This month's Mixology Monday theme is "Amaro", chosen by none other than co-author Chuck Taggart over at Looka. What an interesting topic; there are tons of amari, all different and many of them quite mixable. They range from light herbal vermouth-esque liqueurs to real monsters of bitterness, like Campari, Fernet Branca (the legendarily bitter drink that'd be a punchline more than a tipple if it weren't so complex and beneficial), and Malört.
I picked one somewhere in the middle -- Amaro Ramazzotti. (I also picked it because it's an ingredient in "Amer Boudreau", Jamie Boudreau's replication of the incredibly-hard-to-find Amer Picon. So if I make some of that, then I can have Picon Punches and Bywaters. I need to get on this, I think.) It reminds me of a good sweet vermouth, like a Vya or Punt E Mes, or Carpano Antica Formula, and that make sense -- it's Italian-made, intensely herbal, with a sweet note on top of all the bitter funkiness underneath.
My first thought was to try something with rye and Cherry Heering, as kind of a Manhattan variation. I was also thinking of chocolate-covered cherries, and kirsch-filled chocolate bars, and decided that it might be really interesting with the Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters (which are unique and excellent) but then Chuck posted the wonderful-looking Eagle Rock cocktail, featuring rye, sweet vermouth, amaro, Cherry Heering, and mole bitters. Foiled! It was time to regroup.
Casting an eye over the rack of bitters in my kitchen, I pulled out a few candidates, and after a few false starts and mishaps (like when the orifice restrictor in the bottle of lemon bitters came off with the cap, and I unknowingly poured about two ounces of bitters in my mixing glass -- gawp!), I came up with something I liked. I kept going back and forth about which bitters to use: was it better with lemon and rhubarb? Or with lemon and cherry? Cherry and rhubarb? Well, why not all three? (I'm sure the Fee Brothers would approve.)
And, if Chuck could name a cocktail after his neighborhood, then I can name one after mine. It's pan-ethnic, and a little bit spicy, much like my Queens nabe. (Yes, I know there's an Astoria cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail Book, but it's essentially a dry Martini. Good, yes, but not evocative of the place. Perhaps that Astoria cocktail is named after the Waldorf=Astoria hotel, and not so much my corner of northwestern Queens.)
- 1 oz. rye whiskey (I used the Rittenhouse 100; if you're using the baby Saz or another 80-proof, you may want to up the amount a little)
- 1 oz. Amaro Ramazzotti
- 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
- 2 dashes lemon bitters
- 2 dashes rhubarb bitters
- 1 dash cherry bitters
Stir with ice for at least 60 seconds until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a flamed lemon peel.