Guest Post: Combining the Margarita and the Negroni

My 2 favorite classic drinks are margaritas and negronis. They’re what I order when I wish to avoid disappointment, and they’re what I make when I’m feeling lazy.

Now that I’m far from my beloved bar at Something Completely Different, I can’t make my preferred negroni—Chef Elizabeth Faulkner’s extra bitter version, which swaps Punt e Mes for sweet vermouth—ideally with lime-infused gin. Seriously, my life will change when I get a bottle of Punt e Mes; I’ll drink a lot less beer. In the meantime, I’ve made a lot of margaritas.

1.5  oz blanco tequila (tres agaves)
0.33 oz orange liqueur (cointreau)
0.5  oz campari
0.5  oz fresh lime juice
a glug of honey (1 barsp--1 tsp, to taste)

shake with ice.

I was playing with a margarita tonight, and managed to create a drink that would satisfy my (doctored) negroni cravings! I subbed Campari for some of the orange liqueur. And, recalling the unbelievable synergy of honey notes with the campari + fresh lime system[1], I threw in a half-hearted glug of honey. Yeah, it’s a great grapefruity margarita, with some extra earthiness from the Campari. But it reminds me of the best parts of my preferred negroni: intense lime-grapefruit bitterness, with a clear, summery base spirit[2]. The honey (I’m using Trader Joe’s Mesquite) is warm and spicy, with the “grade-B” attitude of Punt e Mes. I stirred it in with my finger[3], so it’s isn’t well-dissolved enough to contribute too much sugar; rather, it adds the vividness I was looking for. And, at the risk of sounding silly, I’ll say that the limes matter!

The limes I get here are deeply bitter, almost acrid in the cleaning-product sense. Compare that to the floral sparkle of a wedge that you get with a bowl of phở in Boston’s Chinatown; turns out that much of what I love in a collins or a daquiri is that miraculous lime oil. But the juice of these limes carries the earthy bitterness of the aged, lime-zest-infused gins that I like in negronis. So it’s a different facet of lime that’s shining here.

When I do find a damned bottle of Punt e Mes, I will make a negroni that tastes like my favorite margarita[4].

[1] See the beginning of the article at http://bostonapothecary.com/an-amazing-mead-based-shrub-cheater/. Obviously that’s mead, not honey, and they’re talking about how acid from the lime elevates the mead to a thing of beauty. But the point is that honey is a flavor, not just an overbearing sweetener that isn’t always appropriate.

[2] That’s the blanco talking. Of course, negronis are supposed to be more complex… so a reposado would also do well, inasmuch as it mimics the warm wintry/spicy aspects of the vermouth/amaro. Relatedly, I could see swirling in 0.33–0.5 oz quina-quina to replace the same amount of tequila.

[3] Oh, I do have a shaker. I’m just laaaaaaazy, and I need to leave the ice in since I have to be up in 7 hours.

[4] Which uses lapsang-infused reposado. Or a bad-ass smoky mezcal.

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