Everyone has secrets, this is known, Khaleesi. We all keep things buried inside that we do not share with the world, sometimes we do not even share them with ourselves. I try to be pretty open with everyone about most things. I like to say I have no secrets, but that is a lie. My mind is filled with little bits I choose not to share about myself, but more often the thoughts remain secret because they are not mine to share. As much as I try to be open about myself, I will straight lie to your face in order to protect someone else’s secret. Is that right? I don’t know. I did not make the rules. Hell, I wasn’t even here when the game started, but I play my hand the way I was taught. So, in honor of the secrets kept and those spilled along the way, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Clandestine.
I am currently enamored with Italicus Bergamot liqueur, so I have been experimenting with it quite a bit and trying every cocktail I find that features it. This aperitif was created by Simon Difford at London’s, Cabinet Room. Simon has written many books and he’s the same guy who runs the amazing cocktail resource, Difford’s Guide for Discerning Drinkers. It is one of my go-to sources for cocktail recipes and information on different ingredients, be sure to check it out, at your leisure.
Grab your mixing tin and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of Dewar’s 12 year old Scotch, 1/2 an ounce of that bitter Suze gentian liqueur, 1/3 of an ounce of Italicus bergamot liqueur and 1/6 of an ounce of honey syrup. Add ice and give it a stir to the beat of “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell, as a nod to the drink’s unusual title. When things are well chilled and you have some good dilution going on, strain into a rocks glass over a king cube, express an orange peel over the top and toss it in for garnish.
That’s a lovely mix. The honeyed scotch herbal thing is reminiscent of a Rusty Nail or maybe even a Bonnie Prince Charles, but with far more depth and interest. That Suze brings a hard bitter finish, but the citrus of the bergamot hangs on in the aftertaste. There’s a lot going on in this drink and that is a good thing. It is interesting how the flavors sort of come in waves as one recedes and another advances. Good stuff.
I have no idea why Mr. Difford chose to name this drink the Clandestine, perhaps it was first served to a couple meeting in his bar for nefarious purposes. That would make sense. He had just mixed up this drink with wonderful promise, sweet, complex and fun in the beginning, but with a bitter finish fading to a lightly bittersweet aftertaste, but what to call it? As he stood there, staring into the distance looking for inspiration, he saw her across the room. The way she reached out to touch the man’s arm, that tentative familiarity. They both had rings on their left hand, matching ones of untanned flesh, the golden circlets conspicuous in their absence. Being a gentleman of discretion, he poured up the drink and presented it to them, on the house; before going back to his notes, thankful for the inspiration. That could have happened and it has a certain symmetry. A drink named for a secret, inspired by one not well hidden. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “There are no secrets better kept than the secrets everybody guesses.” Why not, there is no point talking about the secret everyone already suspects, or at least that’s what I heard. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.