When the holidays roll around, I reach for Cognac. The Sidecar is my all-time favorite cocktail for these times – a festive mix of Cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon. Nothing says, "Let's Party!" like a shaken drink; and there is an old-timey, finger-snapping elegance to Cognac that always makes me feel like I'm hanging out with Daisy, Nick, and Gatsby.
But when I'm at home, I like to stir cocktails, so I came up with this simple drink using just three ingredients. I call it The Drake because the Canadian child-actor-turned-pop-star is our Crooner of the Year. He deserves to have a cocktail made in his honor on the Umami Mart Blog because he's not afraid to express his feelings (and he's going out with J.Lo now, whaaaa?!). Also, The Drake is a grand Chicago hotel, where one of my fave rom-coms, My Best Friend's Wedding, was filmed. Lastly, Drake is the name of my best friend's son, who is about to turn 4-years-old and is my arch-nemesis. When we meet, we duel, and one of us is bound to leave in tears. We have a special relationship. Happy Birthday, buddy!
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Cardamaro
2 dashes Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
Cherry for garnish
Cognac is a brandy made from grapes, which must be produced in the Cognac region of France. Because it's grape-based, the spirit is milder and, shall I dare say, more graceful than grain-based liquors. For this cocktail, I used the reserve Cognac by Dudognon, which produces a Cognac with light notes of honey, caramel, and spice.
Cardamaro is a lovely amaro from Italy made of cardoons and Blessed Thistle, both of the Asteraceae family, to which the artichoke also belongs. I usually like to sip Cardamaro on its own, but it also works well as a sweet vermouth substitute. It's quite earthy because it's been in oak for several months.
I tried using different ratios for this drink and I kept increasing the Cardamaro. At the end, the one-to-one ratio was the winner. I love the Sour Cherry bitters for this to bring out the brightness of the Cognac.
1. Build the drink in a mixing glass with all three ingredients.
2. Add ice. Stir.
3. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with a cherry or two.
If you want an additional kick to this drink, add an ounce of sparkling wine. This will make it super festive but beware, you will get tipsy!
This is the first time in years that I'm staying in the Bay Area for New Year's Eve and quite honestly, I'm looking forward to ringing in the new year in my apartment, in my booties and PJs. I'll try really hard to stay up until midnight, but it will be hard after a bottle of Champagne and a couple of these Drakes.
Happy New Year! May 2017 bring beams of love and joy to you all. And let's never speak of 2016 ever again.