Thursday, May 26, 2011


1 1/2 oz Death's Door Gin
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Crème de Cacao
1 dash Bittermens Boston Bittahs

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with apricot liqueur. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I stopped into Eastern Standard for dinner and drinks. When I asked bartender Hugh Fiore for something bitter and stirred, he said that he had an idea. However, he would not tell me what was in it. Hugh mentioned that he was practicing for the BAR exam by tasting things blindly, and he wanted to test me on the ingredients.
The drink started with the lemon oils from the twist. The sip was sweet and malty, the swallow contained Campari and chocolate notes, and the end provided a lingering botanical finish. I correctly identified the ingredients as gin, Campari, and crème de cacao, but I missed the rinse (I spied Hugh rinsing the glass). I thought the rinse was Green Chartreuse, but alas it was a bell-ringer of apricot brandy. In trying to figure out how I mistook that there was Chartreuse in the drink, Hugh mentioned that the Death's Door Gin was strange. On one hand, it is malty like Bols Genever, and on the other hand, it only contains 3 botanicals: juniper, coriander, and fennel seeds. When I tasted the gin straight, I realized that it was the intense coriander note that reminded me a lot of Green Chartreuse.

Getting back to the drink, the chocolate and Campari paired rather well and the apricot flavors probably worked to soften the drink. It is not too often that Campari and crème de cacao get paired up, but it must be the combination that makes the Anvil Bar's Campari Alexander (Campari, crème de cacao, and cream) such a popular menu item there. Campari does get paired up quite often with Chocolate Mole Bitters though, such as in the 1794. For a drink name, I considered the crème de cacao and the Italian origin of Campari, and I dubbed it the Carletti after Francesco d'Antonio Carletti, a merchant from Florence who discovered chocolate in his travels. When Carletti described in 1606 the chocolate he tasted in Central America and in Spain, it helped to launch a wave of chocolate mania in Italy.

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