It’s midterm election night here in the U.S., and while the results are still coming in, it looks like there’ll be a significant change in Congress come January. While I’m a dedicated partisan in my personal life, I’ve always tried to avoid politics here on the Cocktail Chronicles, believing that a cocktail blog is like an extension of the regular bar, a place where religion, politics and other loaded topics are usually best left at the door.
But, hey, there’s a lot going on tonight — Democrats have picked up enough seats to take control of the House, making Nancy Pelosi — who’s been scorned by Republicans as a “San Francisco liberal” — the most likely candidate to be the next Speaker, and as of this moment, the Senate is still in play, with the outcomes in Montana, Virginia and Missouri determining whether the Democrats control both houses of Congress in the next session.
What to drink in such a situation? One concoction, in particular, springs to mind — a hearty mix of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and orange bitters, with an added component: the rather obscure orangey aperitif bitter known as Amer Picon. This cocktail has everything you might need for an election night: a rye/vermouth base that has the celebratory kick / drown-your-sorrows potency of a Manhattan, bolstered with the aperitif that puts fire in the bellies of the victors, and a lingering bitterness on the palate of the defeated (but even though you can dicker with the recipe as if it was an electronic voting machine, you’ll never get the bitterness to last for two years, which is the least Republicans can expect after tonight’s results).
Of course, there are two things about this drink that may appeal to Democrats more than Republicans: the first is the name, which is a word Republicans are more accustomed to using in derision than in a drink order; and the second is the source of the defining ingredient. Amer Picon is a French aperitif; regardless of any lingering resentments, this product is exceptionally hard to find in the U.S. Fortunately, there is a replacement, which is only somewhat less obscure: Torani Amer. Its place of origin? Just a short jog from Nancy Pelosi’s hometown.
- 1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey*
- 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/4 ounce Amer Picon or Torani Amer
- 1 dash orange bitters
Combine in a mixing glass, add ice, and either stir with buoyant jubilation or with grim resignation. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a twist of lemon or orange peel and gloat, or skip the garnish and find a place to sulk. Repeat.
* I like a nice Pennsylvania-style rye in this one. Pennsylvania, as in the state that just refused to return Rick Santorum to the Senate.