Science Of Drink

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MWC: Arnaud Cocktail

5 March 2015 · 16 Comments

Well, as you might have gathered from my latest posts, I totally have a crush on rosso vermouth for now. I accidentally obtained at least one and a half literes of antica formula vermouths (Carpano Antica Formula and Cinzano 1757) and also I had to open at least two bottles of reference samples to scrutinize the red vermouth issue completely. So, I must explore them in whatever which possible way because red vermouth doesn’t keep for a long time, while letting those bottles spoil would be completely wrong and embarrassing.

However such maniacal focusing has at least one unwanted side effect – I tend to set aside my dear wife, to be more exact, her cocktail demands [because she as a rule doesn’t like all these herbal things so much]… And this, you know, might be rather wrong – she might decide to set aside my culinary demands ;) So, I always try to please her with something special. And sometimes I manage to do this not only with a Wild-Strawberry Margarita 8)

Arnaud Cocktail |

This curious vintage cocktail was found in The Museum of the American Cocktail Pocket Recipe Guide 2007 edition by Hess, Robert and Miller, Anistatia (2007, USA), that is, actually, one of my favorite cocktail handbooks. Every time I take this book to read I really admire the cocktail taste and erudition of the authors. It is an excellent and way too cute cocktail book.

Robert Hess and Anistatia Miller give rather a detailed story of this cocktail. The Arnaud was created in 1920s for a promo-company of Booth’s Gin, in which an idea of a star’s choice was explored. So, this cocktail was mixed for and devoted to a French-born English star of theater and cinema, a famous singer and a piano-player in those times Germaine Yvonne Arnaud (1890 – 1958). And I must admit it, she had a pretty refined taste :)

Arnaud Cocktail |

Arnaud Cocktail

30 ml gin
30 ml vermouth dry
30 ml creme de cassis
Stir well with a lot of ice than strain into a cocktail glass.

Actually, Arnaud Cocktail is not only my wife choice, it is definitely my choice too. In my opinion, it is an excellent after-dinner or brunch cocktail which has a ton of advantages.

First of all, Arnaud Cocktail is very elegant. It has quite a comfortable strength and a perfect balance (yes, it is very sweet, but not sickly sweet, you know). The taste is so composite, rich, similar to some exquisite desert wine full of berry, herbaceous and fruity notes. That’s absolutely obvious – the ingredients have plenty to enrich each other. Clearly the main peculiarity of the taste is a strong black-currant note adorned with a bunch of botanicals from gin and dry vermouth on a full-bodied sweet palate. Pretty good!

Also the Arnaud Cocktail has completely noble appearance. Using genuine natural well-crafted varieties of Creme de Cassis such as Crème de Cassis de Dijon, Crème de Cassis d’Anjou or even Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne, which, as a matter of fact, are AOC’s, you never can get a pinkish concoction. No way. Black currant is a black currant, and it was named that way definitely not by coincidence 8) So, with a quality liqueur you can obtain [not only a superb taste, but also] a very dark, deep red, almost black or dark-brownish cocktail so similar to rich red wine, probably with dramatic red hue. Gorgeous!

P.S. ‘MWC’ in the header of this post stands as My Wife Choice. It’s a series of posts devoted to my wife’s favorite cocktails. As a rule I also like these cocktail a lot ;) By the way, previous concoction in the series was Royal Hawaiian.

→ 16 CommentsTags: MWC (project) · Creme de cassis · Gin · Vermouth dry

Negroni Flip

26 February 2015 · 4 Comments

Well, being a happy possessor of two antica formula red vermouths, a bottle of Campari and a bottle of gin, I’ve practically forgotten all other cocktails for the past three weeks at least. As a matter of fact, I had a similar flash sometimes in the past, for example with such awesome cocktails as Manhattan, Clover Club or Mai Tai. You might have felt something similar – you discover a cocktail and just realize that there is no reason to drink anything else. You are enjoining this libation day by day exploring a ton of ingredient combinations, comparing favorite brands and experimenting with proportions or serving or garnishes, whatever. But sooner or later you also just understand that you should move on. And here you need something bright, something especial for closing the chapter.

So, for ending this Negroni flash I picked out the Negroni Flip – a modern curious Negroni-themed concoction that, as I could find out, had been created in a Seattle based restaurant Delancey. The recipe had been shared on about a year ago by, if I’m not mistaken, creators or just inspirators – Molly Wizenberg and Brandon Pettit. Actually, I’m absolutely sure, it is an exciting idea to combine two [of my favorite] cocktail things – Negroni and flip. I was really curious how it would work together.

