I Dream of Gin-nie
One of my secret dreams is that I am a brunette Amanda Bellows. Amanda who? Mrs. Bellows, the martini-making counterpart to the very straight-laced Dr. Bellows in I Dream of Jeannie. Ever since I was a child watching sitcom reruns, I was obsessed with how Mrs. Bellow made a mean martini in about half a minute, including formal serving. For the record, Dr. Bellows just sat around annoyed and she served him. I wasn’t interested in that. No, I wanted simply Amanda Bellow’s aperitivo sprezzatura -artistry and effortless while mixing a drink, and I wanted a cocktail.
Cocktails at home
We’ve all been home, and we’ve entertained ourselves with baking, pizza making, recipe rehash and every kind of delivery. But cocktails are different. To me, they are an Experience, entrance into the mind and taste of an artist. It’s hard to reproduce a great cocktail at home and you tend to work with easy favourites (in our case, gin and tonic and Campari spritz). But lately, I’m bored with slicing lemon to dump into the old faithful g-n-t, and there is absolutely no mixing magic in a Campari spritz. I need a smooth and stylish cocktail that I can make at home so I called up five of Italy’s top bartenders and asked them to send me an recipe that I can make and so can you. The only requirement was that an Italy-made liquor must be included. Think of it as a little Italy in a high ball.
FRESH N TONIC
by Benjamin Cavagna, 1930 (Milan)
40ml Farmily vodka
10ml Marsala wine
Top with coffee and tonic water
Serve in a Collins glass and garnish with mint leaves
A few years back, I sweet-talked the right person to be given the address to 1930, Milan’s hardest-to-find (and most true to the 1920s) speakeasy where I met Benjamin Cavagna, a bartender whose makes beautiful magic in a High Ball (or Collins, or Coupe). It’s no wonder 1930 consistently ranks as one of the top bars in the world. When I asked Benjamin for an easy-to-make at home cocktail, he asked me if I liked coffee and had any mint. The surprise is the very easy to make Fresh n Tonic.
Benjamin is a disciple of Milan-based MaG cafe whose bartenders Flavio Angiolillo (next on this list) and Marco Russo created Farmily Spirits which you see in this and the following recipes. Farmily Botanical is a harvest of genetian flower, wild celery, ginger, clove, quinine, with orange rind and vanilla distilled with sweet sugarcane alcohol, giving it a taste similar to rum. They are harder to find outside of Italy, but if you do, get them.
40ml Vermouth rosso
30ml Farmily Asia
2,5ml miele di castagna
Stir and serve in a Coupe glass.
The gentlemen’s bartender and a poet of ambidextrous elegance, when I asked Flavio why a Manhattan he wrote me a poem.
Un cocktail elegante e che amo
con un distillato unico e innovativo
la gente a casa ama assaggiare un nuovo prodotto
un cocktail facile da fare, morbido e speziato
an elegant cocktail that I love with a one-of-kind and innovative spirit, people at home love to taste something new, and it’s an easy-to-make, spicy and smooth cocktail.
– Flavio Angiolillo
50 ml Aperitivo Cappelletti
90 ml Ginger Ale
20 ml Grapefruit juice
Pour all ingredients in a collins glass over ice. Garnish with a grapefruit peel. Gently stir with a spoon to mix
Mario is passion on the rocks. A world class bartender, he loves sharing what he does as well as lifting up his colleagues. During our lockdown, he was up, talking cocktails around the world on Instagram @MarioFarulla.
Marcellino comes from the protagonist of a famed film from the 1950s “Marcellino pane e vino” in which the main character, a young boy, shows how to find happiness in the little things, and that’s this, a simple and good recipe inspired by Marcellino.
45ml Tanqueray ten
30ml Luxardo Bitter
30ml Americano Cocchi
2 dashes Grapefruit bitter
Stir and strain in an Old Fashioned glass over ice
I’ve known Patrick for ever. He’s my favorite so his bar Drink Kong was the last place I visited before lockdown and he’s the first person I called for at home drinks.
Our Kong drink with an Italian touch is our ‘’white’’ Negroni, the Tentation. It’s called Tentation because it is made with the beautiful Tanqueray Ten, plus we add ‘Americano Cocchi’ white vermouth that gives to the drink an aristocratic spiciness. For the bitter we add one part of Luxardo bitter bianco elegant and not invasive . We complete this drink whit two dashes of grapefruit bitters , an unusual Negroni for elegant and sophisticated palates.
– Patrick Pistolesi
45ml Amaro Formidabile
30 ml Succo fresco di lime
Shake and double strain into a Highball glass. Top with tonic water and garnish with three lime wheels.
Matteo Zed is one of the most serious bartenders I’ve ever met. He’s created the codex to amaro in is book Il Grande Libro dell’Amaro Italiano (which will soon be translated and available in English) and he contemplates every drink he serves. The irony is that they are effortless in style and taste. His enviable kingdom is The Court, a hotel bar with the most spectacular, unobstructed and front row view to the Colosseum.