Thursday, May 16, 2013

Classic Spirits Making the Cocktail Scene All Over Again

Everything old is new again...or so they say. In the cocktail world, it seems to be absolutely (no pun intended) true. Without a doubt, the resurgence of classic cocktails and/or craft cocktails is the reason for some old time, classic spirits making the scene again.

Having an ear that's occasionally tuned to the current trends in spirits, I sometimes enjoy hearing about what's "new" these days. Take Fernet Branca for example, it's so hot right now! Um...Mark and I started enjoying it in the early 80's while on a trip to Monte Carlo and the French and Italian Rivieras. Every meal was followed by Fernet as an after dinner digestif by tourists and locals alike. When we bid adieu, there was a bottle of Fernet tucked into our bags!

Then there's Campari. This is another spirit Mark and I enjoyed many years ago - back in the late 60's! These days, the Negroni is THE cocktail to make with Campari...and I DO love me a well-made Negroni. (Thank you Acacia and Shane.) In those days, we simply mixed it with tonic or (wish we could still find this one) Schweppes Bitter Lemon. Clean, crisp, bitter and thoroughly refreshing on a warm, sunny day, the Negroni just hits the spot.

And then there's sloe gin. If you think the late 60's were far back, it was the mid 50's when my parents were sipping their favorite Sloe Gin Fizzes while playing Five Hundred around the kitchen table with Aunt Anna and Uncle Bert. We kids would occasionally be treated to a sip (or two if we were quick!) of the nose tickling beverage. 

Sloe Gin is back in style, too. Not the Jacquins my parents used in their cocktails - that sweet, syrupy stuff wasn't even real, just artificial flavors and coloring. Now Plymouth gin makes a very fine version with actual sloe berries! Not sweet, but tart and a little bitter. And that gorgeous red is natural!

With all these new-again liquors (with memories attached for me), I've been experimenting. Here are the recipes for the successful results, along with the recipe for a classic Negroni. Mix one of these up for yourself and a guest and sip...and maybe even conduct a little cocktail trial and error of your own. Research can be such fun!

The Classic Negroni

Makes 1

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • a swath of orange peel

Gently stir gin, Campari and sweet vermouth in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel. If desired, serve over ice.


Makes 1

  • 1 oz. gin (I used Bluecoat)
  • 1 oz. Plymouth Sloe Gin
  • 1 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • a large slice of candied ginger (or smaller pieces on a cocktail skewer)

Gently stir gin, sloe gin and ginger liqueur in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with candied ginger. If desired, serve over ice.

Aloe and Sloe

Makes 1

  • 1 oz. gin (I used Bluecoat)
  • 1 oz. Plymouth Sloe Gin
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. sweetened aloe juice
  • barest splash of seltzer
  • a long ribbon of lemon peel

 In a cocktail tin, add gin, sloe gin, vermouth and aloe juice. Add ice 3/4 of the way up the tin. Cap tightly and shake until the tin is frosted on the outside.  

Strain into an ice filled cocktail glass, add just a splash of seltzer, give it just a gentle stir to keep the in the effervescence and garnish with lemon peel.  



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