Heering Flip

There are, believe me, no shortage of cocktail recipe books. And even someone with no experience with a single one of them could likely guess that most of them are complete garbage.

There are two easy ways to tell. The first is the easiest: generally speaking, the more recipes a book has, the worse those recipes will be. If the cover boasts more than, say, 750 of them, it’s probably an admittedly enormous collection of completely terrible drinks.  The second is almost as easy: flip to the recipe for a Margarita. If it calls for sweet and sour there (or really anywhere in the book), throw it away because it is worthless.

What we have left are the histories, the celebrated single-bar books, and the books with no recipe for a margarita (which is a promising sign). Beta Cocktails (formerly Rogue Cocktails) is an example of the latter. Written by Kirk Estopinal and Maksym Pazuniak, Beta Cocktails is a thin little number with about 40 recipes that range from imaginative to bizarre. It’s a fantastic and innovative mini-collection, great to jog the imagination, or just to try something totally new on a Sunday night.

Heering Flip

2oz Cherry Heering
0.5oz Bittermans Xocolatl Mole bitters
1 whole egg
1 pinch salt
Add all ingredients, shake with no ice to emulsify, add ice and shake the jesus out of it. Strain over fresh ice. Garnish the egg-foam head with three drops Mole bitters.

Yes, two ounces of Cherry Heering. Yes, a half ounce of bitters. See? Bizarre.

This isn’t so much a dessert drink as it is a dessert course. The nose was a predictable cherry and chocolate, but the first sip evoked chocolate milk and, strangely enough, pie. The egg serves to thicken the already very thick Heering base, and the salt only makes it more savory while offering a bit of sourness on the back end.

The overal impression was that the drink is cooler than it is delicious, but still very drinkable. And strangely balanced – while definitely a sweet drink, it’s not too sweet as the ingredients might suggest. It is, however, exceptionally thick and rich. This is for someone who’s done with their food but still hungry. I will definitely make this again.

Bitter Giuseppe

After the Milano Swizzle, I wanted more salt in cocktails, and thought back to a drink my friend Addison had made me some six months ago, the Bitter Giuseppe.

There are a few different versions of this drink floating around. According to this blog, the drink was created by Stephen Cole of Chicago’s wonderful The Violet Hour, and then made salty by Kirk Estopinal of Cure in New Orleans. Estopinal’s recipe calls for Punt e Mes with salt, Cole’s original with Carpano Antica without, but both share Cynar’s artichoke heart. At Craft and Commerce, they (predictably) do it their own way.

Bitter Giuseppe
2oz Cynar
1oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
2 small dashes of salt
Combine ingredients in Old Fashioned Glass over ice.
Cut a lemon peel with enough meat to extract about 10-15 drops of juice
Squeeze juice into the drink, express peel oils on top, stir, and serve.

As detailed in a marvelous post on beta cocktails, the extra salt reins in the Cynar — this cocktail has twice the Cynar but only half the bitterness of the Milano Swizzle. Apparently while reading French scientist Hervé This’s dense & detailed volume, Molecular Gastronomy, Estopinal found that salt curiously tempers bitterness in liquids even more than sugar.

In this case, the salt blunted the bitter effect, allowing the liqueur’s component ingredients to showcase their otherwise overpowered flavors. The nose is a bit unengaging, but the taste offers a complex and pleasing barrage of herbal notes (orange and artichoke, to name two of several) and deep salted umami that fades into soft and lingering bitterness at the finish.

Milano Swizzle

Every great once in a while, a happy accident aligns our schedules and all my best friends have the same afternoon off. Tuesday was such an afternoon, and never one to beat a dead gift horse, we all immediately descended upon Craft and Commerce for some sunshine cocktails.

It was gorgeous outside – we’ve had more summer this winter than we had all of last summer – so I plucked the Milano Swizzle off the menu for something bitter and refreshing before my embarrassingly bourgeois meal of bacon-wrapped corn dogs.

Milano Swizzle
0.25oz lemon juice
1oz Cynar
1oz Beefeater London Dry Gin
1oz Carpano Antica
pinch of cracked salt
Fill with crushed ice, swizzle or stir until glass frosts;
garnish with lemon peel.

I’m fairly confident that this is unrelated to Tony Abou Ganim’s Milano, and shares the Italian city only as a source for the lovely potable bitters – in this case, the earth and artichoke of the Cynar. This is essentially a Negroni with a different bitter and a bit of lemon juice. What really excited me about this drink was the salt, still a stone relatively unturned in my cocktail experience and used deliciously here.

The drink started tart and led to a complex orange and earth herbaceous that the salt made almost savory, with the alchemy of the ingredients intensifying the Cynar for a sharply bitter finish. The salt was mostly undetectable but for the savory effect, and definitely makes me want to play with it more.

Our bartender Ryan commented that salt and Cynar enjoy each other’s company. Drinking it, you can clearly see how it can be taken too far, but you can also get a glimpse of its potential.