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Charleston Cocktail

By David Durnell of Bocado

I have a drink I did "on-the-fly" for a guest a few months ago that we ended up putting on the menu. The guest was seated at the bar and asked for a "closer"—a savory, boozy, end-of-the-meal kind of drink. This particular guest had been a regular for over a year, and I had made him several of these kinds of drinks before. Two of his favorites were the Toronto—rye whiskey, Fernet Branca, demerara syrup, Angostura bitters, and orange peel—and the Negroni—gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, and orange peel. I had just gotten Corsair's "barrel-aged gin" and wanted to experiment with it, so I ended up doing an off-the-wall hybrid of a Toronto and a Negroni.

He liked the drink a lot, and I tried it later and was surprised at how complex and interesting the drink was; the Fernet and the rum-barrel elements of the gin created a weird, spicy interaction. I was leaving for Charleston the next day and wanted to name the drink after a city (like the Toronto). I dubbed it the Charleston Cocktail and threw it on the menu. It has since been replaced (Corsair's gin was quite limited) but still remains one of my favorite "on-the-fly" creations. Anything with Fernet Branca that works is fun.

1 oz Corsair barrel-aged gin
1 oz Bonal
1/2 oz My Amaro
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
bar-spoon of demerara syrup
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Absinthe rinsed glass
orange peel and lemon peel squeezed over the surface and discarded