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.
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)
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)