Tonight's Negroni #7: The Development of Taste

FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.

Somewhere along the way, I've learned a little something about cocktails. Obviously, it has something to do with the fact that I like to drink them. A little bit. 

I am what you call an enthusiast. (In fact, the United States Bartenders' Guild, which can't even keep the punctuation of its own name straight on its web site, will gladly collect $100 to recognize me as such. How gracious!) At least in the realm of cocktails, though, I'm a high-grade enthusiast. I read books about it. I collect esoteric bottles of unfamiliar boozes. I am willing to make up and share cocktail recipes of my own. I will gladly dork out talking to a bartender at a place with a strong beverage program. 

I'm so enmeshed in the whole cocktail situation that I say things like "strong beverage program" without a drop of sarcasm.

My point is, I've developed a certain level of skill at making cocktails, and along the way to that, I've developed a certain amount of taste. I can recognize a fantastic cocktail versus a good cocktail versus a pedestrian cocktail versus a crime against humanity.

I think this development of taste is interesting.

Let me stop here, though, to allay fears of snobbery. My friend Miracle Ed (yes, as far as you know, that's his name) once very aptly differentiated me from a gourmet (a connoisseur of good food; a person with a discerning palate) by labeling me a gourmand (a person who enjoys eating and often eats too much). These days I might argue a bit for something along the lines of epicure (a person who takes particular pleasure in fine food and drink), but who cares, really? What I'm trying to illustrate is that I take more than a little pride in still having a genuine appreciation of a tasty hot dog from a sidewalk cart, even though I occasionally spend time in highfalutin fine dining restaurants. I also actively culture my appreciation of sub-$10 red wines, which has become a sort of reverse snobbery on my part at this point, I'll admit.

One area of "taste" where I'm almost broken in terms of falling into snobbery, however, is coffee. I still use a drip coffee maker every day of the week, but I put really good, locally roasted beans in there. When I have time at home, I do go the extra mile to make at least one cup of pour-over or Aeropress coffee (usually with Tonx beans) before I move on to the drip carafe. Just a week and a half ago, one of my favorite restaurants, which happens to be around the corner from my office, started a coffee pop-up that is my new favorite thing ever. But yeah, I'm totally the guy that will give you a ride to Starbucks or DuDos and wait for you without buying anything for myself. I kind of hate that about me, but it's true.

Back in the first of these newsletter things, I noted that the cocktail called Negroni was a bartender favorite (among other reasons) because it was an acquired taste. What's the point in acquiring tastes anyway? Why not stick with frozen margs and vodka tonics if they make you happy? Why bother to learn about weird tasting stuff like bitters and amari?

Well, in the end, it's something you should do only if it interests you. Cocktails and food (and coffee) interest the hell out of me, so I'm diving deep. But I'm not going to judge you if you're not on the same dive as I am. I hope you've found something that has you swimming the dark waters, but it certainly doesn't have to me the same thing as me.

Just bear with me if I offer to make to a Caipirinha instead of your usual marg if you're at my house.

And so, let's talk about "fancying up" the already "fancy":

Fizzy Negroni

This is not just an Americano with gin, no! This is bending the will of Nature to put bubbles in booze!

  • 2oz gin (I used Tanq because I keep it int he freezer and cold is your friend here.)
  • 2oz Sweet vermouth (This time I went with Dolin Rouge.)
  • 2oz Campari (Duh.)
  1. Add ingredients to a Mastrad Purefizz soda siphon. (If you're adventurous, you can to this in a whipped cream siphon, but the Purefizz is the best thing going.)
  2. Screw on the top, nice & tight.
  3. Charge twice with 8g CO2 cartridges.
  4. Shake it like like you mean it for a little bit.
  5. Let it rest in the cold. The fridge is probably fine, but I actually went for the freezer for close to 20 minutes.
  6. Release the pressure. CAREFUL! It's possible (especially if you do crazy freezer shenanigans like I did that stuff will come shooting out when you do this!
  7. Pour it out on some ice cubes.
  8. Lookit the fizz!!! (Enjoy it when you pour it, though. It's still not nearly as carbonated as soda pop, so you'll never see that amount of fizz again.)

The carbonation really brings out the bitter orange of the Campari, making this the double-black version of what I consider a black diamond cocktail. Don't bother unless you know you've acquired the taste for Campari and Negronis in general.