My sweet tooth makes me shy away from bitter liqueurs. I know the world loves Campari and I’ve tried but just one sip and my mouth always puckers so tightly my tongue has to move out of the way.
Very fortunately, an Italian friend has introduced me to Aperol. This is another bitter Italian liqueur, but on so different. Created by a family spirits company — the Barbieri — in 1919, Aperol is now produced by the same company that does that Campari stuff.
Aperol has half the alcohol of Campari, only 11% [15% in Germany because of local laws that help explain why the Euro will fail!]. It is the Aperol flavorings that make it less bitter and, I believe, far more versatile. These flavorings include some things familiar and some a tad obscure:
- Bitter orange
- Gentian, an alpine flowering plant [many species are used in a variety of European liqueurs]
- Cinchona: a family of medicinal plants from the Andes forests
Of course, there are other ingredients and a secret recipe, which is all fodder for you to guess about as you sip and keep asking yourself what could be in this liquid extravaganza. And how did some Italians near Padua in 1919 get their hands on plants from the Andes?
Aperol has a rich orange-red color and is a most versatile component for making wonderful cocktails. Here is an Aperol Sour recipe from Neue Cuisine by Kurt Gutenbrunner, a marvelous new cookbook toasting the elegant tastes of Vienna. There will more posts from Neue Cuisine in the coming days, but this is the appropriate aperitif to get us started.
This recipe for an Aperol Sour is a tad different from the one at the Aperol web site [www.aperol.com/cocktails]. The web site suggests using sugar syrup, which is one of my standard ingredients, but Neue Cuisine said to try confectioners’ sugar. I was worried it might yield a cloudy cocktail, but as you can see from the picture above, it’s all a sparkling gem
You can certainly play with the relative proportions of Aperol, lemon juice and sugar to drive from the sweet to the sour. And, I’m going to be trying lime juice, too. It is this flexible versatility of Aperol that will make you smile, and not pucker at all.
Yield: 1 serving
- Ice cubes
- 2 ounces Aperol
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 1 thin slice of lemon
- 1 small tarragon sprig (optional0
Fill a rocks glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine the Aperol with the lemon juice and sugar. Shake well and strain into the glass. Garnish with the lemon slice and tarragon sprig, if using, and serve.
Source: Neue Cuisine by Kurt Gutenbrunner
What is the origin of new recipes? Experimentation. Inspiration. Desperation.
It’s fall here, the peak weekend for red and yellow leaves and I’m getting ready for a fall party. I need to come up with a great cocktail.
I was going to serve Pina Coladas, sort of a last, long farewell to summer.
Suzen said, “No. Wait here, Sweetie.” Those are harmless words, but I did not like the tone at all. In a few moments, she returned holding a book, one of my favorites: Biophysics Demystified by Daniel Goldfarb. It’s a geek book, filled with equations and diagrams explaining how our bodies function.
“You need to read this,” she said, opening the book for me. And then I knew. I remembered that tone. I had not heard it in twenty-five years, but it was straight out of that attorney’s office when we were discussing our prenupt. My lawyer told me not to … Well, it’s been twenty-five years.
I looked at the page but could not focus. “Let me explain it to you,” Suzen offered. “In a normal human, the heart pumps about 5 liters, a bit over 5 quarts, of blood a minute.” She stopped and looked at my muscular chest. “In you, maybe 5.1.
“Now, when blood leaves the heart, most of it goes through the aorta, which starts with a diameter of 3 centimeters, a bit over one inch. But the aorta soon ends and the diameter is 33% smaller then. What does that mean, Brian”
“The blood has to flow faster at the end,” I said. I know my bloody fluid dynamics.
“Exactly. But that Pina Colada is made with coco lopez, and what do you think happens when you eat that stuff?” She did not pause for me to answer. “It’s ingested immediately, goes into the blood stream, into the heart and out the aorta. When you pour that lopez stuff out of the can, it’s all slow motion. When it’s going through your aorta, it just clings to the sides.
“It’s going to create eddies in your blood flow. And then turbulence.”
“Oh, no,” I reacted. I used to work on airplanes and turbulence is bad, very bad.
“Yes, Brian, noisy turbulence. If you drink this stuff, I’ll soon be able to hear your blood flow from across the room. You’ll sound like a clogged drain. And while I might appreciate the white noise during the day, it would keep me up at night. We don’t want that, do we, Brian?”
“No.” I heard my own meek voice.
“That’s right.” She walked the can of Coco Lopez over to the garbage can and released it from two feed up. There was thud, a rattle, and it was over.
I turned to walk away.
“If you are going to the basement now to get that stack of two more cans you hide at the bottom of that box topped with pliers, I threw it away yesterday.”
Let’s just look at the bright side here. She’s trying to help me. And that walk down to the basement and then, Lord, back up would be tough on my heart.
I’m left with pineapple juice I had bought. A lot of it, in those little cans than tend to migrate to the back of the shelf and then hibernate way, way past their expiration date. Like from one century to the next. Not good.
I’m in a gin mood. Suzen always is. So I created this gin and pineapple juice concoction I call a zippy. Why? Because I first made it without the tonic water and I thought my brain might explode. Gin is unforgivingly strong. So, I retried with a little more pineapple juice and some tonic water. You should feel free to adjust both when you try this.
This cocktail is very refreshing, with waves of flavor and the competition of gin against the sweetness and the tonic water.
Suzen will be gone next week. I’m going to do some more beverage experiments. I regret that she found that stash of Coco Lopez under the pliers. That was not very cleverly disguised by me. I think the pipe wrenches on the higher shelf will prove more effective.
Gin and Pineapple Zippy
Yield: Serves 1
- 2 ounces gin, ideally chilled in the refrigerator
- 1.5 ounces pineapple juice
- 1 ounce simple sugar syrup
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 ounces tonic water
Fill an 8 ounce cocktail glass with crushed ice.
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with several ice cubes. Shake well until fully chilled. Pour into the cocktail glass.
Source: Brian O’Rourke