What a man chooses to drink can tell you a lot about him. We asked our trusted advisors Peter Bonventre and John Jannuzzi what they’re ordering (or mixing up themselves) this summer.
Not that I’d want this to get around, but every now and then I get a kick out of imbibing one of those tall, sweet concoctions that come with a tiny umbrella. Essentially, though, I’m a basic-cocktail kind of guy—Martini, Manhattan, Vodka Gimlet, Perfect Rob Roy, all of ‘em straight-up and properly garnished. My favorite is an Old Fashioned, and I see no reason to quit drinking this marvelous nectar just because the temperature is on the rise. So I improvise. But before I share my recipe for a summer Old Fashioned, I’d also like to recommend a classic cocktail that was invented by an Italian count and a white wine from Argentina. Each will add its own special zest to a balmy evening, whether you’re alone or entertaining friends.
Few cocktails are easier to make than a Negroni, a red-hued charmer that looks as tantalizing as it tastes. In a mixing glass with ice, pour an ounce each of gin, sweet vermouth (Campano Antica, preferably), and Campari (a bitter aperitif). Stir lovingly, then strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and add an orange peel. A few sips into this refreshingly tart elixir, and it won’t be hard to imagine you’re catching a warm breeze somewhere on the Amalfi Coast.
If you favor white wine, try locking your lips on a cold glass of Crios Torrantes (any vintage). It’s big and rich with hints of citrus that lend a note of sweetness. Great with seafood. Hell, you can drink this baby any old time. To steal a line from Mel Brooks, your tongue will throw a party for your mouth!
As promised, here’s my formula for a kick-ass summer Old Fashioned: Coat the bottom of a double Old Fashioned glass with a teaspoon of simple syrup and three dashes of Angostura bitters, then add four ounces of bourbon (my choice: Buffalo Trace), a few ice cubes, and top it off with four ounces of club soda and a generous splash of ginger ale. Garnish with an orange peel and a maraschino cherry (Tillen Farms, please). Finally, add a teaspoon of the cherry juice and stir gently. Now take it outside to your patio or terrace, and turn on Sinatra and Basie swinging to classics like “Fly Me To The Moon” and “Learnin’ the Blues.” You’ll soon swear that all is right with the world.
I love a good drink. I love when people buy them for me. I love when people give them to me for free. I like them mid-day, early in the evening and late at night. And I certainly won’t let a winter’s day smudge my desire for a summer spirit. But, when it comes to the libation itself, I haven’t time for ingredients and fancy garnish. I’m a purist – I like alcohol in a glass.
So, what has this purist been drinking, you ask? Lately: tequila. You can fill up on whatever you please, but for me it’s tequila blanco (the clear one), on the rocks – for a few years now, actually. I like the marriage of clear alcohol and glass, cubes gently glistening in my pre-drunk or well-on-my-way gaze.
My brand? Well, Steely Dan can have their Cuervo Gold. I prefer to keep the hazy memories and earth shattering hangovers of college far from my lips, thank you. Most restaurants I frequent will have Don Julio or Patron, both of which are satisfactory. However, I prefer Herradura Silver above all. It’s not too expensive, made from only the finest blue agave, and goes down smooth… like a Mexican vacation. Serve it with one giant ice cube (boil the water before freezing to get a perfectly clear cube), and a lime wedge (fruit shortage be damned).
When I do stray from tequila and pick up a cocktail menu, my eyes tend to scan for my most familiar and favored spirits. (I won’t, for example, turn down a good margarita). And even though I haven’t the talents to muddle, mix, and shake with the best of them, I can certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into a well-crafted concoction.
But until I splurge for that mixology class or crack a book, simplicity is my game. So bring over a bottle and let’s imbibe pre-Prohibition-style. After all, being able to drink the drink is still the most enviable skill, and I’m pretty good at emptying my glass.