30/30, #20: The Trinidad Sour

I just realized I have no real way to categorize this drink, other than to start a new category titled “Holy Hell.”

I read about this drink in March on Lauren’s blog at Drink Boston, and on Frederic’s blog at Cocktail Virgin Slut, and both times I recall thinking, “That sounds awesome, but scary. I’m not sure whether I should mix one or run away.” Tonight, after browsing my drinks list in search of a suitable 30/30 post, I came across the Trinidad Sour again, and realized that no matter how fast you run, you’re never going to escape the perverse appeal of a drink that contains a full ounce of bitters.

While it’s big news among the cocktail crowd in Boston, the Trinidad Sour is actually the creation of Giuseppe Gonzalez, a bartender at Clover Club in Brooklyn (and starting this week, apparently, at Dutch Kills in Queens). An inversion of the standard cocktail formula, the Trinidad Sour tries to take the edge off the mighty ounce of Angostura by hitting it with an equal amount of orgeat, and then poking it with a dose of lemon juice and a half-ounce of Rittenhouse rye just to keep the bitters distracted enough so they don’t take your arm off at the elbow. Lauren describes the taste as being like a medicinal Sweet Tart, and I can understand that comparison; deeply garnet, the drink has the appearance and aroma of cherries, but the flavor is fruity and dense, with an aggressive yet approachable bitterness that not even an ounce of orgeat can contain.

I’ll be damned if this isn’t one of the most complex and intriguing — not to mention counterintuitive — cocktails I’ve ever had. I’m really into this one, and I can see breaking this out for guests just to blow their minds, as well as turn them on to something new. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Trinidad Sour

  • 1 ounce Angostura bitters
  • 1 ounce orgeat
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce Rittenhouse 100-proof rye (can sub Wild Turkey 101)

Combine in a cocktail shaker and shake well with ice. Strain into chilled coupe, and stand back.

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.

23 Responses to 30/30, #20: The Trinidad Sour

  1. This looks remarkably similar to Valentino Bolognese’s Tinidad Especial, save for a switch of citrus and subbing pisco for rye. Do you know if it’s coincidence or if Giuseppe was working off the Especial?

    Either way definitely need to try this – I loved the Tinidad Especial. However pisco isn’t too easily available here, but I’ve always got some Rittenhouse on hand!

  2. So where’s the Holy Hell category? 😛

    Had this drink 2 days ago inspired by Jay Hepburn from OhGosh. De-fucking-licious!
    It is being discussed a lot on a german drinks forum at the moment.

  3. Giuseppe Gonzalez is a total class act, in addition to his bartending skills. One of my favorite memories is having him mix my drinks at the Flatiron Lounge.

  4. I’m fascinated by bitters-heavy cocktails (I’m a big fan of the Alabazam!), so I’ve got to try this one… it sounds brilliant.

  5. I’ve been working on the same small bottle of Angostura, dash by dash, for like 17 years or something. Guess this’ll get me to the bottom so I can go buy a new one.

  6. Unbelievable!!!!
    I read your post, noticed that I had all the ingredients (substituted turkey 101 rye), and mixed it right away.
    I tast lots of cinnamon. Very well balanced. Thanks for the inspiration

  7. I had this last night at ZigZag and it blew my tiny mind! I can’t wait to make it at home!

  8. What a delicious surprise! The flavors really combined well to form a balanced, nuanced drink. I used homemade orgeat syrup (Darcy’s recipe) and substituted the 80 proof Rittenhouse rye. I noticed a lot of cinnamon along with burnt orange peel flavors going on, and all this was rounded out by the tart lemon and smooth mouthfeel of the homemade orgeat. Really tasty! Looks like I have to go pick up some more Angostura’s!

  9. Just had to say… The drink is actually inspired by two people:

    1) Obviously, Valentino Bolognese, the winner of the Angustura Cocktail Competition. The drink is an easy sub of lemon and Rye.

    2) Damon Dyer, head bartender at Flatiron. He showed me the recipe and and we played around with it. We tried different spirits and Rye just seemed to be the best (naturally).

    What I found most intriguing is its one of the few recipes where the amount of spirit is almost the same as the amount of sweetener.

    If you really , want to try something crazy…

    Stormy Mai-Tai
    1 1/2 oz. angustura
    3/4 oz. orgeat
    3/4 oz. curacao
    1 oz. lime
    preshake. pour into double rocks. top with crushed ice. light swizzle. float light rum. garnish with mint sprig.

    Yours in Service,


  10. I’ve been wanting to try this drink for a while, and this evening I finally got my hands on the right rye, but when it got down to mixing my mind went temporarily blank and I made it with 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice – double the recipe.

    That version was really good, very tart, and my girlfriend (who’s usually not a big cocktail person) loves it. I realized my mistake and made up another with the right proportions, and it’s definitely more balanced and complex. Still, both are worth revisiting. Thanks a lot!

  11. […] I mentioned on Twitter that recently I was at Soundtable, and the bartender Navaro (sp?) made us a trinidad sour. It was an amazing full ounce of bitters in it! But it’s awesome. Sour of course, but it […]

  12. I made homemade orgeat today using Daniel Shoemaker’s recipe as published in Imbibe. the end result was much more milky and had a thinner texture than any of the commercial orgeats I’ve purchased (Fee Bros., Trader Tiki). just wondering if the lessened viscosity will still work in this amazing Trinidad Sour. any thoughts?

    (the flavor on the homemade orgeat, however, is mindblowingly good. I might have to eat this stuff with cereal for breakfast….)

  13. Jasper’s Jamacian Planter’s Punch – in BeachBum Berry’s Remixed – is another delicious bitters heavy drink – just remember the bitters heavy syrup (Jasper’s Secret Mix) should be made at least two hours in advance for the flavors to settle.

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