Negroni Flip |

Negroni Flip

30 ml gin
30 ml sweet vermouth
30 ml Campari
7 ml rich sugar syrup (1:2)
1 whole egg
Add all the ingredients in a shaker and shake very hard without ice, then add ice and chill the cocktail. Strain into a tumbler and garnish with an orange peel.

This Negroni Flip turned out (as expected! as expected!) to be absolutely great! Everything is right in this cocktail – whole egg, as in a real flip (it’s known, that yolk has its own taste which actively forms a taste, not only a foamy texture), and a spoon of rich sugar syrup, which helps to combine whole Negroni with a whole egg and, in fact, makes the cocktail.

Negroni Flip has a distinguished sweet-and-bitter-herbal-savory taste with a bright recognizable bitter note of Campari, velvety herbal richness of vermouth and gin. Also it acquires a wonderful super-smooth texture from a beaten egg. As а result we have a velvety-smooth, well-balanced, bitter-sweet cocktail. An excellent cocktail, undoubtedly, or, rather, an excellent flip 8)

Negroni Flip |

Now, some words about ingredients. Negroni Flip was noted to need quite a powerful, potent gin (which can stand against a whole egg), and a similar vermouth. My ultimate choice in Negroni Flip is my new Cinzano 1757, which, thanks to its a magnificent bitter artemisia note, works here exceptionally well.

And finally I have to write something about raw eggs in cocktails. As I came to realize this is sort of a tradition to bring this kinda pep talk to readers about eggs in cocktails at the end of every such post :) So, let’s start: Don’t be afraid of them… eggs really can give us huge pleasure… but remember about salmonella (of course, of course…)… so… use only fresh organic eggs from a local farmer’s market … (you had better know the farmer for ages. What kind of stuff does he feed down to his chickens?)… or use pasteurized eggs… if you believe in pasteurization… or just rely on good luck… if you believe in good luck… or… read something much serious about that for example here 8)

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Campari · Gin · Vermouth sweet

Contessa Cocktail (and Negroni Antica Formula)

12 February 2015 · 13 Comments

Well, despite having quite a difficult time for cocktail blogging (my country is still under a villainous attack), I still continue my exploring of such a great phenomenon as the American Cocktail. However, today I am going to deal with two totally European (specifically Italian) things that had been a great part of an American Cocktail practically since the Golden Age. I am talking about red vermouth and one of the best cocktails which utilize it – Negroni Cocktail.

I have at least two big reasons to review my love for Negroni – one is getting an acquaintance with a pretty nice twist on a classic Negroni – the Contessa Cocktail and the other is a long-awaited testing of Carpano Antica Formula – one of the most celebrated sweet vermouths.

This post was started right before the New-Year’s Day while I was looking through my site stats (You see, sends a pretty cute yearly review every December). And I was really surprised that my last posts (I mean, posts that were written during the last few years) weren’t as popular as the earlier ones (about all kinds of stuff like Creme Brulee Martini, Long Island Iced Tea or Passion Cosmo :) Seemingly, my new, refined cocktail taste, which has been forming for years, does not satisfy an average reader… But similar things I notice also with my guests, when trying to share with them my latest favorite concoctions. Actually it does not bother me that much ;) , but sometimes I am thinking of, you know, popularizing of the cocktail culture, so I should be ready to offer my guests something more acceptable as an entry point in a wonderful world of True Cocktails.

Negroni and Contessa |

There is usually no problem to offer such a drink to a newbie if we speak about highballs, sours or tikis. But if we speak about aromatic cocktails, it seems to be an issue. Especially it is difficult in case of Negroni – undoubtedly, one of the best aromatic cocktails in the world.

Obviously the main challenge of aromatic cocktails is a combination of strength and bitterness. And we must admit it, not all people are ready to take it up 8) At any rate – from the first sip (but, probably, many of them would be ready for a second one, if only the first wasn’t SO bitter ;)

Thus, this challenging bitterness of Negroni, which is considered as its main merit by the connoisseurs, might be an insuperable difficulty for a newbie. Maybe it sounds grotesque to somebody, but it is a bitter truth in the case of Negroni 8) It contains a significant amount of Campari – a palatable bitter from Italy, which, by the way, wasn’t banned even during Prohibition as a result of its strong bitter taste. No joke!

That is why I guess it is so important to have some trick or some secret that will be able to make your favorite Negroni slightly more palatable (but not worsen it!) for your dear newbie but still so enjoyable for you 8) And, it seems, now I’ve found such a trick! 8)

Contessa and Negroni Cocktail |

As a matter of fact this is absolutely easy and obvious – just switch “the Great and Powerful» Campari to a thing, that sometimes is defined as baby-Campari, – the Aperol.

