Amaro/Amari Feed

Deceptive Drinking -- The Part-Time Lover

"Part Time-Lover" was a huge hit for the great Stevie Wonder.  Truth be told, if you're going to talk about 1980s pop songs with the word "lover" in the title, I prefer "Easy Lover" from Phil Collins and Philip Bailey (from Earth, Wind, and Fire; he also happened to sing backup on "Part-Time Lover").  Stevie Wonder didn't create this cocktail.  Instead, the Part-Time Lover is a creation from Jon Weimorts in Los Angeles.

Part-Time Lover1.5 ounces blanco tequila
.5 ounces Aperol
.5 ounces elderflower liqueur or super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the passion of a (you can figure out the metaphor, right?), and strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon garnish optional.

Just as the catchy upbeat vibe of the song belies its sad substance, the smooth taste of the Part-Time Lover belies its strength.  The tequila provides the subtle kick beneath the bitterwsweet Aperol (a lighter, less potent amaro with an orange taste) and the sweeter elderflower liqueur, e.g. St. Germain (a key ingredient in the Flower of Normandy), or super simple syrup. Weimorts uses elderflower liqueur because it adds more flavor to the Part-Time Lover.  If you don't have or want to get that, super simple syrup does quite well.

Have a full-time fun cocktail and drink a Part-Time Lover.


Unsung Cocktail Heroes -- Bitters, Vermouth, and Liqueurs

Reading about unsung cocktail heroes is good, but why read when you can listen?  Eric Kozlik, the CEO of Modern Bar Cart, interviewed me for his podcast.  It was a great experience. Here's our conversation about bitters, vermouth, and liqueurs (it's episode #8).        

Modern Bar Cart podcast 2Eric has interviewed a lot of really interesting people about some great cocktail subjects, so I encourage you to listen to the other episodes. I've learned a lot by listening to them. You probably will, too.  The podcast is a wonderful example of connecting over cocktails.  Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den and I met Eric at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans, and we reconnected at an event in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

Our podcast episode (you can listen below) covers a lot of topics such as how James Bond disrupted the Martini, and what I would order if I could drink with my late grandfathers. We also discussed general cocktail categories such as amari (bitter liqueurs), and specific cocktails like the Manhattan, the Ward 8, and the Derby.

If you listen to the episode, keep this in mind -- I wasn't kidding.  I have walked alone through the yard of a maximum security federal prison.  No, I was not incarcerated. Want to the hear the story? Buy me a good cocktail.


Across The Globe -- The Intercontinental

See the world through a drink.  Traveling to other countries makes you realize how good you have it (I'm speaking to you, my fellow Americans), and you'll realize there are many things that unite us -- like a high quality cocktail.  The Intercontinental is one of many examples.  Thanks to Imbibe magazine for introducing me to it.

Intercontinental1 ounce brandy
1 ounce Averna
.5 ounces Luxardo maraschino liqueur

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the sexy and sophisticated demeanor of a world traveler, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange garnish optional.

The original Intercontinental recipe calls for Cognac, but use whatever brandy you prefer.  Keep in mind all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac (it is all torched Dutch grapes).  Brandy can come from anywhere, e.g. the pisco in a Pisco Sour comes from South America, but Averna and Luxardo maraschino liqueur only come from Italy.

I've had the good fortune to travel to various parts of the world, and I've embarrassed my wife, aka Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, in many countries.  We believe in trying the local stuff.  We've had good experiences, e.g. Mekhong, a Thai "whiskey" (it is the base of the Mekhong Manhattan), and bad, e.g. Turkish beer.  Either way we're richer for the experience.

Have passport, have liver, will travel.

 


Bombs Away -- The Brown Bomber

Brown bomber 1The drink is not explosive or dangerous, unless you have too many of them.  It is a tribute to Joe Louis, the late American heavyweight boxer.  Known as the Brown Bomber, Louis was the reigning champion for 140 consecutive months in the 1930s and 1940s, and he had 23 knockouts in 27 title fights.  Talk about staggering numbers (literally, if you were in the ring with him).  Jim Meehan at PDT in New York City created the Brown Bomber, and this is my variation on the recipe on the Whiskey Writes website.

2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces dry vermouth
.5 ounces Averna or Campari

Brown Bomber 2Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the deliberate force of a boxer dismantling their opponent, and strain into a coupe glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.

Most versions of the Brown Bomber call for bourbon or rye, Lillet Blanc (a French aperitif), and Suze (a Swiss gentian root liqueur).  I substituted dry vermouth for the Lillet Blanc, and Averna or Campari for the Suze, because I prefer those liquors.  If you use Campari instead of Averna, the resulting cocktail will be more bitter.

