Breaker Bar

1 oz Old Tom Gin <Hayman’s>
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/4 oz Campari
1 oz Port <Dow’s Finest Reserve>

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.


On Tuesday night I came out to my car to find the front passenger side tire completely flat.  Closer inspection revealed a nail sticking out of the tread.  No biggie, I’ve changed plenty of tires in my day.  All I needed to do was grab the wheel lock key that lives under the passenger seat.  I looked in its usual spot only to find the thin pile of the floor mats.  Crap.  Lack of wheel lock keys makes changing the tire nigh impossible.  Even a call to AAA couldn’t get the tire off.  What should have been a simple twenty minute job now stretched into 2 hours and included me riding shotgun in the tow truck on the 40 minute ride home.  At least there was some unintentional comedy as the driver was rocking out to some Debbie Deb.  

At this point I am kicking myself, partly for misplacing the wheel locks, but also for being suckered into purchasing them in the first place by the car salesman when we first bought the car.  Finally I arrived home at 10:45 and headed straight for the Google machine in search of possible solutions.  There were plenty out there, but unfortunately I had a big conference to get to the next day for work, and I wouldn’t have much time to tackle the situation.  So there I was at 8am waiting for the Pep Boys manager to open the store Wednesday morning.  I stockpiled some twelve point sockets of various sizes and a breaker bar, and rushed back home.

After some frantic hammering and wrenching, the wheel lock sat there tight as ever. Almost mocking me.  I had to go to work, but we’d meet again at the end of the day.  On my way home I finally made it to Sears to pick up the emergency wheel lock removal kit I ordered.  This felt promising.  Armed with three different specialty sockets, I approached the offending tire.  First two sockets were two big.  I was getting worried.  The possibility of another tow truck ride loomed.  I grabbed the last socket and slipped it over the nut.  Snug enough, but it still needed a few whacks of the hammer.  Once it seemed pretty well on there, the moment of truth arrived.  The square end of the breaker bar clicked into place, and I slowly applied some torque.  The socket held, and with the extra leverage on my side, the wheel lock finally began to loosen.  A few more turns and I finished it off by hand, then let out a triumphant WHOOP!!  The beast was done, the saga finally over.  All that was left was for me to mix a celebratory cocktail.

Being Negroni Week, I new the direction in which to head.  The previous weekend I made the Chancellor Cocktail (amazing name) from Mr. Boston.  The use of Port intrigued me, and brought a different element to the palate.  Using it instead of sweet vermouth in a negroni template had potential.  Lately I’ve been rather obsessed with Amaro Montenegro, and what better platform to showcase it then in a negroni type drink.  Since the Montenegro is so florally (if that’s even a word), I thought the mellower Old Tom gin would work better here than the more botanical London Dry.  Finally, a touch of Campari to maintain a strong link to the roots of the drink.

Named after an essential tool in my fight against the wheel lock, the Breaker Bar would be right at home at any negroni family reunion.  The trademark bright bitterness is there, but is made just a little bit softer from the sweetness of the Old Tom and Port.  The two Amaris joust the whole way from aroma to sip.  Montenegro has the upper hand on the nose, with its rich bouquet filling the air.  Campari steps up on the sip, bracing the taste buds with a citrusy snap.  But the Montenegro keeps things light enough, not letting it veer off into the dark and brooding territory befitting its deep purple hue.  A welcome variation to a classic, made even better knowing the wheel lock had finally loosened its grip on my car.

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