Tuesday, September 29, 2009


1 1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1 lump Sugar (Demerara Cube)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
Champagne (Gruet Brut)

Dash bitters over sugar in small cocktail glass. Stir Dubonnet with ice and strain into glass. Add champagne to fill, stir gently, and twist lemon peel over the top. Serve with cut straws.
Last night I was looking for a light digestif cocktail in Boothby's 1934 edition of World Drinks and How to Mix Them and spotted the Alfonso. While I was partly drawn to the recipe as it would make good use of our recently opened bottle of sparkling wine (although with the cap seal, the bubbles last for more than a week or two), Andrea seemed rather excited by the Dubonnet component. The drink is a variation of the classic Champagne Cocktail with a bitters-soaked sugar cube at the bottom of the glass. The recipe in Boothby's utilizes orange bitters whereas other recipes specify Secrestat and other aromatic bitters instead.

The Alfonso had a pretty garnet color from the Dubonnet and a tingly lemon nose from the twist and champagne bubbles. The Dubonnet and orange bitters are a classic pairing seen in many older drinks such as the Zaza Cocktail and work well due to the synergy of orange peel flavors in each. Indeed, over time, as more of the sugar cube dissolved into the drink, it became increasingly curaçao-like in flavor. Andrea rather enjoyed the drink and wished that Seelbachs tasted like this. When pushed, she did declare that it was better than a Seelbach, but perhaps not better than the ones that bartender Andy McNees makes here in Boston.

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