The Brown Bomber isn't far removed from a Boulevardier in that both cocktails have a whiskey base, include vermouth, and contain an amaro such as Campari.   Similarly, the combination of whiskey and dry vermouth is reminiscent of a Scofflaw, so if you like one you'll probably like the other.

If you want a boxing relating drink that's sweeter but just as strong, try my pugilecello.  The Brown Bomber isn't sweet. But like its namesake, it is powerful and classy.


Argentina and Broadway -- The Eva Peron

Eva Peron 1Eva Peron, better known as Evita, was and still is a controversial figure in Argentina's history.  She ascended the social ladder to become the wife of Juan Peron, the President of Argentina in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  In addition, she's the subject of the eponymous Broadway musical (there's also a surprisingly good film adaptation starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas).  I did not discover this cocktail in Argentina, but on the Kindred Cocktails and Imbibe magazine sites.

1 ounce Fernet Branca
1 ounce Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur (see below)
1 ounce sweet vermouth (I recommend Carpano Antica)
Juice from 1/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the passion of dancing the tango, and strain into a chilled glass.

Eva Peron 2Argentines love Fernet Branca, perhaps because so many of them have Italian heritage.  In my opinion no Argentina related cocktail would be complete without it. I've had the good fortune to travel to Buenos Aires, and I had many great experiences there, e.g. dancing the tango  with my wife in a milonga (tango hall).  If you're interested in Evita related sites, the Museo Evita is informative, and you can see her family's mausoleum in the fascinating Recoleta Cemetery.

The original Eva Peron recipe calls for adding a couple of ounces of ginger beer.  There's nothing wrong with that.  I simply wanted a cocktail that, like most other cocktails in the Den, is alcohol forward and contains no carbonation.  Also, the original recipe doesn't specify Barrow's Intense (full disclosure -- I am a small investor), but I prefer it because it has a cleaner and stronger ginger taste that anything else on the market.

Don't cry for me Wulf Den drinkers -- just have an Eva Peron.


Stealthy And Unexpected -- A Thief In The Night

Steal some fun! Commit larceny on your liver!  A Thief In The Night does both.  It has nothing to do with the Bible passage from which the phrase "a thief in the night" comes.  Instead, the A Thief In The Night is a creation from the people at Larceny Bourbon, who also created the Inside Job. Thanks to my bourbon aficionado friend Chuck for mentioning it to me.  I slightly adapted the recipe.

A Thief In The Night2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Averna
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.5 ounces honey syrup (see below)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the intensity of a burglar's pounding heartbeat, and strain into a chilled glass.

Averna is an excellent Sicilian amaro.  It is becoming easier to get in the United States.  I think it's quite good on its own, and it's a key component of cocktails such as the Lupara, the Amaro Amore, and the Lupo Voodoo.  As a practical matter, the A Thief In The Night essentially is a Midnight Train with honey syrup instead of super simple syrup.

So how do you make the honey syrup?  It's so easy even I can do it.  Heat equal parts water and honey in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until the honey dissolves (the mixture will retain the color), remove from the heat source, and then let the syrup cool to room temperature (wait at least one hour).

After you have A Thief In The Night, some of your liver cells and brain cells will be missing.  Better put their pictures on a milk carton.


Misbehaving And Messing Around -- The Hanky Panky

Tasting some forbidden fruit?  Thinking about doing something you probably shouldn't?  Regardless of the answers, the Hanky Panky might be for you.  The term dates back to the mid 19th century, and the cocktail is from the 1920s. Ada Coleman, a bartender at the American Bar at  the Savoy Hotel in London (it is brilliant in the British sense of the word -- see London Calling), created it for one of her loyal patrons.

Hanky Panky1.5 ounces dry gin (I used The Botanist)
1.5 ounces sweet vermouth (I love Carpano Antica)
2 dashes Fernet Branca

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the desire ignited when engaging in some you know what, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel garnish optional.

The Hanky Panky has the distinction of being the first gin cocktail in the Den.  I've discovered a couple of gins I like in that they don't taste like a pine cone.  The sweet vermouth and Fernet Branca act as counterpoints to the gin, so the result is a nicely balanced drink.

Modern definitions vary slightly, but the term frequently arises (pun intended) in a sexual context, e.g. the 1966 song "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James and the Shondells.  You may notice a recurring theme with certain cocktails in the Den, e.g.  the Hanky Panky, the Between the Sheets, the Passion, and the Intense Ginger Sutra.  Infer as you like.


