But this past weekend, that’s just what I did – I mixed gin with three different red apéritifs (Dubonnet Rouge, Campari, and sweet vermouth), in three classic cocktails: The Dubonnet, the Negroni, and the Gin and It.
The results were delicious.
Here Dubonnet, a classic French wine-based apéritif, is mixed with an equal measure of gin and garnished with a lemon twist. The Dubonnet gives the drink a rich, spicy port wine flavor, with a hint of bitterness (Dubonnet Rouge contains quinine, the stuff that gives tonic water its zip). This cocktail is said to have been a favorite of the late Queen Mother.
(makes one drink)
A drink with a story: The Negroni is fabled to have been invented in Florence around 1919, by a count who wanted his Americano with an extra kick, prompting the bartender to add a measure of gin. The spicy, herbal, and deliciously bitter flavor of Campari really shines through in this heady cocktail.
The “It” in this recipe is Italian vermouth. A super-simple combination of basic bar staples - but so surprisingly good, I wondered why I'd never tried it before.
A Note on Preparation: Recipe variations abound. I’ve found each of these drinks alternately shaken, stirred, built over ice in a rocks glass, and/or with an added splash of club soda (especially in the case of the strongly bitter Negroni). But my personal preference for all three - especially in these last days of winter - is straight up in a cocktail glass.
Do you have any favorite gin-based cocktails?
Related: Spotlight on Gin: Some New Favorites
(Images: Nora Maynard)