Confessions of a Mixologist: Caffè Romano
The cocktail we're featuring this time is of my own creation. The goal was to create a drink that does justice to the flavor profile of a lesser-known coffee drink, the Caffé Romano — espresso served with lemon peel. In putting it together, I played off of the proportions used in one of my favorite old classics, the Vieux Carré.
The Vieux Carré is named after the French term for New Orleans's French Quarter, le Vieux Carré or "the Old Square." It was created in the early 1930s by the head barkeep at what would some years later become the Carousel Bar in the Monteleone Hotel, one Walter Bergeron.
VIEUX CARRÉ1 oz rye 1 oz cognac 1 oz sweet vermouth .25 oz Bénédictine 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters 2 dashes Angostura bitters Simple Steps: Combine in a mixing glass prepped with ice / Stir / Strain onto fresh ice in a rocks glass / Express a lemon peel over the drink and drop in as a garnish
As you may have noticed, the build for the Vieux Carré is not too far off from a Manhattan, with only a few small but lovely tweaks. Not only does it include the charming, herby kicker of Bénédictine, it also makes use of a somewhat unconventional mix of rye whiskey and cognac. In accordance with typical guidelines for drink mixing, both this and the Caffé Romano — being all liquor without any juices — should be stirred rather than shaken.
For the Caffé Romano, I dropped the Bénédictine and replaced it with Borghetti Espresso Liqueur to lend the recipe that initial coffee note. I also swapped out the Rye Whiskey in favor of Kaloa Dark Rum, which is a delicate bottle of Hawaiian Rum that delivers a delightful vanilla flavor. Once I'd built the base of the drink, I settled on plum bitters for the gentle lift they offer.
CAFFÉ ROMANO1 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac 1 oz Koloa Dark Rum .5 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth .5 oz Borghetti Espresso Liqueur 2 dashes Fee Brothers Plum Bitters Simple Steps: Combine in a mixing glass prepped with ice / Stir / Strain onto fresh ice in a rocks glass / Express a lemon peel over the drink and drop in as a garnish
I hope you enjoy this soft but strong bracer. Just don't let it sneak up on you! This is your local libation lover, JD Whigham, signing off.