120 Down the Deegan
1 1/2 oz Gin [Boodles]
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth [Dolin]
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth [Dolin]
1/2 oz Blood Orange Limoncello [Fabrizia]
Few dashes Orange Bitters [Regan’s]
Combine ingredients with ice, stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
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Second, about a month ago I received some limoncello from Fabrizia spirits. It’s not something I normally keep stocked, so I was excited for the opportunity to experiment with limoncello in cocktails. Even better, in addition to the traditional offering, I also got a blood orange liqueur and cream version. The blood orange was especially intriguing, and immediately my wheels started turning.Fabrizia was started by Phil Mastroianni. A trip to visit family in Italy in his early twenties left a lasting cultural impression. Inspired by the hospitality of his family, he eventually started making his own wine, curing his own meats, and finally making his own limoncello. A few years later an uncle from the old country was visiting him, and Phil poured him a glass of his own limoncello. His uncle’s pleased reaction convinced him to finally turn this into a business.
We should all be thankful he did, because all the bottles I tried are wonderfully floral with a strong citrus character. As luck would have it, my brother-in-law recently brought back some limoncello from the Amalfi coast. Mrs. Muddle and I decided to have a blind taste test, and Fabrizia’s held up wonderfully. There was a little less alcoholic astringency, and it almost felt like they just shoved a bunch of lemons right into the bottle. There were even some of the more aromatic notes you’d get from zesting a lemon.
The blood orange liqueur is very unique, with hints of orange creamsicles (in the best possible way) grounded by a strong alcoholic bite. I can’t wait for the warm weather to roll around to really get the full experience. For now, cocktails will do just fine.
Since I am pretty inexperienced when it comes to limoncello, my initial experiments stuck to a simple principle. Take any classic cocktail with orange juice in it, and swap in the blood orange liqueur. I purposely avoided drinks with stronger personalities like the Blood and Sand, as I wanted to see what the liqueur brought to the table. Then I saw it. The Bronx Cocktail. Nothing too fancy, no power players here. Just gin, sweet and dry vermouth, and OJ. The perfect candidate. So out went the OJ and in came the blood range limoncello.
The 120 Down the Deegan has lots of botanicals from the gin and vermouths on the nose, with a citrus blossom undercurrent from the liqueur. The sip is clean and crisp, with some bite from the gin and more citrus and sweetness from the blood orange liqueur. Subtle grape flavors from the vermouth add some darker notes. On the swallow the blood orange takes over for a zesty punch finishing nice and dry.
The name builds off the borough for which the original cocktail is named. As I mentioned in my tribute to Phife Dawg when he passed, I am an avid lover of 90s hip hop, having grown up in NJ about 30 mins outside NYC. One of the things I love about the lyrics from that era are the hyper local references MC’s threw into their bars. This particular lyric is delivered by the green-eyed bandit himself, Erick Sermon in “Don’t Get Gassed“. Along with Redman and Keith Murray, they formed Def Squad, a veritable hip-hop supergroup. Being from New York City (and Newark, NJ in Redman’s case), their lyrics were peppered with specific locales throughout the five boroughs. In this case, the Deegan Expressway is a section of highway that runs through the Bronx. The content and delivery have always been one of my favorites, and was the perfect monicker for a riff on a cocktail named for the northernmost borough.
1 1/2 oz Amaretto [Disaronno]
3/4 oz Limoncello [Fabrizia]
3/4 oz Cointreau
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
As for the traditional limoncello, I can’t wait to get more adventurous with it. However, I did try it as the lemon component in a classic Amaretto Sour. It made for a lovely after dinner tipple.