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Negroni Nirvana – Going out on a limb

Feeling in a downright funky mood after last night’s excursion into Negroni Nirvana, we decide to press on with the use of Smith & Cross rum and some more Negroni love. Today’s offering may be the first where you begin to seriously scratch your head and ask … “is theSpeakista off his rocker?”

Well, as we dig deeper into today’s recipe it will likely become clear why many may think me loony for including this drink in a discussion of Negroni variants.  While it does include a “style” of sweet vermouth (heavily more bitter than our average sweet vermouth used) there is no sign of gin, the Campari is nowhere to be seen and there is a mezcal rinse.  What?

Created by Erik Ellestad one night post work when in search of a scotch-based drink, the Ashtray Heart seems like a mistake gone perfectly right.  I’m pretty sure Erik would not consider his creation to be a Negroni riff (in fact if I read his post correctly, it sounds like it was not even close) but despite this, we are indeed including it in Negroni Nirvana.  First, we downright love S&C rum and the chance to use it again was more than welcomed.  Second and most important is our desire to explore how the classic Negroni recipe can be stretched to yield something all-together new and today we stretch that recipe hard.

Here is why you may think me nuts — the Negroni recipe of gin + sweet vermouth + Campari is turned on its head; where once gin stood proudly a funky rum stands in its place; where sweet vermouth once tamed the savage bitter beast now a dry vermouth humbly calls forth and where once that orange bitter monster roared with pride, we see a more bitter albeit still “sweet” vermouth seeking its place.  My first comment in my tasting notes reads … “One of these “Holly Hell” kind of experiences!”  For my unsophisticated palate this drink is magic … sweet, yielding to bitter, yielding to a wave of fruit and botanicals followed by a blanket of smoke and bitter.  As you sip longer you notice less the components (or search them out less) and instead you taste a balanced drink.

We fully admit that today’s little thought experiment at extending our “Negroni” framework to the breaking point, may just have met its end.  We will begin to see this more frequently as we dive deeper into new riffs.

Ashtray Heart
Recipe created by Erik Ellestad (sourced from the book “beta cocktails,” compiled by Kirk Estopinal and Maksym Pazuniak ) and adapted by theSpeakista  

•    1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
•    1 oz dry vermouth (Dolin Dry was used)
•    1 oz Punt e Mes vermouth
•    Rinse, mezcal  
Garnish: grapefruit twist
Glass: chilled coupe or other cocktail glass
Tools: mixing glass, bar-spoon and julep strainer

Assembly: Add all of the ingredients to the mixing glass and stir for several minutes with plenty of cracked and non-cracked ice until well chilled (adding in additional ice as needed along the way) and strain into the serving glass that has been rinsed with the mezcal. Express the oils from the twist over the top of the drink and discard; sip, enjoy and repeat the entire process as many times as your little heart so desires.

Thanks Erik for the great drink!  Desiring additional stamps in our passport, we board another flight heading south because we are thirsty for a little pisco action.

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