Campari and Aperol are pretty similar – both are classified as aperitif, both are based on some herbal stuffs – herbs, roots, citrus fruits etc. Finally they both have a bright red color! And they both have an unique rich bitter-sweet taste which encapsulates great Italian lifestyle feeling. So, even though they have different bitterness and alcohol content, they have similar style.

I tasted this switch in the Contessa cocktail, the recipe for which I had found on Serious Eats a long time ago. But it may be not an original idea – there are many bartenders who come up with this trick. So, this name is relatively nominal.

Aperol Negroni aka Contessa Cocktail |

Aperol Negroni aka Contessa Cocktail

30 ml gin
30 ml sweet vermouth
30 ml Aperol
Stir with ice and strain over a large ice cube into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

I think, the best definition for Contessa Cocktail is a bland Negroni. As for me, it is still a good Negroni because it still is a rich, bitter-sweet, full of herbs, botanicals, species, velvety smooth aromatic drink. The only difference is an absence of a challenge 8) But if it is necessary, you can explore No Baloney Negronianother Aperol Negroni version from Camper English ;)

As I could ascertain Contessa cocktail was an universal favourite with many people, who usually didn’t enjoy aromatic cocktails, especially women. So, this cocktail gave me an opportunity to share my love for Negroni with some people I love 8) Perfect!

And finally I want to say some words about a true classic Negroni, especially about the red vermouth in it.

Negroni Cocktail Antica Formula |

Can you belive it, that in spite of being a huge fan of aromatic cocktails, especially Martinez, Negroni, Manhattan, I have never tasted such an exciting and famous rosso vermouth as Carpano Antica Formula? Actually this vermouth is absolutely unavailable on the Ukrainian market as well as in the duty-free shops that were visited by my wife 8) So, I always contented myself with available rosso vermouths – such as Martini & Rosso, Cinzano and Gancia and, I’m pretty sure, I always obtained good results [Certainly I avoid using cheap local vermouths or suspiciously cheap brands]. But, of course, I had been dreaming about Carpano Antica Formula for a long time.

The reason of this long-term dreaming was so obvious. A vast majority of American cocktail bloggers, bartenders, enthusiasts consider Carpano Antica Formula the best rosso vermouth in the world and the most authentic ingredient for many classic vermouth libations, especially Manhattan [even though it is vermouth alla vaniglia – a slightly different kind of vermouth than a regular rosso vermouth di Torino]. So, I could not slur the fact over and I must have made quite an effort to obtain this legendary vermouth and scrutinize it. I was extremely curious whether it could bring something new and unique to my beloved cocktails. I started with a Negroni Cocktail.

The Negroni Cocktail |

Negroni Cocktail

30 ml gin
30 ml sweet vermouth
30 ml Campari
Stir with ice and strain over a large ice cube into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Before describing my impressions of a Negroni Cocktail with Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, let me point out some main Negroni characteristics which make a Negroni Negroni. Strong bitterness. Herbal richness. A powerful palate full of botanicals. A well balanced bitter-sweet drink. Theoretically, a difference between two good Negronis may be attributed to the peculiar properties of gin / rosso vermouth. Also, the sweetness of vermouth matters. Being a protagonist of an ancient cocktail feeling, or, in simpler terms, having a sweet tooth, I prefer cocktails balanced on the sweet side and, consequently, I love really sweet sweet vermouth in my cocktails 8) Thus, I’ve preferred Gancia Rosso in my Negronis for a long time.

Well, getting back to the point, the Negroni Cocktail with Carpano Antica Formula vermouth was perfect! So rich. So flavorful. With a palate full of herbs, roots and, well, beans ;) With an extremely pleasant vanilla note. Great! But… You know… It wasn’t greater than my regular Negroni with a Gancia Rosso 8) Rather different, yes, great, but not better. And I don’t think that it is something bad ;)

Negroni Cocktail |

As it often happens, life made my cocktail adventures even more interesting – as soon as I possessed the Carpano Antica Formula I suddenly ran into another fancy red vermouth product – Cinzano 1757, so I had a great opportunity to organize a real «Antica Formula» red vermouth contest 8) [As a matter of fact an Ukrainian label of Cinzano 1757 vermouth contains such a signature, also the Gancia Rosso Vermouth label has signatures «1850» and «Antica Ricetta», so, they match this contest too ;)]

Straight up, on the rocks or in the Negroni – neither could let me pick a winner. In fact, as such a cool vermouth adept as Martin Doudoroff notices, there isn’t a champion platonic ideal :) At least all of these three «antica formula» vermouths are great products which give rich, deep, powerful, very aromatic cocktails. So cool. So distinguished. Just as I love 8)

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→ 13 CommentsTags: Aperol · Campari · Gin · Vermouth sweet

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