A Night at the Opera

Inspired by my catch-up on Robert’s video series, I revisited this drink for the first time in a while, and I’m glad I did.

The Opera Cocktail

2 ounces Tanqueray gin.
1/2 ounce Dubonnet.
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur.
1 dash orange bitters.

Stir with ice in a mixing glass for no less than 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The maraschino was Maraska, and the bitters were Regans’.

Dubonnet, for those of you who may not be familiar with it, is a red aperitif wine in the same category as sweet vermouth, and fortified to 19% alcohol, so it’ll keep for a little while (keep it in the fridge, though). It’s classified as a quinquina, which is an aperitif wine that contains quinine, and a proprietary blend of spices. It originated in France, but is currently made in the U.S. It’s quite lovely by itself, and is an ingredient in a number of classic cocktails. As much as I like the American version, those who have tried it say that the version made in France (but not exported) is superior.

Dubonnet comes in two varieties, as does vermouth and the other well-known quinquina/aperitif wine Lillet, both red and white. The rule of thumb, though, is that if it calls for Dubonnet, you want red; if it calls for Lillet, you want white. The white Dubonnet and red Lillet varities aren’t nearly as good as their counterparts.

I like Dubonnet a lot, and haven’t had it in a while. We had the dregs of a bottle in the fridge for Gawd knows how long, and now that I’ve got a fresh one (which is no probem for you to keep on hand; it’s almost as cheap as vermouth) I’ll be exploring more Dubonnet cocktails in the next few months.