Better Life

Rotgut Ingenuity: Romance in Three Cocktails

Eau de Quête, the Green Goblin’s Ambrosia and Threshold Punch.

As the calendar flips to February, my mind turns to two things: travel and romance. I’m not talking your run-of-the-mill Poconos weekend and candy hearts, mind you. I’m talking travel and romance rooted in the adventurer’s spirit, the kind of intrepid quest famously heralded in Arthurian tales of chivalry.

Knights tasked with quests to fend off evil, heading on faraway journeys at the behest of a damsel, with the hopes of returning to the castle free of wounds and filled with a renewed sense of spirit and a deepened character.

Today, my countrymen favor February as a time for a weekend’s escape to warmer climate or a snowy mountain sport paradise. As you prepare to set out on travels of your own, be they romantic, adventurous, or god-willing both, arm yourself with these three cocktails for each stage of your trek.


Eau de Quête

Stage One: Quest

Bolstered with something crisp and refreshing, you, Sir Knight, must feel that you can face anything. And with the bittersweet scent of a fair maiden’s perfume sending your heart aflutter, you’ll be doubly motivated to set out on your crusade. As you voyage, have your flask filled and pick a blood orange from your lady-maid’s tree (or local Whole Foods Market)—as the perfect Negroni will keep you steadfast on your travels.


3-parts dry gin
1½-parts Campari
1½-parts Carpano Antica
A twist of blood orange peel (add a wedge on the side for extra sweetness)

Pour contents of flask over ice. Garnish with the blood orange.


Green Goblin’s Ambrosia

Stage Two: Test

In the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, green symbolizes the mythological creature that Sir Gawain must fend off, while scholars have argued the Green Knight himself represents the devil. As you endeavor, you may find yourself bedeviled by unforeseen obstacles but, as we all know, adventure doesn’t truly begin until plans go awry—and, like any well-prepared adventurer, you’re prepared for anything. Which is why you’ll undoubtedly be armed with a flask of rye whiskey and chartreuse, along with your trusty sidearm: the absinthe atomizer.

As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make this take on a Sazerac.


2½-parts rye whiskey
½-part Chartreuse
1 spritz from an absinthe atomizer
1 lemon
1 raw sugar packet

Add the contents of your flask to an absinthe-washed glass, bottomed by a sugar packet. Squeeze the wedge of a lemon into said glass and garnish with the peel. Top with ice.


Threshold Punch

Stage Three: Return

You’ve done it. You sought the holy grail. Slayed the dragon. Survived no less than three booby traps. While you wisely left that humble cup in the Turkish cave where it lies—rest assured your damsel is no less eagerly awaiting your return with a punch bowl at the ready, filled with this holy water of another kind…


1 bottle of brut champagne
2-cups dry white wine
3 raw sugar packets
2 cinnamon sticks
1-tablespoon ground anise
The juice of 1 blood orange
6 wedges cut from second blood orange

Add all ingredients to a punch bowl with ice. Stir with a ladle. Serves one thirsty knight and one de-girdled damsel, or four-to-six serfs.