One of the cool things about this “Cocktails from Quarantine” journey has been the discovery of new ingredients and techniques. While I have no practical, real world way to use these new skills, unless someone is looking for a guest lecturer to teach their cocktail classes, I have really enjoyed expanding my horizons and trying new things. I was already digging on bitters and liqueurs, but over the past year, I have learned way more about the bitter amaros than I ever expected to. For the most part I did not like them. I understood the concepts and I got why other people enjoyed them, but they just weren’t my thing. It is kind of like wine, I often enjoy wine, but I don’t really understand it the way true aficionados do. I get why terroir matters, in all things, but I am lost when it comes to the nuts and bolts of pairings and why this grape brings that flavor. My early experiences with amaros were mostly centered around bartending buddies who all seem to eventually gravitate toward the bitter side of the table and delight in creating “handshake” drinks made to turn the tongues of unsuspecting dilettantes inside out. My own tentative steps into amaros have only served to show me the depths of my ignorance, but I am beginning to get it. There is something really lovely hiding just beyond the sorrow in the depths of bitterness. So, in the spirit of expanding our horizons, won’t you please join me as we stand and make the Braulio Sour.
This drink has a boring origin story, as least as far as we are concerned here. The actual first creation may have been terribly exciting and full of intrigue as a cold war era spy smuggled a bottle of Braulio across the Alps to a hidden lab behind the iron curtain where it was combined with a Soviet Super Rye, beet sugar from Siberia, a hybrid lemon created in the famed citrus labs of Gdansk and the white of an ostrich egg, before being served in a Czarist Fabérge Egg that once held Anastasia’s tears. Sadly, the details of this story have been lost to time, allegedly. I stumbled across an uncited version after doing a search for “Braulio Cocktails” to try to figure out how to use the bottle I had just purchased to make the “Song of the Siren.” I don’t generally buy a bottle for a single drink, but sometimes I make an error and/or fall in love with a label. This time I did both, but things worked out.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of rye, I chose James E. Pepper 1776; 3/4 of an ounce of Braulio Amaro, 1/2 an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 egg white or 3/4 of an ounce of aquafaba and 2 drops of 18-21 Prohibition Bitters. Seal your tins and give it a good dry shake for 30-45 seconds to the beat of “Call Me” by St. Paul & the Broken Bones. Pop your tins open carefully, some pressure may have built up, add ice and give it another shake till your tins are cold. Strain into a modified Nick & Nora and garnish with some rosemary from the porch garden.
This is nice, unique, herbal, and it really leans into it’s alpine origins. You get a pine thing, maybe a little honey. It is smooth and creamy, with a good mouthfeel. The funny thing is, the usually strong flavor for the 1776 rye just sort of steps into the background on this one. That really surprised me. Just taking a sip of the Braulio it is really nice, but it doesn’t kick you in the teeth or anything. I really did not expect it to be so assertive in the mix.
That is a nice intro to this amaro. If I had been paying attention I probably would not have bought this bottle in the first place. Sure, I was infatuated with the label, it’s a pretty bottle. The thing is, I “needed” it to make that Song of the Siren, granted I only need 1/4 of an ounce to float on top of that drink, which I could have probably done with Fernet Menta or Strega or Cynar or any number of other alcohols I have added to the collection to cover other “needs”. Which is kind of funny, since one of the things that this year has made abundantly clear is how little stuff we actually “need”. As it turns out, we don’t need stuff, we need connection. It’s all about the people in your life, but we already knew that. So, instead of sitting here trying to figure out how to sound profound while saying something we all knew already, I’m gonna sign off, grab the phone and touch base with some old friends. I apologize for hanging you out to dry, metaphorically, gentle readers, but you know how it is. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.