Sampling Speakeasy

All of these wine posts made me thirsty for a cocktail.  Fortunately, my friend Dushan recently gave me a copy of his book Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined and I tested a few of the recipes yesterday.

First up, the Americano

Few things quench your thirst in summer like Campari.

Americano
1 1/2 oz. Campari
1 1/2 oz. Dolin Rouge Sweet Vermouth
1 orange half-wheel (I cheated and used what was already at the bar)
3 oz. club soda

I shook the Campari, vermouth and orange, poured it over fresh ice, topped with club soda and added a fresh orange garnish.  Some fun facts from the book:

*this drink was first created in the 1860s at Gaspare Campari’s bar in Milan.  It was originally named Milano-Torino for its two main ingredients: Campari from Milan and Cinzano from Turin.

*this drink inspired the Negroni.

*Americano is the first cocktail that James Bond orders in the novel Casino Royale (long before he orders a Martini).

Next up, Secret Crush

Secret Crush
5 oz. Llopart Cava Leopardi brut rosé, divided (I didn’t have any rosé Cava open, so I used Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace rosé)
1 raw brown sugar cube (I only had white)
4 or 5 dashes Angostura bitters
3/4 oz. Campari (yes, I’ll be drinking a lot of this this summer)
1 lemon twist

Pour 1 1/2 oz. of sparkling into the flute, saturate the cube with bitters and place it in the flute.  Wait a moment, then top off with Campari and the balance of sparkling.  Garnish with lemon twist.

The book describes this cocktail as sexy and I couldn’t agree more.  Look at it.  If you think you don’t like Campari, this will change your mind.

Then, the New York Sour

New York Sour
1 3/4 oz. rye (he suggests Rittenhouse 100, I used McKenzie)
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. dry red wine (I used Malbec)
1 orange half-wheel
1 brandied cherry

Shake the rye, lemon and simple with ice.  Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass, float the wine on top and garnish with the orange and cherry.

In 2003 this cocktail made it on to the opening drink list at Schiller’s, the year before Dushan opened Employees Only.  The origins of the drink are unclear, though the best guess seems to be that it’s a Prohibition-era favorite, as the lemon juice, sugar and wine would have camouflaged the crap, watered-down whiskey available at that time.  When made with tasty ingredients, however, this drink is pretty killer – rye dominated backbone, with added structure from the red wine, but balanced by the citrus and a kiss of sweetness.  Quaffable and aesthetically pleasing!

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