Thursday, February 12, 2015

Massimo d’Azeglio Fizz: A light cocktail for the afternoon

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Vermouth is a most maligned cocktail ingredient.  Most of the stuff that goes into a cocktail is sour from age because most people don’t know that Vermouth has a pretty short shelf life.  What does that mean? 

Well, it’s simple.  If you don’t refrigerate your Vermouth it’s probably gone sour or worse, it may have something growing in it and not the growth that you want to drink!

I’ve always maintained that Vermouth needs to be refrigerated to remain usable for preparing your fine cocktails!

Just like a bottle of wine, a bottle of Vermouth can go bad!  If you have a bottle lurking on top of your fridge and it’s been there for a few months in the heat, or if you snagged one from your grandparents home, THROW IT OUT NOW.

Vermouth 101…
The original use for Vermouth involved certain core-medicinal properties of the ingredients.  Vermouth contains as the active ingredient- wormwood, which is the also found in the much-maligned intoxicant known as Absinthe.  Wormwood is very effective (like Absinthe) for ridding the body of internal parasites and for the treatment of most minor stomach maladies. 

Vermouth, like many of our modern day aperitifs and their denser Amaro cousins were not originally stirred into a mixed drink to taste.  They were dispensed by apothecaries as medicinals.  Vermouth was also used as a curative against head lice.  Think about that the next time you have a scalp itch.  Just pour a few ounces of Vermouth over your scalp and massage away!  Head lice gone! 

That’s the healing power of wormwood for ye!

In our modern era, a person might take an antacid tablet when they have a bellyache from eating a spicy meal.  In the 1800’s they might have a glass of Vermouth or a glass of Amaro for their curative. 

I much prefer a few glasses of Carpano Antica Vermouth instead of chemically produced stomach tablets. 

Artemisia absinthium (from the Carpano Antica website)
Although the origin of this name is not certain, it probably derives from “Wermuth” the German word for “absinthe” (Arthemisia absinthium). The old spellings of the name were Vermouth, Wermouth or Wermuth. We know that this type of wine was prepared by the ancient Romans and given the name Absinthiatum (o Absinthianum) vinum. The first Italian writer to make mention of this wine was C. Villifranchi in his Tuscan Oenology (1773). It owes its fame, however, to Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the first person to replicate the recipe with the same characteristics and taste in his wine shop starting in 1786.

EEC regulation no. 1601 of 10 June 1991 lays down general rules on definition, description and presentation of aromatized wines, aromatized wine-based drinks and aromatized wine products.

According to this regulation, an aromatized wine (or wine-based aperitif) is defined as a drink obtained from one or more wines with the addition of alcohol, aromatized using natural substances and/or preparations with the addition of aromatic herbs and/or spices and/or flavoring foodstuffs.  

The regulation also provides a definition for Vermouth (or Vermout) as an “aromatized wine which has been prepared from wine, the characteristic taste of which is obtained by the use of appropriate derived substances, in particular of the Artemisia species, which must always be used; this drink may be sweetened only by means of caramelized sugar, sucrose, grape must, rectified concentrated grape must and concentrated grape must”.

In order to be classed as a vermouth, it must be composed of at least 75% of wine, have a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 14.5% or more and a maximum alcoholic strength by volume of less than 22% and must contain Artemisias, which are its characterizing elements.

Carpano Antica Dry Vermouth…  Hold your horses!  Is Carpano now making Dry Vermouth? 
The short answer is yes, and it’s very, very good in a cocktail or alone in a snifter.  Carpano Antica Dry can even used to deglaze a pan of caramelized shallots and olive oil- after sautéing your crispy veal scaloppini. 

Dry, as in crisp against my tongue and thoughtfully aromatic are my first impressions.  Think of that familiar-signature sweet taste of Carpano Antica with most of the sugar removed from your first sip.  Carpano Antica Dry is the personification of elegance and substance.  Each sip thrusts scents of ancient Middle Eastern herbs, essences of bitter orange and green apple peels deeply into your memory, as if to say, drink me, and then drink me again, deeply and then remember my spark (the fizz) forever. 

Massimo d’Azeglio Fizz  (a light cocktail for the afternoon)
½ oz. Carpano Antica Dry Vermouth
½ oz. Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
21 oz. Pellegrino Lemon Soda
Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
2 slices (about ½ inch each) Smoked Blood Oranges

(Smoke your thick slices of Blood Orange on a grill or in a pinch, inside a ceramic bowl- you light the shards of wood first, then with tongs, hold the orange slices over smoldering apple wood chips or your choice of wood chips.
 Do this for at least a few minutes on each side to infuse the sweet wood smoke deeply into the spicy blood orange rounds)

In a cocktail mixing vessel, muddle some of the smoked Blood Orange slices to reveal their aromatics and precious juices, add some ice to fill the mixing vessel ½ way

Add the Vermouth
Add the Marachino liqueur
Stir to chill, but not dilute
Strain with a Hawthorne Strainer into an Old Fashioned glass where one 2x2 ice cube is patiently resting
Top with the Pellegrino Lemon Soda
Dot with the Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
Garnish with a pinwheel of smoked orange

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkUpNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
PS: Warren's second book, Whiskey Cocktails is on the market now!

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