Last spring, while working on a liqueurs article for Imbibe, I interviewed Toby Maloney, a veteran of a number of bars, notably including The Violet Hour in Chicago. While talking about Campari, Toby suggested a drink that he’d placed on the spring bar menu, and described it as a “Campari gateway drink”.
I’ve been a fan of Campari for years, but my first encounters with this garnet aperitif were not exactly pleasant — I recall one grueling experience in a Munich bar about 20 years ago, trying to gulp down a Campari and soda so as not to embarass myself in front of some new acquaintances who were absolutely in love with the stuff. More recently, after the booze bug bit, I powered through a string of Negronis and Americanos until I developed a taste for Campari (my discover of the Jasmine helped, a lot), and now I heart the stuff.
Toby’s Riviera is not only a great introduction to Campari for amari beginners, but it’s a fantastic spring cocktail. I don’t have a picture as the drink’s main component — a mixture of assorted booze and fresh pineapple — takes a couple of days of soaking time, and the morning sunshine coming into my living room just reminded me that the season is right to put together another batch. Anyway, I’m off to the store this afternoon to pick up some pineapple, and this is what I’ll be drinking later in the week. The recipe makes a large batch suitable for parties, but you can size it down if you just want to have it around the house for a couple of days (don’t let it linger too long, though — as the pineapple oxidizes, it gets a funky flavor). Let me know if you made this last year after the recipe ran in Imbibe, or if you’re giving it a shot this season.
Riviera, by Toby Maloney
- 4 cups gin (use an old standby like Bombay, Beefeater or Tanqueray)
- 2 cups maraschino liqueur
- 1 cup Campari
- 1 pineapple
Skin the pineapple and cut into wedges, then soak in a big jar filled with all the booze for at least 24 hours, and no more than 48 hours. Strain out the pineapple — it’s actually pretty tasty if you start snacking on it — and refrigerate the base until ready to use.
- 2 ounces base mixture
- 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
Combine ingredients and shake hard without ice for a good 10 seconds to aerate the egg white; add ice and shake again for another 10 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a mint leaf and a few drops (not dashes) of orange bitters.
This drink is part of 30/30, a series of 30 drinks in 30 days — or as much as I can keep up before collapsing in a weary, booze-addled heap.