1 1/2 oz Gin <Boodles>
1 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1 barspoon (~1/8 oz) Apricot Liqueur <Rothman and Winter>
Lemon-Ginger Bitters <Hella Bitters>
Stir with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with half a dried apricot.
When I’m out at bars and restaurants, I try to order things I can’t actually make at home. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for an expertly made Perfect Manhattan or Last Word. But discovering new flavors is one of my favorite parts of bellying up to a bar. After a few successful encounters out in the wild, I’ll hone in on a particular bottle and bring it home. That’s where the real fun begins. If things go well, I may have a new staple on my hands (looking at you Benedictine and Becherovka). Other times, the getting-to-know-you period can be a bit more challenging, as I discovered when I finally purchased a bottle of apricot liqueur.
I thought this would be a home run. I mean, there’s a good chance you could walk into our house any day of the week and find dried apricots in the cabinet next to the chips and crackers. Plus, it’s such a different flavor from anything else in my bar, I imagined exploring strange new regions of my palate. Alas, it quickly set in that this spirit required a delicate touch. Every drink I tried to make with it seemed just a little too…apricoty.
Discouraged by off-the-cuff experimentation, I turned back to the pros for some ideas. Flipping through cocktail books or surfing websites is a good way to see what flavor combinations and proportions worked best. After some successful recreations, my mind switched gears and I scanned the recipes looking for substitution opportunities. That’s when I landed on the Pressure Drop from the Death & Co cocktail book.
Sure, Old Tom gin, amaro and vermouth were intriguing enough, but it was really the pear eau de vie that made a blip on my radar. Seemed like the perfect chance to swap in the apricot liqueur. Knowing this bottle tends to bring a lot of sweetness to the glass, I decided to balance things out with more floral notes from a classic dry gin and Amaro Montenegro.
Stone fruits and flowers. On the nose and through the sip, there was a constant interplay between these two flavors. A richness from the apricot liqueur bolstered the main components, and the lemon ginger bitters added a subtle spicy kick. I’m still amazed at how far a little apricot liqueur will go.
I don’t know if the Pressure Drop name is a reference to the Toots and the Maytals song, but I decided to treat it as such when naming my drink. I was lucky enough to see him in my early twenties. My friend and I were front row at the Surf Club down the Jersey shore, and we even pounded up with him a few times as we bounced up and down to the frantic ska rhythms. Another classic Toots song for the name seemed only natural given the recipe that inspired me.