Some days, you just need a good stiff drink. All the better if that day is Friday.
This past week has just been completely crazy - work has gone into overdrive and my mind has been swirling as I have been trying to make big life decisions at the same time. I won't complicate matters even further by delving into all the details, but I will say this - Hallelujah for Friday. Lord knows I desperately need a moment for my brain to take a rest and my body to relax so that I can get some clarity and focus on what is really important to me.
As I have explained before, at my core I am not really a big drinker, but I do like a good cocktail now and then - especially when I want to kick back, put my feet up and relax or enjoy a really fun night with friends. In this case, when I saw this Bittersweet Negroni in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, I knew it would be the perfect medicine for my aching, overworked brain. I had actually never heard of a Negroni before, but I was intrigued by the short description:
'My first cocktail crush was the Negroni. It was the "adult" taste (slightly bitter, slightly sweet) but also its easy-to-memorize recipe that hooked me. Even today, no matter what bar I find myself in, I know I can get a consistently well-made one. It's all about the golden ingredients ratio: 1-1-1.'
The 'golden ingredients ratio' Andrew is referring to is a mixture of 1 part Gin, 1 part Sweet Vermouth, and 1 part Campari. I love gin - a simple gin and tonic with extra lime is my boring, but favorite cocktail - and the yin and yang of sweet vermouth with bitter campari was strangely reminiscent of another treat I have been enjoying recently... Kumquats.
Kumquats are one of the smallest types of citrus, and their oval shape and size is more similar to a large olive than a typical round orange. But the real distinguishing characteristic of the kumquat is its taste - this fruit can be eaten whole, and the rind actually has a sweet flavor, while the flesh is more bitter. When you bite into a kumquat you initially taste the sweet, and then the flesh releases a torrent of sour in a burst of juice. I have just been popping kumquats like candy, and I love the way my mouth puckers around the sweet-sour little jewel.
It was this complementary yin and yang of flavors that made me realize garnishing a Negroni with some simple sliced kumquats would be so much more appropriate (and beautiful) than a simple orange twist or slice. Don't you agree?
The bright orange kumquats make a lovely contrast to the crimson Negroni.
I skewered the kumquats onto an appetizer fork, but you could also use a toothpick.
If you are not a fan of cloying cocktails or run-of-the-mill bar drinks, the Negroni just might be the drink for you. It is sophisticated and pleasant to sip - not the kind of drink you want to gulp down, but the kind you can savor and appreciate while winding down after work or on a warm weekend afternoon. You can let your mind wander... Because after a long week, isn't that what we all want to do? Just relax, take it slow, and savor life.
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Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2011
2 tbsp gin
2 tbsp sweet vermouth
2 tbsp Campari
A splash of prosecco (optional)
Sliced Kumquats for garnish (optional)
Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice, then top with gin, vermouth, and campari. Stir to mix, and if you like, top off with a splash of prosecco and garnish with sliced kumquats skewered on an appetizer fork or toothpick. Serve immediately. Makes 1 drink.