Cocktails don’t have to be complicated. They often are and I dearly love something with lots of ingredients and techniques, but there is a lot to be said for simplicity. Simple drinks are often even more challenging to build correctly than the complicated ones. When you have lots of ingredients, some of the details may get lost, but when you only have three components, a heavy hand with one of them or poor quality in another will reveal itself immediately. I was looking for something light and easy on the palate this evening, so I took a nod to one of my wife’s favorite spirits to make a riff on one of the early cocktails. Won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Amaretto Fizz.

Fizzes have been around a long time. They are an evolution of the classic Sour, basically this is a sour with club soda or some other sparkling water added. The bubbles make them fizzy, it makes sense. Jerry Thomas makes the first recorded mention of them with four recipes in the appendix of the updated 1876 edition of his 1862 classic, “Bartender’s Guide or How to Mix Drinks“. The composition is a spirit, citrus juice and carbonated water. There can be more added, but no less than these three ingredients. Our drink this evening sticks with this simplest version.

We are going to build this one in the glass, so grab something appropriate. I made mine in some pretty cut glass stemware, but this one would be better served in a highball or a collins glass. I went for form over function because I was not thinking clearly, or maybe I was just going with that whole “make it pretty” thing that so many drink blogs and pinterest posts succumb to. I mean, it is pretty, with those layers and subtle coloring changes, but you have to stir it to enjoy it and it would be better to sip on in a taller glass with more ice and fewer beautifully light catching facets. The error was mine, and I apologize.

Whichever glass you choose, please fill it now with some artisanal ice cubes and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of amaretto I chose DiSaronno, add 3/4 of an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice and top with club soda or sparkling water, approximately 4-6 ounces. Garnish with a lemon wedge or do as I did and pop a dehydrated lemon wheel on the side of the wrong glass. Isn’t it beautiful with that exquisite layering? To properly enjoy it though, you are going to have to mix things up, so slip a paper straw in and stir to the gentle sound of Enigma’s “Mea Culpa” as an act of contrition and reverence for those days when we rocked it to Gregorian chants laid on sweet beats with breathy French lyrics floating over it all to lend a certain air of mystery.

Perfectly balanced, light, citrusy, with a lingering sweetness from the amaretto. This one is perfect for a spring afternoon, but it will serve on this chilly evening by the fire. Experiment with this one, add more or less lemon to see how you like the changes, swap in a different liqueur or spirit. The fizz is a great base to kick off from. This class is often associated with New Orleans and the most famous example, the Ramos Gin Fizz, but there are many others, the Easy Street Fizz and Grey Fizz come to mind immediately. Many would argue that the classic Tom Collins is just a gin fizz in a taller glass and they would be mostly correct. The differences are so subtle that most drinkers would not be able to tell one from the other and most bartenders don’t bother to make the Collins with Old Tom sweetened genever, anyway.

There you go, a simple drink for a quiet evening at home, playing cards or chess by the fire with some 90’s Enigma playing on the phonograph. This one feels classy, like I should put on my smoking jacket and slippers to enjoy it. Not that I got the chance. Laura grabbed this one and did not let go, it is, clearly, right up her alley. A little sweet, with a bitter bite on the backend and just enough sour brightness to keep things interesting. Sounds like the sort of thing, or person, she would love. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.