Y'all, if you need a refresher on how I hold daiquiris in quite the highest of regards, you can read about the coconut daiquiris we did last summer. TL;DR? Let's just say it's the Tom Sawyer of cocktails in that it is an inarguable classic, it's pretty hard to put down, and kind of paved the way for the creation of other novels/boozy treats. What I present to you here, then, has to be the Huck Finn. It's a bit more complex and darker, but you'll still notice a few of the same characters, so to speak.
So last summer I was super into daiquiris and sunbathing, and I'd also just started working as a bartender at Meauxbar (which I highly recommend if you're visiting New Orleans). A fine gentleman by the name of Christopher, who was a huge mentor to me in the way of cocktail mechanics and spirit history, blew my mind when he did the impossible and made the most perfect daiquiri even more perfect just by adding half an ounce of China-China Amaro. What the hell is amaro and why did I just double-mention an Asian superpower? I don't know.*
The no-fuss, you-give-to-many-details-Matt, let's-get-to-the-booze-already version is this: an amaro is an Italian bitter liqueur (whereas Beau and I are just bitter Italians, key difference) made most commonly from macerated herbs, roots, citrus peels, etc. as the flavoring agents and combined with neutral spirits or wine plus some sugar. Traditionally they're enjoyed neat or with ice after a meal as a digestif, basically settling the stomach. But this is America, goddammit, and it's 2016 and Donald Trump might be your next supreme leader, so let's say fuck it all and throw this shit into a cocktail. Here we go!
- 1 1/2 oz silver rum
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 3/4 simple syrup*
- 1/2 oz Cynar**
Add all ingredients to a shaking tin, fill it with ice, secure lid and shake for 15 - 20 seconds, or until the shaking tin is frosted over. Pour into your serving glass and garnish with an orange twist.
*Combine 1 part water with 2 parts sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Let cool before using.
**I went with Cynar for this recipe because 1. I didn't have any China-China at home and 2. Cynar is totes my fave amaro. It is made from artichokes I swear. Be careful when subbing out different amari, though, they vary widely in flavor profile and intensity as well as sugar content. I don't, for example, see this cocktail working with something as cloyingly bitter and herbacious as Fernet-Branca, nor do I see it working with something as syrupy sweet as Amaro Nonino. Stick with middle-ground amari: Montenegro, Ciociaro, China-China, or Cynar would all be perfect. That said, feel free to play around, maybe using less simple syrup and working a sweeter one in, or using more syrup and lime to balance out a more bitter one.