The Auteur Cocktail
New paths to cocktail creation
For many, the process of creating a new cocktail can start simply with making a variation on a classic. But for some of the best bartenders, crafting a drink is more like writing a composite based on an intense knowledge of spirits, modifiers and flavor combinations.
During a recent jaunt to Brooklyn bar Dram, I asked my bartender, Mayur Subbarao, for a bartender's choice. What he came up with completely on the fly could not have been a better drink for that moment. Starting with Kronan Swedish punsch, a sweet rum and spice-based liqueur, Mayur took the sulfury "hogo funk" of that spirit and added an orange note to it. Enter Bittermens Amère Nouvelle, a bitter orange, gentian and spiced aperitif now being produced by Bittermens Spirits in the style of a French Amer Picon, except it's made in Brooklyn. Noticing that we still did not have a traditional base spirit (gin, rum, whiskey) for this drink, Mayur explained his theory. "Bases have the widest diversity, so it's best to determine your flavor first and then pick a base. The myriad craft base spirits don't necessarily indicate flavor or a focus for the cocktail."
To round out this drink, Mayur added a bit more bitterness with an Italian amaro, Ramazotti, to give the drink more "umph" and only then decided to go with gin as the base spirit, finishing with a barspoon of Yellow Chartreuse for complexity. Stirred and served up in a coupe, this drink does not resemble any classic, but is a prime example of the new and exciting discoveries that can be made in composing cocktail recipes, especially when utilizing the wine range of liqueurs and hand-crafted spirits that are becoming increasingly available. Enjoy.
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- Combine ingredients in a chilled mixing glass and stir with ice for 15 seconds.
- Strain into chilled coupe and serve. No garnish necessary.