The Cranberry Negroni

The Bittman is a source of contention around here. Me, I don't think much about The Bitt one way or the other. I never read The Bitt's Minimalist column with regularity and have never understood the cult of his personality. He's just a goofy white guy who mostly cooks off-book, right? Who can't do that? Buy whatever's wholesome and on sale, go home and Google "easy [something you just bought] recipe," pick the one you can fudge the best and make. (At least, that's what I do.)

(Having said that, my new love is, which lets you search blogged-about recipes by ingredients you have/crave/dislike. And I'm not just saying that because this blog is included in the new Gojee Drinks database!)

Anyway, Sean hates The Bitt. What Sean has to say about The Bitt is, "He's just annoying and he seems like a hack. I don't understand why anybody cares what he has to say. I do not trust his authority. I feel like anyone could be Mark Bittman, he just happens to be the one, probably because he knows somebody or various other social injustices."

Yet I couldn't look away when a recent Bittman headline in the Times touted "A Radical Rethinking of Thanksgiving Leftovers." Just how "radical" were we talking here? Well, The Bitt had me at "pan-fried stuffing  cakes," and so I read until the end, where I was rewarded with the notion of a Cranberry Negroni. Or really, tortured by reading in print that The Bitt had come up with a way to sneak a cocktail into his list of 20 radicalizations, and WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT, DAMMIT?! DAMN THE BITT!! (I'm not the only one who feels this way, either.)

So yes, The Bitt's Cranberry Negroni is pretty wondrous and awesome in its simplicity (erm, minimalism) and I highly recommend it as a way to get rid of your cranberry sauce reserves. Using sauce instead of juice adds a little gritty texture to the cocktail that I found I quite liked until the very end of the drink, when it got to be a bit too much. Also, The Bitt says to mix equal parts cranberry sauce, gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, but when I did this I found that you really couldn't taste the cranberry, so I amped that up.

The Cranberry Negroni

(Adapted with minor additions from the New York Times Dining section)

About an ounce of cranberry sauce

About 1/2 ounce each of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth

Orange peel and/or dried cranberries, to garnish

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously to allow the cranberry sauce to mix well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel, and/or several dried cranberries speared onto a toothpick umbrella.

Tasting Notes

I have to try this with my World's Greatest Cosmopolitan.

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The Americano Highball

Readers, I know I walked out on you six weeks ago sans peep, leaving you high and dry (literally) like a (figurative) con man who says he's just stepping out for a pack of smokes, and I apologize fully and sincerely for the subsequent dormancy of this blog. Know this, though: That whole time I was gone, I did not cheat on you. Not ever. Not once.

Sure, my crazy, overpacked life since early May has included a cousin-in-law's Vermont nuptials complete with top-shelf Knob Creek behind the open bar; the debut of a wine bar and beer garden directly across the street from my apartment (the night they opened, they served me a cheese plate that contained a pat of butter disguised as a slice of white cheddar, and yeah, I bit into it, but you know, bygones); a random tipsy game night here and a solitary evening at home with a bottle of wine there. But no cocktails. I really went well over a month without drinking a proper cocktail. So what I'm saying is, maybe I'm an ass for disappearing like that, but I'm a faithful ass.

Today's the summer solstice, a time for forgiveness according to the Greek god of  things I just made up. So let's get back to business with a (four-day) week of summer cocktails. It's Summer Cocktail Week! Let us rejoice and be glad!

A summer cocktail is a peculiar thing. For one thing, it has a job to do besides inebriating. A summer cocktail must possess the wherewithal to slice through a humid haze, a feat easier said than drunk. A gin and tonic can do it. (Summertime is, in fact, the only time I ever bother with a gin and tonic.) Beer can do it, too, and often better, and so a summer cocktail's really gotta have game. To my mind, one of the best summer cocktails going is the Americano Highball.

An Americano Highball is basically a Negroni ratcheted down to mixed-drink status, with club soda filling in for the gin. Actually, I got that backwards; according to my ever-trusty How's Your Drink?, first Italy invented the Americano Highball and named it so because it was a huge hit with Yankee tourists, then Count Negroni asked his local bartender to figure out an Americano with more of a kick to it. Either way, that combination of Campari and sweet vermouth is an unbeatable heat-buster, a most perfect calibration of bitter and sweet with a nice, dry finish.

The Americano Highball

(Courtesy of How's Your Drink?)

1 1/2 ounces Campari

1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth

Soda water

Pour ingredients in given order into an ice-filled highball glass. Stir briskly for a few seconds at most. Garnish with orange peel and, summerishly, a drink umbrella.

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