Cocktail Creativity

I think about work and food most of the time when I’m working out. Lately, I’ve been thinking about ice cream recipes, dessert ideas, and ideas for cocktails while listening to a book and running a few miles. No surprise then, when on Thursday, while working up a serious sweat on the treadmill, I had this idea for a cocktail—something with gin, vermouth, and the arancello rosso from Letterpress. So, once I got home, after starting some dinner prep, I tested it out, just as Skip came in the door. I told him my idea and we both realized that he’d had the same idea a week or so ago. His proportions were different than mine and I’d added a squeeze of lemon juice. My version was good but we both thought it could be better and more interesting. And, with that, our Friday night cocktail and pizza turned into cocktail development (complete with blind tasting) while the dough did its thing.

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My first version had 1.5 ounces of gin, a ½ ounce of Dolin blanc vermouth and arancello rosso, and 1/8 ounce of lemon juice with a few dashed of orange bitters, garnished with some lemon peel. It was good but not great—it had a really weak, uninteresting finish, and was a little sweet. Then, we replaced the lemon juice with grapefruit juice and the orange bitters with grapefruit bitters; this was too sweet for both of us and really sort of boring. Skip had the idea to try a dry vermouth rinse with the proportions and garnish of the first version. The orange really came through and it was pretty tasty; that rinse added a wonderful, surprising complexity. But, something was still a little off. We tried one more variation with more gin and a grapefruit garnish—eureka! Perfect! The cocktail had more botanical character because of the increased gin, the orange flavor was subtle, the grapefruit garnish provide a lovely citrus note that played well off the orange and gin, and the rinse gave the drink a lovely finish. We were both pretty happy with this little beauty that shows off some delicious local things–Captive Spirits Distilling’s Big Gin, Letterpress Distilling’s Arancello Rosso, & Scrappy’s Bitters.

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The Collaboration

2 ounces Big Gin
1/2 ounce Dolin blanc
1/2 ounce Letterpress arancello rosso
1/8 ounce lemon juice
A few dashed of Scrappy’s orange bitters
Dry vermouth rinse
Grapefruit peel for garnish

  • Chill a cocktail glass while you mix the drink.
  • Add the gin, Dolin blanc, arancello rosso, lemon juice, and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass filled with ice. Stir with a bar spoon (or chopstick!) for about 30 seconds.
  • Add a little dry vermouth to the chilled cocktail glass and swirl the glass to coat with the vermouth. Discard the vermouth.
  • Strain the cocktail into the prepared cocktail glass; twist the grapefruit peel around the bar spoon. Do this over the cocktail to disperse the oil from the peel on the surface of the drink.
  • Add the garnish to the cocktail and enjoy!

If you try it, let me know what you think.

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