It was a Sunday morning like any other. One of those overcast October mornings we know so well, perhaps even a trifle warm for the season. We’d had two day straight of light rain, as the remnants of Hurricane Delta slowly passed over. I was, minding my own business, drinking coffee, with YouTube providing random jazz as I contemplated the crossword. It was at that precise moment that an exuberant Australian fella popped into my feed and changed the course of my next few moments, forever. At his suggestion, I made a cocktail and now you can too, if you’ll join me now as we stand and make the Bitter Giuseppe.
They called him Steve the Bartender and I’d seen him around before, even made a couple of his drinks. I always liked him. The way he shook his tins, as if to accentuate that he’d been working out, while the rest of us were lounging on the sofa watching videos. He had an infectious smile, too. Though, I now wonder if we should drop that expression from the lexicon? It’s so hard to know what to say or do during these “unprecedented times.” It had occurred to me that I should make a drink today, but I didn’t have anything in mind, so why not go with this random beverage served up by the universal algorithm and Steve with the smiling biceps? I had all the ingredients, including a thirst and time to kill, so why not?
Grab your mixing pitcher and toss in 2 ounces of Cynar, that wonderfully bitter artichoke based Italian amaro; 3/4 of an ounce of sweet vermouth, I chose Gallo; 1/2 an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice and 6 stabs of Regan’s Orange Bitters. Add ice and stir to the beat of “Mistakes” by Lake Street Dive. I love, love, love them. If you don’t make the drink at least check out the band. You can thank me later. When your drink is well chilled and has a bit of dilution, strain over one big rock in a rocks glass. Express a lemon peel over it and garnish with the peel or maybe a dehydrated lemon wheel or both, like I did, though that feels a bit extra.
This one is weird. The aroma is wonderful, the first sip is bright and has an almost cola thing going on, but just as the pleasure begins to register that bitter amaro kicks you right in the tonsils. I don’t hate that. It was just really pronounced in the first few sips. As the ice continued to dilute it, the ride smoothed out and became more balanced, but that first sip was kinda shocking. My opinion on the drink changed almost as quickly as the drink itself. I was intrigued but not crazy about it but the more I had, the more I enjoyed it.
So, we have a couple of morals to choose from today. We could go with the whole, don’t make snap judgements or you might miss out on something good thing. That would be easy to back up, I could tie it back to the music and say something, like if you don’t care for “Mistakes” listen to their cover of “I Want You Back” or “You Go Down Smooth” or my favorite “Good Kisser”. That would bookend nicely. Or, if your feeling xenophobic you could go with something about not taking advice from foreigners, even if they are charming Australian chaps. Of course, that would be a problematic lesson and not much of a moral at all. I’d have to explain how there aren’t really any foreigners, how we are all part of the family of humanity. How no matter what religion you aspire to including, none at all, the idea of “love your neighbor” and “do unto others” is anathema to xenophobia and even the idea of “the other”. Yeah, I’m not feeling that, besides I’ve heard that trying to teach people to just be decent humans is a bit of a losing battle and more than I am feeling up to on a Sunday morning, even fortified with this excellent drink. So, y’all don’t judge any books by their covers, or something like that. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.