Subtle Nuances; Vastly Different Cocktails

I was in a funk recently. To spurn my funk and accelerate back to good times, I decided to order another book! “The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails” by Tony Abou-Ganim (with Mary Elizabeth Faulkner, Forward by Mario Batali and Photographs by Tim Turner). Apparently this was a collaborative effort. I, for one, had never heard of Tony Abou-Ganim before I read the reviews of this book, shining like the last star of twilight left in a dawning sky, but I know about him now and he’s pretty awesome. The man is lyrical, which I can appreciate, and has a story, anecdote or bit of well-constructed prose to accompany his poetic, well-constructed cocktails.

Just For Mary_Full View

The Just for Mary is one of these well-constructed cocktails. Combining rye whiskey, Lillet Blanc, Cherry Heering and orange bitters; the drink is striking in its lightness and simplicity.

_MG_3493

Just for Mary (from The Modern Mixologist)

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

Build all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice. Stir until chilled and double strain into a chilled coupe. Flame an orange peel over the top and garnish with the peel (a brandied cherry was called for, alas, I have none).

This was, in all respects, a deconstructed Manhattan. Taking a less bitter vermouth like Cinzano, already awash with red berry flavors, modifying the rye with Lillet and Cherry Heering was a bit like having the base of an aromatized wine and then adding the darker agents during the mixing and not the macerating. The results were quite nice: great balance and just a little bit lighter and orangier than your standard Manhattan. A Manhattan for the summer, maybe!

Still, it got me thinking, because while delicious, it isn’t really my kind of drink (naturally, it’s Mary’s!). I like a bitter edge. Something with a bite. What might the Salers do?

The Barking Dog_1

Le Chien Qui Aboie (“The Barking Dog”)

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 1/2 oz. Salers Aperitif
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Build all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice. Stir until chilled and double strain into a chilled coupe. Flame an orange peel over the top and garnish with the peel (a brandied cherry was called for, alas, I have none).

 Now we’re speaking my language. There were glimmers of the Just for Mary in this, but there was greater complexity: notes of gentian, a vegetal grassiness and chocolate to complement the spicy rye and fruity overtones. Still a rather light drink, and while I won’t say it’s better than the Just for Mary, I’ll say it’s more my style. Then again, taste is entirely a matter of the taster.

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2 responses to “Subtle Nuances; Vastly Different Cocktails

    • I’d generally say Suze because it’s grassier and lighter. Suze would’ve been more par for my intentions here; but the perplexing, deep chocolate notes (I get) in the Salers went well with the Heering and gave it something to latch onto after I changed the bitters to the more vegetal rhubarb. It’s always the bitters’ fault!

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