Very early in my cocktail journeys, I discovered I love Campari. So, naturally, I’ve been curious about its cousins, Aperol and Cynar. While I haven’t tried the latter yet, I had my first taste of the former several months ago at The Cedars Social in Dallas. It was mixed with rye (my favorite spirit), grapefruit juice and honey syrup. It was so tasty, I picked up a bottle of Aperol that week to try and replicate it at home.
I had some great results, but I wondered what else I could use this stuff for (for those unfamiliar, by the way, Aperol is similar to Campari, only sweeter, less bitter, and lower in alcohol). After having little luck finding recipes online that used Aperol (it’s not even a listed ingredient at CocktailDB), I decided to try making up my own.
I decided to start by attempting a “girly” play on the Negroni. Like, maybe try crossing it with a Sour?… The result was… Wow… Seriously, since I first made this drink a month or so ago, I cannot get over how delicious it is. Great balance, and the flavors come in waves: fruity and sweet at first, then complex and slightly bitter, followed by the gin botanicals on the swallow, and a wonderful citrusy finish. Plus, you would never guess that 3/4 of the pre-shake ingredients are booze!
But what to name this fantastic pink potable?… Then I remembered my good friend Patrick. Imagine you’re a bartender and six and a half feet of lumbering German-American says to you in an impossibly low, booming voice:
Okay, I like girly drinks. Like, reeeally girly drinks… So, pretend you’re a frat guy. And I’m a sorority girl. And you want to get into my panties… Now make the drink that will facilitate that.
And thus was christened:
- 2 oz. Gin (I used Broker’s)
- 1 oz. Aperol
- 1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz. Orgeat Syrup (to taste)
- 2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters (Bitter Truth/Bittermen’s)
- 1 dash Cherry Bitters (Fee Bros.)
- Lemon Twist
Shake liquid ingredients well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist (squeeze, rim, & drop in).
My only real issue with this drink so far is consistency. While always delicious, the choice of gin and the type/ripeness of lemon seem to change the flavor quite bit. If your lemons are on the extra-sour side, up the Orgeat to 3/4 oz. I’ve now made it with Broker’s, Citadelle, and Hendrick’s. And that’s the order I preferred them in. While I love all three gins, it seems the drier, “London-ier,” the better. The softness and subtlety of the last two didn’t hold up as well with the other ingredients.
Also, in the month I’ve been workshopping this recipe, I came across the Intro to Aperol cocktail by the Queen of Cocktails, Audrey Saunders. Apparently, it’s been on the interwebs for a few years, but I never saw it. Anyways, it’s strikingly similar to my recipe (flip the spirit proportions and trade out the syrups & bitters). So, yay! Great minds think alike, I guess!