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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Famiglia Negroni




I shall presume if you have arrived here in search of meaning or ideas or because you found the New York Times too facile that you already know how to mix a Negroni, the fabled gin with Campari with sweet vermouth drink. You likely stir it (mandatory) and serve it on rocks (usual) in a tumbler or old fashioned glass (prudent).

Drago Centro in DTLA has a Novac Negroni, the first word a portmanteau (No Vacancy) name of a fictitious town in the game Fallout New Vegas. $13 (the drink, not the game). The Negroni variant includes Aperol and a dash of Grand Poppy; it may seem counterintuitive to add Aperol to a Campari drink, but the end result indeed works. The gin they use is the fervently boquetcious St. George Terroir, so this is California, all right; the vermouth is the silky Carpano Antica. They serve it over and around one of those extra large ice cubes. If you haven't had a drink mixed Camparo Antica, you may not know what's possible in sweet vermouth.

Up the boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, The Black Cat in Silver Lake serves a Boulevardier, the Negroni family drink that swaps bourbon, in this case High West Double Rye, for gin, also with the lush Carpano Antica. $13. I've written of The Black Cat in another context; a gay rights riot involving the place preceded Stonewall by over two years. The place acknowledges the legacy without making it an insistent cultural tourist selling point; it remains comfortable, clubby, local.

I also spotted a large bottle of Carpano Antica, which comes in a smaller bottle and also a one liter size, in a refrigerated unit behind the bar at Hyperion Public, a halfway-to-sports bar within walking distance of me on Hyperion in Silver Lake that at first confused me as to whether or not it was a neighborhood bar but I have since determined it is. The space has good simpatico with The Black Cat as it used to be a gay piano bar, LA's oldest at the time of the conversion. I didn't ask what they used the Carpano for, and no drinks on the drink card call it out, but I did ask why they refrigerated it; the alert bartender told me that because it's sweet vermouth; in her opinion, if you don't use it quickly it may turn taste after a time. "At home, you can use the smaller bottle and cork it with a rubber stopper and pump it if you like," she said. And I buy that; as soon as I got home, I took the cork off of my home bar bottle and put on a rubber stopper top and pumped out as much of the air as I could.

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