I'm currently enamored of "cocktails" - those mixed marvels of juices and spirits, liqueurs and bitters which first saw their heyday in the 1930s, when Prohibition-era bartenders had the chance to practice their art with quality spirits, instead of the bathtub brews of earlier days.
Where we're located in Oakland, we're around 2 miles, as the crow flies, from the St. George Spirits/Hangar One distillery. I've raved about them before, so I won't go into details, but I credit them with a huge part of the resurgence of the "cocktail" in these parts. And to be honest, I think we in the Bay Area are paving the way for the rest of the country with bars like Bourbon & Branch, Rye, Cantina and Alembic -- let alone the incredible mixologists at restaurants like NoPa, Absinthe and even Bar Cesar.
Like I said, the cocktail is making a comeback.
What I love most about cocktailing is how it mimics cooking: take a base flavor, season it, add a spice or an herb (maybe both?), all the while paying attention to texture and balance. Thing is, cocktails provide instant gratification, and of course there's that delightful little buzz at the end.
My friends and I talk often about our affection for cocktailing, and how to play with the nearly endless variety of ingredients. In fact, one lovely lady's Limoncello has played a starring role in a LucianoDrop recently, while another's gift of a stunning shaker inspired a fanciful concoction only yesterday. But it was today's professional coups, both C's and mine, which led to the creation of tonight's most excellent cocktail.
- Juice of one Ruby Red Grapefruit
- Juice of one Tangerine (a blood orange may be substituted)
- 1.5 oz Campari
- 1.5 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
- Champagne or other dry sparkling wine, chilled
- Shake the first 4 ingredients vigorously with ice until frothy.
- Fill your champagne flute 1/3 full with juice mixture
- Top with fizzy good stuff (aka, bubbly, aka sparkling wine)
This will make 3 - 4 cocktails depending on how much juice you get out of your citrus; I suggest having enough on hand to make more than you think you'll need, because these babies go down way easier than you might expect.
If you're the garnishing type, you can pulverize some dried tangerine with sugar for a nice rim; I suggest dipping first in Campari, but you might prefer the sweetness of St. Germain. Salut!