As I sit here a four day weekend 100 miles from my basement bar is staring me in the face. What to pack? Don’t want to over pack, don’t want to under pack and be at the mercy of host’s bar. Whatever you’re bringing needs to be versatile, mobile, and it must play well with others.
I’m headed to my Father’s house. Fortunately he will have plenty of gin and bourbon, as well as a variety of dusty liqueurs and a weathered bottle of Angostura bitters. I would venture to guess his stock is similar to what you’d find in many basement bars. Just with more gin and bourbon. That being said, certainly not everything you need for a four day weekend.
I’ll be poolside for much of the weekend, but night caps and eye openers will also be required. I could lug Cointreau, Absinthe, and Lillet down to go with the gin for my eye opening Corpse Reviver. Follow that with a series of Dark and Stormy talls, a case of Goslings ginger beer and rum later, how will I have room for the pre dinner Aviation makings and night cap Manhattans.
I’m a solutions oriented guy, so here’s the solution:
Eye opener; 1 to 1 Campari to Dolin, adjust to fit your palate.
Poolside? Poolside on Independence Day? Why an Americano of course; 1 to 1 to 2 parts Campari, Dolin, club soda.
To garnish the first I’d do a swath of orange, for the second, an orange wheel or three. I like the Spanish Bitters in each. Heavier in the eye opener, just a couple dashes in the Americano.
What about the night capper? Well, remember that gin I mentioned? A classic Negroni; 1 to 1 to 1 of our three players. Spanish Bitters to finish. And if the fireworks aren’t delivering, flame the orange for a finale.
I chose the Spanish Bitters for this weekend because they work well in the above drinks, but also in a Gin & Tonic or martini in case those are called for and I want to add a twist for the drinker.
Additionally, by going this route I also ensure that after a sixxer of Bell’s Two Hearted tonight, when my dad wants to switch to Manhattans, I know the vermouth will be fresh, because I brought it.
But most importantly, you arrive with only two bottles, no hassle, no strange looks, no scene. Yet, you can make all the above cocktails, and many more.
More you say? Yes. Take for example the Esquire Cocktail a 1 to 1 to 1 to 3 part ration of Aperol, liqueur, lemon, base spirit. Now, you’ve packed Campari, so that’s going to pack a bigger punch than Aperol, but if some wisenheimer cousin or brother in law starts talking cocktails and you want to show who the family cocktologist really is, give it a spin. I’d suggest pairing Dad’s bourbon, that crusty bottle of Benedictine, some lemons you saved from drowning in sun tea, and the Campari, with a splash of the Angostura or Spanish Bitters. Shake it up, or if you’ve finely strained the juice, you could even try stirring this one. It may not be the smoothest sipper, but it’ll put any naysayer in their place.
If you aren’t looking to over rattle your cocktologist’s saber, try the Golden Ratio by Jamie Boudreau. 1.5 parts spirit, .75 parts vermouth or other modifier, .25 parts liqueur or amaro. This ratio produces many fine cocktails. Simply use the vermouth you brought, the gin or bourbon available, and a quarter ounce of one of those dusty liqueurs.
So there you have it. Toss a bottle of Campari, some bitters, and a not too complex sweet vermouth in your bag and you’ll be ready to enjoy this long weekend in true cocktologist fashion.