It’s been a relatively austere day, so I’m feeling a bit of a craving for something smooth and sweet. I’m all for moderation, in moderation, but sometimes you need a little something special for yourself. So, please join me now as we stand and make the Pignoli Alexander.
This drink was created by Leandro DiMonriva host of “The Educated Barfly” and professional fella behind the bar at Cole’s French Dip in LA. If you haven’t checked out his stuff on YouTube, I recommend it highly. The drink is based on his childhood memories of grabbing sweet Italian cookies, probably from Mike’s, when he went to Boston’s North End to watch soccer games with his dad. His dad would get him the cookies to keep him occupied while he enjoyed the game. As an adult he chased the flavor profile of these little chocolate orange cookies and built it into this cocktail.
This one is sort of a two parter, so let’s mix the drink first. Grab your mixing pitcher and pop in 2 ounces of spiced rum, I went with Kraken, 1/2 an ounce of creme de cacao, 1/2 an ounce of Cointreau and 2 stabs of Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters. Add ice and stir well to the beat of Bucky Pizzarelli and Pearl Django’s version of “I’ll See You in My Dreams”. Strain into a chilled coupe or something like that and set to the side. Now grab your tins and pop in 2-3 ounces of heavy cream and the spring off your hawthorn strainer and give that a good shake, probably 30 seconds or so. You are going for a soft peaks sort of consistency, so if it isn’t there yet go again. You want it to be pourable, but firm, kind of like ketchup. When you achieve something in that neighborhood, pour it over the back of your barspoon on top of the drink and garnish with some shaved chocolate.
Well, isn’t that lovely. Deceptive, as well. It opens as this amazingly creamy chocolate orange thing with a great spiced rum finish. That finish can be surprisingly hot with that 94 proof rum, but I like it. Just don’t get all cocky with a big slug of it, like I did. This one balances nicely and is a great pick me up at the end of a long day.
I love the history of this one. It is so true that food and drink can take you back to a place. I know that when I smell cinnamon baking, I’m six years old again, standing in Grandma’s kitchen, waiting for cinnamon toast to come out of the oven for breakfast before catching the bus. If it’s cold there is probably hot chocolate in my Tom & Jerry mug and I’m sure Ralph Emery is on the television in the den. I can see, smell and feel that kitchen forever stuck in that moment in the 70’s. I’m sure if you think about it you have the same experience. Maybe it’s tamales, maybe it’s Chef Boy-ar-dee, maybe it’s a glass of Tang. Whatever it is, the thought, scent or taste will take you back to a lost place. Cherish those memories and every once in a while, indulge yourself. You only love once, if you’re lucky. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.