Another Cure For Cancer -- The Cancer Killer #2

Cancer KillerSometimes good things come in pairs.  Earlier this year I created the Cancer Killer #1 in honor of my friend Stephanie, who defeated breast cancer last year.  As my wife noted, breasts come in pairs, so it made sense to create a second Cancer Killer cocktail.  I wanted this one to be undeniably pink so there would be another way to drink pink to save the ta-tas.

2 ounces vodka (I like Zyr or Belvedere)
1 ounce Cointreau
.5 ounces Campari
1-2 dashes orange bitters

Cancer Killer #2Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the conviction of giving cancer the fatal one-two punch, and strain into a chilled glass.

The Cancer Killer #2 substitutes vodka and orange bitters for the rye and Angostura bitters in the Cancer Killer #1.  Some people don't like rye or brown liquors in general, but chances are they will drink a cocktail with a vodka base.  Also, it's pretty much impossible to have a pink cocktail with a rye base.  That's not a problem with the Cancer Killer #2, as the bold red of Campari blends nicely with the clear vodka and Cointreau.

A word of caution -- be careful with the bitters. The first time I made the Cancer Killer #2 I used Regan's, which is quite strong and came close to overpowering the drink.  My suggestion is if you have strong bitters use one dash, and if you have something a little sweeter, e.g. Angostura orange bitters, use two dashes.

Want to cure cancer?  Have the Cancer Killer #1, the Cancer Killer #2, or both.  My friend Stephanie and others like her thank you.


Southpaws and Mobsters -- The Left Hand

The Left Hand honors Lefty Ruggiero, a key character in the underrated crime movie Donnie Brasco.  Johnny Depp stars as an undercover FBI agent who, known as the movie's titular character, infiltrates a New York City mob family.  Al Pacino plays Ruggiero, a mobster who unwittingly acts as a conduit for Brasco.  I discovered this drink in Scott Deitche's book Cocktail Noir.

Left Hand2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces sweet vermouth (I recommend Carpano Antica)
.75 ounces Campari
2 dashes chocolate or mole bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the coolness of being among made men without being made as a rat, and strain into a chilled glass.

The Left Hand is a Boulevardier with chocolate or mole bitters.  The original uses mole bitters.  I know chocolate and mole are not exactly the same thing, but you're not going to go wrong with either one.

Donnie Brasco is very good at the depicting the tension and strain of operating as an undercover agent.  This scene is an example.   For movies with a similar theme, I highly recommend The Departed and Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong movie upon which The Departed is based.

So what does the word "southpaw" have to do with this cocktail?  Southpaw is slang for a left hand.  The etymological origin of the word is hazy.  A prevailing theory is that the term originated in the 19th century.  At the time some baseball diamonds were laid out so home plate was on the west side (this kept the sun out of the batter's eyes), so a left handed pitcher's arm would hang south.  This means a left handed pitcher would use his "south paw."  For an entertaining cinematic soliloquy, watch Rocky Balboa explain it to Adrian (click here).

Even if you don't care about southpaws or mobsters, the Left Hand is a fine cocktail.  Capisce?

 


A Cure For Cancer -- The Cancer Killer #1

Cancer sucks.  Fortunately people can and do beat it.  My friend Stephanie is one of those people.  Last year she learned that she had breast cancer.  When that happened I promised her I would create a cocktail when the cancer was gone.  After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, Stephanie triumphed.  A new year and a cancer free diagnosis deserve a new original creation -- the Cancer Killer #1.

Cancer Killer #12 ounces rye
1 ounce Cointreau
.5 ounces Campari
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in shaker with ice, stir with the inspiring defiance that Stephanie and others show when they fight cancer, and strain into a chilled glass.

In a way the Cancer Killer #1 is a commissioned cocktail.  I'm not comparing myself to Michelangelo, nor am I comparing Stephanie to one of the Medicis.  I asked her to tell me the flavors she preferred in a new cocktail.  She mentioned rye and orange.  Immediately I thought of Cointreau because it is made from oranges.  I added Campari because it is the harshest of the amari (bitter) liqueurs.  The treatment for cancer can be downright brutal, and Campari is a reminder of that bitterness.

The Cancer Killer #1 will not really cure cancer (that should keep the FDA off my back).  However, it happily fulfills my promise to Stephanie.  In addition, it is an excellent cocktail to celebrate those who defeat cancer, and those who are working to defeat it.  Death to cancer!