The Remix to Ignition

Did you know today's National Hangover Awareness Day? I did as of 90 seconds ago! Which is when I saw a tweet about the more-a-promotional-stunt-than-actual-commemorative-day Day. Although it makes sense, when you read the press release think about it: The Monday after the Super Bowl, in fact, clocks more calls in sick to work than any other day of the year.

If there were an official Five O'Clock Press Release in response to the NHAD press release, nobody would read it it would read:

"We here at the blog appreciate that easing up on the gas can be a wise move for some, fo' sho'. We also encourage imbibers to experience many different kinds of alcoholic highs; all the better to one day happen upon the hangover that works best for you! So don't kill the headlights and put it in neutral, bros! Instead, try downshifting just a gear or two and spending your post-Bowl happy hour with an enjoyable, easygoing, 100% vino-derived cocktail, comprised entirely of lovely aperitifs and fortified wines. No harsh liquors or swilly beers that'll stick in your craw come morning! We like to think of it as the Remix to Ignition*: A newly jiggered kind of cocktail with a pleasant, rounded buzz, definitely not a buzzkill!"

*No lawsuitable copyright infringiness intended towards His Eminence R. Kelly, composer of said musical masterpiece in question, "Ignition (Remix)." That's actually one of my all-time favorite songs. It reminds me of my old friend Mike, whose levels of inebriation could be calibrated thusly: Level I - fake British accent. Level II - Choosing this song at karaoke. Level III - Roaring like a lion. Level IV - Destroying other people's mailboxes. Level V - Throwing own TV off balcony. If only he'd drank a Remix to Ignition before singing the remix to Ignition... think of all the poor mailboxes that would've been saved.

The Remix to Ignition

3 ounces Lillet

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1/2 ounce port

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake (no need for over-vigorousness), strain into stemless wine glass that's got a few handsome ice cubes a-waiting in it.

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The Rinfrescante Italiano

I want to say two words to you. Just two words. Are you listening?

Aperitifs, digestifs.

There's a great future in aperitifs and digestifs. I don't just mean that in a Benjamin-Braddock-searching-for-meaning-in-the-60s-oh-I-get-it-she's-referencing-The Graduate kind of way. Italian liqueurs are mega-trendy big right now and I say good on it, because they're relatively cheap (~$20 a bottle, less for vermouths), a little goes a long way, they're becoming easily available, they have the best ad posters, they were born to make nice in endless kinds of cocktail recipes, and once you start you'll want to collect them and play with them and come up with neat at-home displays for them like you used to do with your Smurfs.

The Rinfrescante Italiano is the first cocktail we've come up with in house to make use of our new-favorite toy/aperitif, Aperol, which is like a lighter-bodied version of Campari. Like yesterday's Champagne Julep, it's a fizzer. With the Aperol's bittersweetness and the bubbly's carbonation mixed together, Sean's cousin Chris said it tasted like an Italian soda, hence its given nomenclature, "the refreshing Italian."

(Speaking of Chris' toys, I must interrupt myself here to explain what you're seeing in the pic above, a gift he received for Christmas. It is basically a six-sided jigger, with each side recessed to a certain degree, such that each in effect works like a pyramid-shaped liquid measuring cup. It appears from the online homework I've done that Chris' comes from Vat19.com. It blew me away at  first look but disappointed me at first try, mainly because it is very awkward to pour. You know how sometimes have to pour something from a cup into another container and if you don't pour at just the right speed the liquid winds up cascading down the side of your cup and not into its intended receptacle? That's what happened here, unless I poured from the jigger while holding it with two hands, in effect making me feel like a toddler trying to pour her own milk for the first time. Yes, the cube jigger has corners that kinda look like they should work like spouts, 'cept they kinda don't. I'd much rather have me a single, classically designed jigger with several easily visible notches inside.)

Oh! And, back to the Rinfrescante, it has applejack, aka Jersey Lightning, which was my street name in high school is like a super-strong, apple-based brandy. Chris and his cohorts had some lying around, and that's another liquor you're going to hear a lot about in the coming year, and another one I'd been dying to try for a while, 'cept that in Fronche Canada you have to settle for (equally awesome) Calvados.

The Rinfrescante Italiano

1 ounce Laird's applejack brandy

1/2 ounce Aperol

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

About 3 ounces Champagne or sparkling white wine

Lemon twist, to garnish

Pour applejack, Aperol and lemon juice into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled Champagne flute. Top off with Champagne. Garnish with lemon twist.

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The Apropos

What Santa didn't bring me for Christmas this last year, I got for myself at The Wine Library back in the States, including two key ingredients for The Apropos: 1) the Italian aperitif Aperol, Campari's genteel cousin: lighter in color and alcohol content, but produced by the same parent company (nowadays, not originally); 2) yellow Chartreuse -- likewise, not as strong as the better-known green Chartreuse -- which was actually on the wish list of a bartending friend back in Canadia. (By the way, remind me never to tell you about the time the PhoBlograpHusband and I managed to transport a double-digit number of booze bottles across the border by being completely honest with the customs guard. I don't know who reads this blog.)

The Apropos' recipe is another one I spied at SeriousEats.com and held onto because I liked the sound of it, being a twist on the Negroni and similarly elegant in its simplicity. Its dry sweetness makes it a perfect aperitif for just about anyone, while its coral hue means it'd be a good tipple to try on that friend of yours whom you've resolved to turn into a real cocktail drinker in 2012 -- you know, the one who still orders Cosmoplitans. (Yeah, like it's still the mid-90s. Gorsh, how about voting for Newt Gingrich too while you're at it, you Monica/Rachel/Pheebs?!)

The Apropos

(Taken pretty much straight-up from SeriousEats, which in turn got the recipe from Gramercy Tavern)

1 1/2 ounces Bombay London Dry Gin

1 ounce Aperol

1/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Orange twist, to garnish

Combine all liquidingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.

Tasting Notes

The Gramercy recipe calls for the drink to be strained into an ice-filled higball glass, but since I like my Negronis up, I did the same here.

You probably did not hear it here first, but Italian liqueurs were huge in 2011 and are gonna be huger in '12. We'll talk more about that later, but getting yourself a bottle of Aperol (only $20 and the label is so classic and lovely to look at!) is a good start.

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