The Garden Negroni: A crisp, fresh take on the classic aperitif

Sometimes you need a strong, bitter drink even if it's hot and you're pool-side.

Example:

Summer isn't even near done but my vacation time is down to its last few hours.

You know that feeling? The one when you realize your next long break is smack-jam in the middle of the not-so-relaxing holiday season?

Enough whining. I was lucky to get away to San Francisco for a great getaway with my partner and to enjoy not one but two cottages over the last two weeks. 

So whether you're looking for a stiff summer drink to extend those last few moments of bliss or to bitterly (but with summer in mind) prepare yourself for the grind, I've worked out a fun, light and crisp version of the negroni that's pool and picnic approved. 

While in SF, my buddy Jesse (find him at WiskeyWrites!) gifted me a bottle of Bonal, a chartreuse-style liqueur made with quinine, gentiana and distilled to a hearty, crisp bitter aperitif. Think of it as a lighter, brownish yellow Campari. 

I took it back to Montreal with me knowing fully well I'd be hitting up the liquor store to get a bottle of the Domaine Lafrance Rouge Gorge White Cider Vermouth.

I've written about their red cider vermouth (perfect in Boulevardiers or on ice) before. This white cider vermouth is just as intriguing. It's bold on the apple front and strikes notes similar to ice wine in its sweetness. It's also carefully balanced with herbs (elderflower, fennel, raspberry leaves, etc.)

I already had an unopened bottle of Radoune at home, one of the Gaspésie region's first locally-sourced and distilled gins. The spirit is made by O'Dwyer Micro-Distillerie and boasts a surprisingly light taste that's counterbalanced by the earthiness of the five wild mushroom varieties used to make the gin. I knew from the moment I tasted the French Bonal it would pair perfectly well with this bottle of home-grown talent.

To nail the garden negroni, however, I wanted to give it a bit more natural sweetness and amp up the brightness. 

For me, the Negroni is a delicious, soothing, sexy cocktail to wrap up a night with. I wanted to create something that could withstand the summer sun. 

I infused a few ounces of Radoune Gin with a small handful of locally-grown basil leaves and a slice of lemon for two hours. Just enough to give it a bit more brightness without cancelling out the warm, earthy tones. 

The three spirits mixed extraordinarily well and formed a cocktail I think can rival your boozy patio favourites. Give it a try an let me know what you think.

Photo 2017-07-03, 6 33 35 PM.jpg

INGREDIENTS

1 oz Radoune Gin (infused with homegrown basil and lemon)
1 oz Domaine Lafrance Rouge Gorge White Cider Vermouth
1 oz Bonal
Optional: 0.5 oz elderflower syrup (for those who like it sweet)

METHOD

  1. Add all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir well (30 seconds).
  2. Pour over ice.
  3. Garnish with basil leaves and/or a lemon slice.

For those of you looking for extra sweetness, feel free to add a bit more of the White Cider Vermouth or add 0.5 oz of elderflower syrup. It can also turn into a fun Spritz-like base when added to soda water if you want to pace yourself.