Friday Night Cocktail: Aperitifs and the Bamboo Cocktail
For one reason or another, most of my alcohol consumption lately has been in the form of wine, which means that cocktails have taken a back seat. But sometimes, even when I’ve already got a wine picked out for dinner, I have that itch that only a cocktail can scratch. For those times, it’s nice to have a roster of relatively-low-alcohol aperitifs, which leave my palate better equipped for the nuances of whatever wine I’m drinking with the meal — not to mention the food itself.
The best pre-prandial drinks are dry (sweetness shuts down your palate), lightly bitter (which wakes up your palate), or both. A typical aperitif for me may be nothing more than a simple Campari and soda, or an anise-y pastis and water. Other times, a glass of fortified or aromatized wine, like dry vermouth, Lillet or sherry, fits the bill. (My husband often teases me for treating vermouth as a non-alcoholic ingredient when I’m determining how much booze is in my cocktails.) But when you want something a little more complex, you can do worse than combining a couple of the above and adding a dash or two of bitters, like the Bamboo Cocktail does.
How to make a Bamboo Cocktail
- 1.5 oz. dry vermouth: Make sure the bottle has been opened recently (i.e., within the past couple of months), and stored in the fridge, preferably sealed with some kind of vacuum system. As a rule, I prefer Noilly Prat as my dry vermouth.
- 1.5 oz. dry sherry: Ditto. I’ve been drinking Alvear Amontillado lately.
- 2-3 dashes of bitters of your choice, or a combination of two or more types (2 dashes of orange bitters and one of Angostura is a good place to start)
Stir with ice for a good 20 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy using sherry as a cocktail ingredient. One of the great things about it is how interchangeable it is: replacing a fino with an amontillado certainly produces a different drink, but it’s often just as good. Of course, it’s usually best to switch sweet for sweet and dry for dry, unless you can otherwise control the sugar balance. I wouldn’t recommend using cream sherry instead of amontillado in the Bamboo, for example, but swapping in a fino, a manzanilla or even a dry oloroso would be fine, if that’s what you happen to have.
What’s your favourite pre-dinner drink?