There is nothing wrong with taking the easy way out, as long as you are honest about it. That’s what I am doing tonight. My school teachers probably would not believe it, but I actually used my time wisely today. One could argue that I did not plan well enough, but the time that got away from me today was well wasted. So, in the spirit of taking the time to enjoy the time you have won’t you join me as we stand and make the Montenegroni.

This one is a simply constructed, nearly equal parts stirred cocktail, reminiscent of the classic Negroni, a drink I have never made friends with, though I have desperately wanted to. The original was Anthony Bourdain’s favorite drink and I wanted to like the things he liked, but I just don’t appreciate the bitter in the same way he did. I wrote all about it in my Negroni article, if you are curious. If you haven’t read that one, you should, it is one of the better things I have written, I think. Way better than this “taking it easy” post. Meanwhile, the one we are making tonight is a riff on the drink created by Rudi Carraro, the brand ambassador for Amaro Montenegro. I backed off that wonderful Montenegro just a hair, because I like for the gin to push through a little more and I am not trying to sell anything.

This is a stirred drink, so grab your mixing pitcher and pop in nearly equal parts of gin, Montenegro and sweet vermouth. The differences in the recipe is 1/6 more Montenegro and 1/6 less vermouth. So to make things easy, add 1 ounce of gin, I chose Xoriguer de Mahon; a little more than an ounce of Amaro Montenegro and a little less than an ounce of sweet vermouth, I used Gallo. Add 4-6 ice cubes and stir to the beat of the theme from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“, performed by Hugo Montenegro and his Orchestra, of course. When well chilled, strain into a rocks glass over one big king cube, express an orange peel over the drink and toss it in as garnish.

This is honestly, a lot better than I expected. It makes sense, I really like Amaro Montenegro, but I am also very gun shy when it comes to the Negroni. The usual Campari throws me off. This is like a really good negroni, without that Campari kick in the teeth and a deeper more herbal flavor. That orange vanilla thing really matches that spanish gin, nicely. I need to remember this one as an alternative, so I can enjoy my own little homage to Mr. Bourdain, without the aftertaste.

So what was I doing instead of getting in the kitchen to make a drink for you, gentle reader? I was playing Scrabble with my wife, my mom and my 94 year old grandma. I don’t know why, but I have wanted to play for a long time and this afternoon things just fell into place. I played Scrabble a lot with grandma growing up. She let me begin sitting in on games well before I was ready for real play and I can probably thank her for a lot of the vocabulary and pattern recognition skills I have today. As I got older, she taught me more about the strategy of the game, about paying attention to the scoring and making sure I did not leave points on the board trying to be clever. As my skills progressed, so did the difficulty level. Playing Scrabble with the ladies in my life is a cutthroat business and they take no prisoners when the tiles are in play.

To be fair, it was actually Super Scrabble…

I have really missed those games. So when they asked if I wanted to play this afternoon, I cleared my schedule. Instead, of running off to work on the things I had planned on finishing this weekend, I settled in to play and laugh, without a look at the clock or anything else I was supposed to do this afternoon. There are a finite number of games left to us and those chores will still be there tomorrow. Hopefully we will play again soon and I can get the kid involved. When I was his age it was not unusual for us to have four generations sitting around that old board as great grandma schooled us. Maybe it is time for our boy to have his Gran-gran kick his butt and make him add up the points while she does it. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.