FEATURED RECIPE

Spring Negroni

Spring Negroni
📷

GIN AND STRAWBERRIES WITH CAMPARI AND SWEET VERMOUTH

I have the luxury of being able to get my hands on exceptionally delicious strawberries from a stand at the Los Angeles farmers’ markets called Harry’s Berries. When I arrive at the stand on Saturday mornings, there is a long line of people waiting to buy their berries even before they open—and the berries aren’t cheap. The line remains until the last of the strawberries are sold.

I use those berries in a few different ways, including in this cocktail, which is a Negroni (gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth) with the addition of strawberries and other spices. To make the cocktail, you pour the premade Spring Negroni Mix over ice and garnish with a twist. Super easy, so a super choice for a party.

INGREDIENTS

Glass:

  • Double old fashioned

Cocktail:

  • 3 ounces Spring Negroni Mix (see below)

Garnish:

  • An orange twist

Directions

  1. Rub the outside of the orange twist on the inside rim of a double old fashioned glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour the Spring Negroni Mix into the glass. To garnish, squeeze the orange twist over the cocktail to release the oils and drop the twist, shiny side up, on the cocktail.

SPRING NEGRONI MIX

The next time you see a basket of ripe, delicious berries, make a batch as a way to preserve the season. You can buy rose petals, sold as “rose petal tea,” at any tea store.

Makes about 28 ounces (3½ cups)

  • 1 cup American gin
  • 1 cup Aperitivo (see below)
  • 1 cup Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 pound strawberries (about 16 medium to large), hulled and chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rose petals
  • ¼ vanilla bean

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Using a small knife, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds out of the pod, and add the seeds and pod to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; be careful that the flame isn’t so high that it can travel around the sides of the pan, as the alcohol in the pan will catch fire. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently until the strawberries become whitish in color, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a chinois or cheesecloth into a bowl, pushing down on the solid ingredients with a ladle or wooden spoon to extract every last drop of flavor from them, and discard the solids. Transfer to a bottle or jar and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours, or for up to 1 month.

APERITIVO

GRAPEFRUIT AND GENTIAN WITH CINCHONA, CASSIA, AND BLACK CARDAMOM

Campari is a popular Italian aperitivo (apéritif in French and often the word used in English) and the base of many Italian cocktails, the most popular being the Negroni. Making my own Campari was a super “bar geek” sort of thing. First because there’s nothing at all wrong with store-bought Campari. But I wanted to make something more natural, something more round, something less aggressive, and absolutely something without artificial coloring. (Originally Campari was colored with a natural dye extracted from crushed beetles; today it is colored with an artificial red dye.) Unlike many liqueurs, whose flavors are widely known, the mix of flavors in Campari is a mystery. What does it taste like? You get the bitter gentian root, the bittering agent in all Italian amaros, right in your face; the rest of the flavors are very subtle and soft. I tinkered with this for a long time to get something that I was happy with. It wasn’t easy, but I was obsessed. This has beautiful flavors and isn’t quite as bitter as Campari. I color it with beet. but the beet is optional. Note that if you don’t use it, you will have an almost colorless aperitivo.

Makes about 1 liter (4 cups)

  • 2¼ ounces orange rind in wide strips (peeled with a vegetable peeler from about 3 oranges)
  • 1½ ounces grapefruit rind in wide strips (peeled with a vegetable peeler from about 1 grapefruit)
  • 1½ teaspoons shredded rhubarb root
  • 1 gram cassia bark
  • 1 tablespoon gentian root
  • 1½ teaspoons cinchona bark
  • 1 teaspoon black cardamom pods (about 3)
  • 1 teaspoons angelica root
  • ¼ teaspoon dried lavender
  • 2½ cups grain vodka
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1¼ cups water
  • ¾ ounce peeled raw purple beet (one 1-inch cube; optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut a 12-inch-square piece of cheesecloth and put it on your work surface. Put the orange rind, grapefruit rind, rhubarb root, cassia bark, gentian root, cinchona bark, cardamom pods, angelica root, and lavender in the center. Close the bundle by bringing the corners toward the middle and tie a knot with the cheesecloth to seal it closed.
  2. Combine the vodka, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan. Add the cheesecloth bundle and heat the liquid over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes; be careful that the flame isn’t so high that it can travel around the sides of the pan, as the alcohol in the pan will catch fire. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. If you are using the beet, add it to the pot. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 12 hours to steep the flavors further. Remove the pot from the refrigerator and remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle and the beet. Transfer the aperitivo to a labeled bottle and close; it will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 months.

From BAR CHEF: HANDCRAFTED COCKTAILS by CHRISTIAAN RÖLLICH.

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