Friday, May 13, 2011

A Rye Take on Negroni

Campari, sweet vermouth, liquor. Sounds like a Negroni, one of my all-time favorite gin cocktails but what is rye doing in there? I’m at High West Distillery in Park City, Utah where the specialty booze is brown and aged. High West also makes a silver whiskey from oats and the world’s only oat based vodka. But if you come to this drinking establishment, it would be damn shame to leave without sampling some of what they are best known for: rye whiskey.

When the bar manager, Christian, set out to invent some new cocktails for the bar menu he thought the combination of some of the sweet, caramel notes of High West’s aged whiskies would blend nicely with the bitterness of Campari. Come to find out, there is a classical cocktail, Boulevardier, which does exactly that. Just like a Negroni but with whiskey, the Boulevardier at High West combines their Double Rye!, Campari, and Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth.

A perfect Boulevardier is 1:1:1 ratio for the three main ingredients. In Utah the state liquor laws require no cocktail be more than 2.5 ounces. To comply but not lose the key flavors of bitter orange and whiskey, Christian cuts back on the sweet vermouth by half an ounce. The result is that same mouth puckering bitter orange of Campari in a Negroni, but in lieu of the herbaceous gin, the sweet caramel notes of the Double Rye! add balance without cloying. I might not be ready to give up on gin yet but whiskey just found another excellent place in my cocktail repertoire.

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