The more things change the more they stay the same or so they say. It sure feels that way lately. I grew up in a world where the tenuous peace of the cold war depended on the concept of “mutually assured destruction”, as MAD as that sounds. That is how we lived, though. They had enough missiles to destroy us many times over and we had even more than they did. Everyone knew that they could not push the button because no one would survive if it ever came to that. It is a particularly unsettling way to live. Knowing that every little provocation came with the threat that life as you know it can be destroyed completely on the whim of a madman. So with a look back to a way of life I through we had learned better than, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Final Countdown.
There is another cocktail with this name, but it is well less known, since it is simply The Last Word with champagne added. I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, except it messes with one of the world’s most perfectly balanced cocktails. The one we are doing today is a Negroni riff created by Mitchell “Kai” Lum, bartender at Vertigo TOO in Bangkok. It was put together in 2016 for the Cherry Hearing Classic Challenge, which asked bartenders to pick a classic cocktail and use Chery Heering to create a modern classic with a twist. Which explains one of the surprising ingredients in this build.
Grab your mixing pitcher and toss in 1 ounce of bourbon, I chose Four Roses; 1/2 an ounce of Cherry Heering, 1/3 of an ounce of a bittersweet red aperitif, I leaned into the bitter and used Campari, though Aperol might be a better choice; and 1/6 of an ounce of Fernet Branca. Add some artisan ice cubes and stir to the beat of “The Final Countdown” by Europe, because, well, how could you not? When well chilled, strain tins a waiting coupe and garnish with a luxardo cherry on a pick.
I don’t know if it is art, but I like it. The cherry pairs with the bourbon to make a nice top note that tries to balance all that bitter bottom end from the Campari and the Fernet. In retrospect, the Aperol would have been a better choice, but I was sort of craving a Ferrari shot (1/2 Fernet 1/2 Campari) anyway. Mine was particularly bitter, which I enjoyed, but was probably a disservice to the drink. Hopefully you will make better choices than I always have.
Mutually assured destruction. I had not thought about that in a long time, but recent events bring it a little too close to home. Though, they have always been there, it has been a while since we had to take threats nuclear war too seriously. Of course, people always talked about “the nuclear option” usually referring to a choice so dire that no sane person would make it. It became shorthand for going too far, you know, something too ridiculous to actually consider like Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the Oscars. Which got me to thinking about the tenuous balance that so many of us have in our personal lives as well. How many of our friendships have the specter of mutually assured destruction sort of hanging out there in the distance. My closest friends and I are all that way. We joke that we have to take care of each other and work through things, since we know too much. It’s just a joke though, we know we can count on each other, even when things are tough, that when caught between a rock and a hard place, we have each other. So, as those old threats of going nuclear fly around once again, turn to those you know you can count on, the ones who love you no matter what, and hold on to them. It may not change the way things go, but at least when they burn down your world, you won’t be alone and there is a lot to be said for that. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.