Sometimes you have a bunch of booze, but no fridge and no ice. During a blackout. Staying at a cheap hotel. Spending a week in the middle of the goddam desert. Don't worry, though—with the right bottles of booze, you can still come up with a killer cocktail.
It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. No ice? No problem.
In a hotel room during a spirits convention, the folks who created Beta Cocktails found themselves with all sorts of sample of spirits, but they'd have no mixers and sometimes no ice. So they set to work creating room temperature cocktails, and came up with some delightful concoctions.
On of their creations, an amazing drink called the "Goodnight, Farewell, and Amen," is now on the menu at the Amor y Amargo speakeasy in NYC. The drink is simply a stirred, warm mix of bourbon, Branca Menta, tequila, Bittermens Amère Sauvage. No ice, no chilling, no mixers. And yet it's a smooth, nuanced affair.
Update: Turns out we were given the wrong backstory (or the backstory for a different drink). From what we're now hearing the drink was created on New Year's 2011 by Avery Glasser, Amor y Amargo's then beverage director. It's a riff on a cocktail called the Goodnight Irene (created by Audrey Saunders), which is itself a riff on a classic drink called the Stinger. The drink was unrefrigerated initially because Avery wasn't behind the bar that night and couldn't reach any ice. Then he realized it didn't need it.
We reached out to Amor y Amargo's phenom bartender, Sother Teague, to see if he could whip up something special for a trip to Burning Man. It had to taste great even when warm, it had to something I could make in a big jug before leaving home, and it had to be stable in the heat. The recipe had to avoid some common cocktail ingredients (like Vermouth), which are prone to oxidation, and that can ruin the flavor.
Sother spent a night tinkering and tasting, and he came up with a real winner. We give you the Black Rock Chiller (BRC), named for the desert I'm currently baking in.
- 1 part tequila reposado
- 1 part Branca Menta
- 1 part Suze
Now, Suze, the liqueur that uses gentian as its primary flavoring agent, can be hard to find outside of craft cocktail bars. As a substitution you can look for Aveze or Salers (or Bittermens Amère Sauvage), but I had no luck finding those in California. So Sother said in a pinch you could substitute Cocchi Americano and add Angostura bitters to flavor. To help you track down those ingredients (or the Branca Menta), look for a local seller on Wine Searcher.
You should add just enough of the third ingredient so that the bitterness is perceptible, but not to the point that it becomes a dominant flavor. That's what I did, and it turned extremely well. The scaled recipe looked like this:
- 750ml tequila reposado
- 750ml Branca Menta
- 750ml Cocchi Americano
- 1 oz angostura
Even though it's served warm, it actually tastes cold. This is due to the mint in the Branca Menta. See, you normally sense cold using a protein called TRP-M8 which resides in the membrane of some nerve cells. The cells change shape at low temperatures. The menthol compound trips the TRP-M8, which sends the "Cold!" signal to the brain. So this drink hits your lips and feels cold, then travels down and warms your belly.
I mixed my Black Rock Chiller in a collapsible 96 ounce Nalgene, tossed it in my backpack, and have been delighting my camp mates with it for the last week. If you visit Amor y Amargo, it won't be on the menu. But if you ask Sother for a tall, tepid Black Rock Chiller, you'll get one delicious room-temperature cocktail made by the master. It's a delight.
Thanks again to Mr. Sother Teague for his help. Follow him at @creativedrunk on Twitter.