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I have done such a complete 180 on Campari over the last few years… actually, sometimes I fear that it’s not so much that I’ve done a 180 on Campari as I’ve suffered from a life-long brain-fart conflation between Campari and Pimm’s. Because they’re both russet-toned and from the other side of the ocean, just like Communists, and my memory really started going to pot when I hit 34. The point is, I will still look at you sideways if you tell me you really love Pimm’s Cups and probably ask to see your papers because you’re clearly a pond-jumping toffer, but I will toast with you the whole night through if you tell me you love Negronis and Americanos. (Which are from Italy, I realize… logic’s not my strong suit today.)
It’s clear I’ve also been on a bit of an old-fashioned kick lately, probably because whiskey drinks on the rocks are inherently winter-appropriate, to my mind, and not terribly elaborate to make. This Campari Old-Fashioned is super-easy to make and gives you a reason to pull the Campari bottle down from the shelf between the months of November and April.
Blogging is emotional, people, and here’s why. One day I’m confessing to you all the twists and turns, dead ends, missteps, frustrations and, ultimately, the satisfaction that comes from fashioning a cocktail recipe outta nada. And we liked that, right? The Bathtub Gin(ger) — it sounds delightful, no? We picture, like, those fantastical, Depression-era black-and-white flickers with the Mae West and the Ginger Rogers and the silky peignoirs and the heart-shaped hotel bathtubs on pedestals. Don’t we? (I have a pretty active imagination.)
And then the next day, what I have to confess to you is this: I found this other cocktail site that is a pretty excellent resource for mixologists of all levels, a really thorough, user-friendly, cleanly designed database of drink recipes that absolutely merits my recommending it to you, and now y’all are gonna leave me, I just know it. Boo hoo hoo! Now I’m picturing a Douglas Sirk B-grade weepy in which Barbara Stanwyck slaps the dickens out of her unrequiting lover because she is mentally unhinged and afraid of losing him.
Kindred Cocktails lets you browse recipes by author, ingredient, base liquor or most-recently-added recipes. Anyone is allowed to contribute. The guy who runs it calls himself “Chief Swizzlestick,” which your Head Blogtender finds almost but not quite as clever as Head Blogtender.
Anyone else here a huge Hedwig fan? You know, the eponymous character from the off-Broadway-musical-turned-cultishly-adored-indie-film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, that one about the queer East German boy whose African-American G.I. male lover/sugar daddy encouraged him to get a sex change that did not go well, hence the “angry inch?” That one.
After Hedwig winds up a craggily transgendered, white-trash divorcee stuck in a Kansas trailer park, s/him sings a bittersweet number about what few pleasures life still holds, one being “vermouth on the rocks.” So to ‘splain — no, there is too much, to sum up — now you get what the above pic’s all about. (An in-joke expressly styled for an audience of exactly moi? Probably.)
OK, my point is — vermouth on the rocks, who drinks this anymore? I know they did back in the day before the counterculture hit, if only because it says so in this book I once read, New York in The 50s: Young adults and also James Baldwin got together at one another’s cramped apartments in the Village and drank vermouth and then danced the Twist to Chubby Checker. So there must’ve been some sort of cool cachet surrounding vermouth back then, to balance out the fact that vermouth tastes yucky.
I’m gonna be honest with you guys — I’m always honest with you guys, right? — and tell you that the Whatchawant is actually a mistake version of another drink I wanted to make for y’all. Maybe not so much a mistake as misinformation; based on what I’d read of it in a magazine, I went about recreating this particular cocktail — wrongly, as it turns out — that’s on the menu at a place in St. Louis called Sanctuaria Wild Tapas.
I can’t vouch for how “wild” the tapas is (does it belly dance for you unsolicited, just ‘cuz it feelin’ feisty?), but the cocktail side of Sanctuaria’s operation is phantasmagoric in concept and makes me regret leaving St. Louis before I got to set foot in the place. Get this:
If gins and whiskies are the big, fat, celestial love gods of the mixology universe, bitters are a bartender’s obsessed-over, oft-hoarded little fetish objects: twee phials packed with alchemistic potions made from unpublished recipes that cocktail nerds like me can wax on about until we belatedly realize everyone else has left the room. Heck, I even arrange my bitters bottles all Sleeping with the Enemy neatnik-like atop my bar like I used to do my Smurf figurines (in their Smurf village, amongst their mushroom houses — not atop a bar, or because I was trying to kill Julia Roberts).
Unfortunately, the current proliferation of small-batch bitters products can diminish the line between cocktail nerd and cocktail snob. It kind of reminds me of the Great Brooklyn Music Scene Paroxysm of ’09, with the name-checking of bitters brands like Bittermen’s, Fee Brothers (the company I keep) and Regans‘ akin to referencing your close, personal relationship with the latest Panda Bear or Japanther album — with the added stress test of feeling like a total uncool dweebheel if (*gasp*) you don’t make your own bitters???
Upholding my week-long commitment to exploring the far reaches of Alexandria, today I find myself a bit of a stranger in a strange land — that land being Tequilaville.
I have never cottoned to tequila, and I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out on much as a consequence, except perhaps further burdening my trove of already-embarrassing-enough drunken tales/tally of inexplicable scars (two; one just south of my lower lip, the other craggy across the top of one foot). If bourbon tastes like adult fun, then tequila tastes like legal troubles. It’s antagonistic-tasting. It’s too in-my-face, and even when I’m doing nothing more innocent than enjoying a margarita, I often believe that tequila’s devilish essence is asseverating itself from beneath its blanket of lime, sugar and salt, rather than just commingling nicey-nice in the glass like a base liquor is supposed to.