Wednesday, September 19, 2012

damp hands of melancholy

1 1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Shooting Star Syrah 2010 (*)
2 dash Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass containing two ice cubes. Flame an orange twist over the drink and garnish with a fresh one.
(*) Any big, dry, and tannic Syrah wine will do.

For a second drink at Park Restaurant in Harvard Square, I asked bartender Daren Swisher what else he had been tinkering with. Daren suggested a wine cocktail based off of a conversation with writer (and drink creator) Luke O'Neil about the difficulties of being a professional writer. In Luke's blog, he had a quote on this topic from James Thurber that contained the lines, "The notion that such persons [writers] are gay of heart and carefree are curiously untrue. ...The little wheels of their invention are set in motion by the damp hands of melancholy." Daren decided that he needed to craft a drink after that last phrase and set to work.
The Damp Hands of Melancholy began with orange oils and grape aromas. Grape was a common theme here for the sip was a sweet grape, and the swallow had more grape notes finishing with the dryness of wine tannins and the bitters' clove and cinnamon. Indeed, the drink was at first very grape, but after a few sips the balance began to change. Soon, the Amaro Montenegro's tangerine-mandarine and herbal complexity began to blossom as well as the clove from the bitters started to linger. While I attributed this to ice melt, Daren concluded that it was due to the build up of the Syrah's tannins on the tongue.

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