* You are viewing the archive for September, 2007

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.


Bourbon Crusta

Basically the same as the Brandy Crusta but with the base spirit switched out. The main reason I’m posting this one separately is so that I can show you how pretty the drink looked back when it was on the regular menu at Seven Grand.

Bourbon Crusta

Bourbon Crusta

2 ounces Bourbon whiskey.
1/2 ounce Cointreau (or other triple sec).
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur.
1/2 ounce lemon juice.
2 dashes orange bitters.

Shake ingredients with ice and pour into a glass that’s been prepared with a sugared rim. Strain into the glass, and place a whole lemon peel around the rim of the glass.

This is the Crusta recipe that’s been going around these days, but I like to reduce the liqueurs a bit, maybe just a teaspoon of maraschino and 2 teaspoons of Cointreau to make it a bit drier, but it’s a good drink in either proportion. Incidentally, the recipe called for in Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks called for only a teaspoon of lemon juice, a half-teaspoon of curaçao and no maraschino at all.

We sipped, and enjoyed, and I said it again. “We’re drinking Crustas. In a bar. In Los Angeles. (In mid-2007, this was unheard-of, and the beginning of an amazing cocktail renaissance in the City of Angels.)