The Negroni Variations, Part 2: Ransom Negroni

None of this is particularly rocket science, as I’m sure you’ve caught on to. Substitutions of spirits, bitter and aromatized wine that basically hew to the basic Negroni formula are often quite tasty, and great springboards for experimentation.

Last time I was at the venerable Vessel* in Seattle, bartender Jim Romdall made me a lovely, spicy, bracing Negroni variation using a very different style of gin, the aforementioned Gran Classico Bitter, and a different vermouth to kick up the spice and bitterness profile a notch.

Ransom Old Tom Gin comes from Ransom Spirits in Oregon, and is their recreation of one possible expression of the 18th and 19th Century style of gin known as “Old Tom.” It’s lightly sweetened, sweeter than a London dry style, where the juniper is not so forward as in the latter. I’m not sure of the botanicals that go into Ransom, but they provide a nice, peppery spice profile, and the color comes from an amount of barrel-aging roughly equivalent to what the gin might have picked up while being shipped over from the Old Country in barrels. They developed the spirit in collaboration with writer, historian and monarch of the Hereditary Principate of Drunkistan, David Wondrich. If you’re looking to recreate a spirit from the mid-1800s, he’s probably your man. Or prince. Or … well, you get the idea.

Ransom works wonderfully in a Negroni, and Jim kicked it up with the new bitter on the block as well as my second-favorite vermouth after Carpano Antica, most coincidentally made by the same folks.

Feel free to vary the proportions to adjust to your preferred level of sweetness; this is just a guideline.

I don’t remember what Jim called it, but it was probably something like this:

(as served by Jim Romdall at Vessel, Seattle)

1-1/4 ounce Ransom Old Tom Gin.
1 ounce Gran Classico Bitter.
1 ounce Punt E Mes.
Orange peel.

Stir with ice for 30 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with the orange peel. You know the drill.

* – Vessel is currently closed, having lost their lease at the old location. They’re working hard to reopen in a new space (which I think will have parking, yay!) by late spring or early summer 2011. That’s a grand reopening party I don’t want to miss.