If you’re simply trying to warm up a little buzz to get you through the polar vortex, then by all means, just plop a generous dose of Rumple Minze into a pot of black coffee and you could get the job done.
You’ve got more class than that.
Stock & Barrel has three cocktails with lesser-known components to add a little spice to that cold-ass winter.
That mystery black stuff that you sometimes see your bartender doing a shot of with some favorite regulars? it’s not Jäger. It’s most likely Fernet Branca, just one of the endless styles of amari that have been slowly trickling into Ohio at a truly glacial pace (thanks, control state liquor laws). “Amaro” is Italian for bitter, and in this instance it refers to Italian herbal liqueur. Different styles of herbal liqueur—yes even Jäger—are popular throughout most of Europe and can vary dramatically, but for this piece we’re going to focus specifically on the Italian varieties that have been gaining popularity for quite some time. Sean Ward at Giuseppe’s Ritrovo uses two of these amari to great effect in The Bexley Buck.
He mixes Bulleit rye, fresh lime, a cranberry-ginger cordial, and a couple dashes of orange bitters with the previously mentioned Fernet Branca, characterized by intense bitterness, menthol, and a bunch of other flavors you wont quite be able to describe, along with Cardamaro, which is flavored with cardoon—kind of like an artichoke. If you choose to make this drink at home, hang on to both those amari bottles for post-meal consumption.
On the rocks, or neat there is nothing better than sipping a glass of these digestifs after a large meal.
The Bexley Buck
1 3/4 oz Bulleit rye
3/4 oz Cranberry-Ginger Cordial
1/2 oz Fresh lime
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
two dashes orange bitters
Shake with ice and strain over fresh ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Fresh Cranberry-Ginger Cordial
1 lb. of fresh ginger root
24 oz. (680 g) fresh cranberries
1 1/12 pints of water
1 pint of sugar
2 oz. grain alcohol (preserving agent)
Slice the Ginger into one eighth-inch chips, add a half pint of sugar to the ginger in a closed container, and let sit for 24 hours. The following day, bring the half pint of sugar, the ginger-sugar solution (w/ginger), and the water to a boil, then add the cranberries and bring it down to a simmer. Allow cranberries to burst, applying more heat if needed. With a slotted spoon, crush cranberries against side of pan during the simmer. Once crushed, remove from heat and allow to cool. Super-fine strain the solution into a few Mason jars and add the grain alcohol. Shake well and keep refrigerated.
Get ready for the takeover already in progress. For years Americans having equated Sherry with cheap wine for cooking, but it is slowly experiencing a renaissance with wine and cocktail enthusiasts. Suffice to say, you’re going to be seeing it a lot, on cocktail menus and served on its own. Here’s a little background to prepare you: Sherry is a Spanish fortified wine made from white grapes. There are a number of styles, which cover a wide range of flavors. On the lighter, drier side, you find Fino and Manzanilla. There’s Amontillado and Oloroso Sherry, which are exposed to oxygen during aging, giving them a rich, dark flavor profile. This brings us to the sweeter Pedro Ximenez, made from dried grapes, and cream Sherry, which is a blend of other styles.
Try a Fino to jump-start your appetite, and a Pedro Ximenez for dessert. This is just the beginning of the Sherry wormhole, but it should give you a good place to start. Speaking of good places to start, here’s a great cocktail to try at Curio. Then go home and make it for your weird uncle who only drinks Honey Brown.
2 oz. Town Branch rye whiskey
1/2 oz. of Lustau East India cream Sherry
1/2 oz. of Grand Classico.
2 dashes of Bar Keep baked apple bitters.
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
In the aged brandy world, Calvados is often the forgotten little brother of Cognac and Armagnac, but you might be pleasantly surprised if you give this apple brandy a chance. Hailing from Normandy, it’s distilled from a mix of sweet, tart, and bitter apples and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years. While great to sip on its own, it plays nice in a number of cocktails. Try the Honeymoon, a revived classic dating back to at least 1917, when it first appeared in print. The introduction of Benedictine into the mix is what makes this cocktail shine. The herbal liqueur, also produced in Normandy, is a natural companion to brandy—the company behind it also produces B&B, a bottled combination of the two—and a natural companion to the holidays, thanks to its flavor profile of over 27 herbs and spices and the sweetness of honey.
2 oz. Calvados
.5 oz. Benedictine
.5 oz. orange curaçao
.5 oz. lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.