With the continued cold and snow in the Northeast, a lot more brown liquor is getting poured in our household. This is not a negative, just an observation and in an effort to cut through the effects of reduced vitamin D, I have taken to experimentation.
Many folks know of the famous Bellini cocktail, invented by the owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice somewhere between the end of Prohibition and the end of WWII (1933 – 1945). The drink was so named because Giuseppe Cipriani, the owner of Harry’s felt the color of the cocktail was reminiscent of the color of a saintly robe found in a 15th century painting by Giovanni Bellini. The rest is history.
I like Bellini cocktails, but they are not a wintery libation. A recent exercise in tinkering with the Boulevardier, the Negroni and the Manhattan got me thinking. Could I adapt a cocktail that would use the essential ingredient of the Bellini, peach puree and the appropriate spirits of the season? Well, yes I could…
I started with a Bourbon-based Manhattan, but no matter how I adjusted the volumes of each component, the drink was too cloying for my liking. Branching into Negroni territory, I found that the mixture had an unpleasant contrast between the Campari and the peach puree, which echoed metallic overtones. The Boulevardier started me down the path of salvation, however.
Starting with Rye Whiskey as the base and then building from there was the key. Rye is inherently less sweet than Bourbon and subbing a more floral Sweet Vermouth in lieu of Campari created a nice back drop for the peach puree. I decided to use a pre-mixed peach puree (I know, I know, don’t say it…) – the Stonewall Kitchen Bellini Mixer. The mixer is perfect because it contains a little sugar and a little citrus to intensify the body. I then thought that it would be nice to add a touch more floral to the blend, so I went to St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur – nicely exotic. Lastly, to put an edge on the cocktail, I employed an equal mix of Angostura Bitters and Bittermen’s Hell Fire Habanero Bitters. The two played wonderfully off the tangy sweetness and lush floral qualities of the cocktail.
So, why Harry’s Revenge? Well, first, I thought it would be nice to pull in the history related to the bar that gave us the Bellini and, second, I wanted to honor a man who is the consummate gentleman and gave me some of my fondest memories during my early years at Harvard – Harry Hawkes. Harry is a unique individual who has left a lasting impression on my mind and, almost more importantly, Harry loves a good cocktail.
So, Harry, where ever you are and to my other friends, I present Harry’s Revenge:
2 oz. Rye Whiskey (I use George Dickle Green Label, 90 proof)
½ oz. St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
½ oz. Sweet Vermouth (I use Dolan)
½ oz. Peach Puree (I use Stonewall Kitchen Bellini Mixer)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashed Bittermen’s Hell Fire Bitters
Combine the ingredients and shake vigorously with crushed ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry.