FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.
I tweeted a request for suggestions for talking points a while back, and much to my delight, I actually got some responses! The (handful) of responses fell into two camps:
- Drink as many Negronis as you can in X amount of time and then try to type a newsletter. UNTIL YOU DIE! (To which I replied "Duh, but what do I write about, dorks?!")
- Tell us about Stay-at-Home Bartender staples. Like, what mixers and such do you keep on hand at all times.
No surprise, but I'ma go with #2 since it's a for real request.
Before I start, however, I will remind you that Jeffrey Morganthaller's The Bar Book covers pretty much all of the territory I should cover in this particular newsletter. In fact, that book has made me question the very existence of this newsletter. It's just that good.
Here's the rub, though: The Bar Book is a little bit too "pro".
Jeffrey is a real live bartender, running multiple real live bars in a pretty booze-happy town (PDX). That shows in the book, if you ask me. As it turns out, that means his advice is mana from heaven to a borderline-psycho like myself, but maybe a bit over the top for a normal at-home mixer who wants to make cocktails for their Significantly Other Person and maybe a couple other folks on the weekend.
Even someone like me doesn't need to juice limes on the weekly. (And trust: I can use me some lime juice.)
The nitty and the gritty
So... here is what you, the run of the mill recreational cocktalian should keep in your house at most times:
- Limes (I always have about 6. If they start to look questionable, I start mixing lime-based drinks. Same applies for all of the following.)
- Lemons (I generally keep 2 or 3.)
- Orange (Like one for just in case. Scale up if you have something planned.)
- Grapefruit (Only if you have something in the works ahead of time. Otherwise: See below.)
Nobody in my house uses sugar in coffee any more, so we hardly have a need for sweeteners at all, but I still keep a little bit of the following in the cabinet:
- Cane sugar ("Raw" or "Demerara" or whatever makes you happy.)
- Honey (Like from bees.)
- Agave nectar (I am suspicious of this one, because it is supposedly higher in fructose than High Fructose Corn Syrup, but is does have a good flavor and rules are made for breaking. Again, see below.)
- Brown sugar / molasses / whatever else... (Only as needed / planned for.)
Bottles & Cans
First, let me point out that I never drink sugar water on the regular. I just don't drink soda at all. I save that for the double whammy of combining it with alcohol, like a goddamned GENTLEMAN.
That said, I try to keep cans of the following around almost all the time:
- Coca-Cola (I grew up in the South and can't abide Pepsi. I try to prefer the real sugar stuff in glass bottles -- especially the little 8oz "ass-kickers" (as my family call them).)
- Ginger something (I go for Gosling's ginger beer or something more small-scale and made with cane sugar, but still offering the kick I want from my Dark & Stormy. Go ahead and settle for a Ginger "Ale" if you are lame like that. Note: I have still yet to DIY my own ginger soda, but I want to do it.)
- Citrus flavored sodapop (My beloved Granddad kept Sprite. I keep Squirt most of the time. 7-up, Fresca, whatever, dude.)
- Tonic water (Yes, I make large batches of tonic syrup each summer, but you are not insane like me. Buy Q Tonic or Fever Tree and be pleased with yourself. Avoid HFCS junk.)
- Pineapple juice (In those tiny cans. useful for the occasional Tiki drink, though no comparison to the real thing.)
- Grapefruit juice (Ocean Spray does small plastic bottles. It's not as good as fresh, but it's good enough to get by if you want to try a new recipe or someone requests a Salty Dog out of the blue.)
- Orange juice (Usually just around for breakfast or whatever, it comes in handy at cocktail hour, too. Also: Mimosas.)
- Tomato juice (I usually have a bottle of some kind of vegetable juice blend that is primarily tomato. You've gotta be able to improvise a Bloddy Mary at any time. Seriously: DROP OF A HAT!)
After all that, we get into alcoholic mixers, and that's a whole nother thing.
Feel free to let me know if you'd care to hear about it, though. I do have some thoughts on the matter, as you might guess.
I freely acknowledge that the name is an abomination, but the drink is a damned fine thing.
So last night, I improvised a Tiki drink for my Special Lady Friend and I. It involved the following ingredients with the addition of Tiki staples like orgeat and pineapple juice. Today, as I pondered what to feature in this email, I thought "I wonder..." and sure enough a Negroni variation was born!
- 1 part Spiced (or maybe aged?) rum (I just went with Sailor Jerry. I haven't allowed myself to become a rum connoisseur. Yet. For reasons.)
- 1 part Aperol (Campari's friendlier cousin.)
- 1 part Swedish Punsch (I found Kronan brand at the very excellent The Proper Pour in Denver.)
- Add ingredients to a double rocks glass.
- Add rocks. (OR If you are more committed to the Tiki thing than I am - or prefer a "softer" beverage - loads of crushed ice.)
- Stir with finger.
Gary (AKA: "gaz") Regan put out a call for Negroni variation recipes, so I submitted my Citrine, which I previously shared in this space. Well, he seems to be including it in the running for his 101 Best New Cocktails, 2014 edition (he compiles a new book each year -- nice gig!). This is, obviously, pretty darned humbling for a "professional amateur" like myself. Woohoo!