocchi work better for us is its combination of bright fruit flavors and bitterness from the quinine. Think very good sangria, with slight bitter notes. The Rosa is lovely to drink on its own with some ice, but in cocktails that call for sweet vermouth, it brings lighter and brighter flavors. A fun ingredient to play with.negroni9

    When we tried the Negroni with the Cocchi Americano Rosa, it was very good, and the bitter flavors of the Cocchi and the Campari were surprisingly complimentary. But we did want to capture more of the fruity notes of the Cocchi, so we took out a bit of the Campari. As for the gin, a very clean and bright gin like Bluecoat or Plymouth are our favorite here, and we put in a bit more to boost the herbal notes (and because we always like more gin). As for garnish, the traditional orange peel works well. Continue reading