By Tom Lindstedt
stirred — Rounded Rocks / lemon peel (burnt end)
1.0 oz vodka (Gordon’s or Ketel One)
1.0 oz Aperol
1.0 oz verjus (Fusion blanc)
0.25 oz banana liqueur (Giffard Banane du Brazil)
0.25 oz aged cachaça (Famosinha)
Dash (1-2) orange bitters
In discussing inspirations for the upcoming web series Last Meal, the art of Andy Warhol was at the top of the list. Hyper-stylized and targeted to a broad audience, yet unconventional through and through, we wanted to capture that essence in the show. Early on, we knew an episode would feature a TV dinner of sorts — that sense of nostalgia leapfrogged to the iconic Campbell soup cans that permeated many a childhood meal, and Andy Warhol’s famous imagery of the product. For a cocktail to do that, we aimed for something that would immediately catch the eye, perhaps be dismissed as “not a serious” drink, and then wow imbibers with substance all the while they’re gulping it down.
Vodka was the obvious choice for spirit: something that had mass appeal despite being scoffed by more than a few professional mixologists. Aperol has become something of a darling ingredient lately, plus the vibrant red-orange color was perfect for our intent as well. From there we wanted to get bonkers: how many preconceived notions could we shatter? With clarified juice or a citric acid solution we could make the drink *look* like Kool-Aid but maintain a proper tartness (we ultimately chose verjus). We found the versatility of a new line of cachaça to be rousing—not something often said of that spirit class—and used its bold flavor as a unique accent on the finish. Lastly, in a double nod to the crafted whimsy of Warhol, we slipped in a dash of quality banana liqueur from Brazil (also to complement the cachaça) and garnished the drink with a lemon peel burnt at one end to resemble another of the artist’s iconic works.
The art of Andy Warhol may come across initially as zany and flippant. Recognizing this trait within the drink itself, we named it the Candy Warhol. We respond often to guests who ask, “Is this sweet?” with witty confidence, “It’s more Warhol than candy”. Many chuckle, order the drink, and are pleasantly surprised by the handy balance of colorful fruit flavors with just the right amount of tang. Pop art at its finest.
If you drink vodka, you have your favorite(s). With all the other pricey ingredients, we employ the venerable Gordon’s vodka to do the heavy lifting—though Ketel One has a pleasantly fuller mouthfeel. Use what you’d like; after all, vodka is meant to carry and stretch flavors if not serving as the only spirit in a drink.
One might be tempted to substitute Campari or perhaps another amaro-style liqueur, but Aperol is really the only recommended product for this drink. Few others achieve the proper lightness with just the right amount of pleasing bitterness. The signature rhubarb flavor is a great foil for the hints of tropical fruit found elsewhere in the drink. Orange bitters complement the herbs and root aspects of the Aperol, but aren’t necessarily crucial if you want to skip them this time.
Here again we rely on verjus—fresh-pressed grape juice—to dial in the tartness of this cocktail. Especially with the lighter aperitivo and vodka base, it’s important to keep things lithe. (A reminder: specialty grocery stores carry a variety of styles of verjus — if it cannot be obtained, a smaller amount of fresh lemon juice will work in conjunction with an appropriate amount of simple syrup to create a mild sourness to balance the other bonkers elements.)
Cachaça can be a scary notion for some — while not sweet itself, the bold flavor of the sugar cane liquor permeates most drinks it touches. Thankfully there are more and more excellent brands representing the spirit: we’re fans of the bottles from 3G Spirits (Oregon importers) as well as Novo Fogo and Avuá. We’re also smitten with the banana liqueur from Giffard, which is a far cry better than any neon-colored schnapps that might have been previously consumed. Together these two add a sultry accent, just so the drink doesn’t take itself *too* serious. If neither are available, a bit of cane syrup does the trick, or a dash of funky Jamaican rum works as well.
From his very first stints at bartending, Tom has enjoyed scripting cocktail menus within specific themes. Overseeing two restaurant cocktail programs (Biwa, Little Bird) prior to establishing those at Barlow and High Noon, Tom is drawn as much to the educational aspects of craft cocktailing as the actual service and hospitality elements.