One of my favorite cocktail trends in recent years is the growth of low alcohol drinks that use aromatized or fortified wines as their base. With a growing number of options (thanks in no small part to Eric Seed's obsession), there's is now a broad palate to work with, a far cry from the basic sweet or dry vermouth that were just about it at the turn of the millennium.
This drink comes from The Modern in NYC, which produced a number of low alcohol drinks for their menu.
2 oz dry vermouth
1 oz quina (Punt e Mes)
0.5 oz orange liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Combine all ingredients, stir with ice for 15 seconds, then strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with lemon or orange peel.
The nose is a nice balance of the two wines, orange notes from the liqueur and bitters, plus citrus oils from the garnish. The sip begins with grape sweetness, picking up orange notes around the middle, then sliding into citrus and savory bitterness near the back.
This is a really good choice if you want a drink with solid flavor density but not too much of an alcoholic punch. The liqueur and quina perfectly balance the dry vermouth so that the resulting drink is neither too sweet nor too bitter.
I also think this could be constructed as a long drink over ice with soda water to give it a bit more snap and push it even further towards being a session drink. Either way, it's perfect for a warm spring or summer afternoon.
Scenes from India Fest, 2018 (St. Paul, MN)
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