The $2 Negroni, "Barrel-Aging" Optional

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Zane & Wylie's opening.jpg

Behold these three bottles. Campari, $24. Gin, $19. Vermouth, $6. At Total, the tab came to just under $50 for 2.25 liters, or roughly 76 ounces of booze.

Your corner bar (maybe) buys the same ingredients, and once you make yourself comfortable they will combine a one-ounce shot of each, shake (or stir) vigorously (or not) and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Voilà! It's a Negroni, doh. A martini glass, perhaps, or a vaguely cone-shaped "vintage" glass of some sort. Nothing too big, mind you. A proper cocktail is not a Big Gulp. And if you want yours on the rocks, just remember that the ice will melt as you sip your cocktail and dilute your drink. A few serious bars these days are using oversize chunks of ice (think tennis-ball) in a straight-sided glass. Not so sure about that.

More troubling than the oversize ice cubes is that more than a few bars are mixing their Negronis ahead of time so they can a) "age" the Negroni in a small barrel, b) make sure you, the customer, can't watch the bartender short-pour the expensive Campari or observe how much (or little) cheap bar gin goes into the mix, c) upsell the damn cocktail automatically because "barrel-aged" sounds classier rather than upselling on the basis of a more expensive gin. Look, I've worked as a bartender; I know how easy it is to fudge.

So here's what I'm going to do: combine these three bottles. No "aging" that rounds off the bright flavors of the Campari, either. I'll have 2.25 liters, roughly 75 ounces of Negronis pre-mixed. I can keep the mix in glass containers in the fridge and won't need to ice down a whole cocktail set-up. I can even pour a short snort if I want one after dinner or before bed. (Yes, Negronis make a terrific nightcap.)

Let's recap. I have 75 ounces, and a proper Negroni is a 3-ounce pour. So 25 drinks for $50. In other words, I get my corner bar's 3-ounce, $12 Negroni for the entirely reasonable price of $2.

Just think: you buy a really nice bottle of wine (Clos de Betz, maybe? $70. or Efeste Final Final, $30) and pour a 5-ounce glass for yourself at home. that's $14 for the Betz, $6 for the Efeste). Order those same bottles at a restaurant, the price will be double (if you're lucky).

Ah, but Ronald (you say), we know you buy your "house" wine at Rite Aid (Chilean merlot in a 3-liter box from Corbett Canyon). Roughly 100 ounces, roughly ten bucks. I can drink two 5-ounce glasses for a buck.

Back to the Negroni. The finished drink on the right is not, technically, a Negroni. It's called the Belltowner, an $11 item at the spanking new Zane+Wylie's Steakhouse that Kevin and Terresa Davis opened this weekend. Not even a full website yet! (Facebook page here.) Aloo Gin (from Oola Distillery on Cap Hill), Campari from Milan, and Brovo's "Jammy" vermouth out of Woodinville. On the sweet side, to be sure. Pro tip: Z+W is the real deal, a "Seattle" steakhouse, not all overpriced "Chicago" or "Noo Yawk."

Damn, now I'm thirsty.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on May 9, 2018 2:00 PM.

Edouardo Jordan's JuneBaby Named America's Best New Restaurant was the previous entry in this blog.

Too many hills in Seattle? eBikes may be the answer is the next entry in this blog.

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