Boo! Happy Fall season, fellow imbibers. Apologies for the long absence but I have been both terribly busy and sicker than any miserable, pathetic dog you’ve ever seen. All better now, thanks, and ready to resume making things up.
This cocktail, known as the Boomerang, comes courtesy of the slightly odd, London-penned guide currently sitting on top of my bar, Complete Home Bartender’s Guide (New York: Sterling, 2002). When I went looking for something that I could modify for use with the the 100-proof Rittenhouse rye whisky sitting on my shelf, Mr. Calabrese came through with the right mix. Here is the original:
1 2/3 oz/5 cl rye whisky
1 oz/3cl vermouth
2/3 oz/2cl fresh lemon juice
4 dashes Angostura bitters
4 dashes maraschino liqueur
Oddly enough, googling the term “Boomerang cocktail” brings up a couple of articles on an apparently not-so-secretive practice of sending a cocktail from one bartender to another bartender in a neighboring bar, via a trusted carrier, often with a little note. This practice is, of course, completely illegal. So the first rule of a Boomerang is the same as the first rule of Fight Club: you don’t talk about it. If you ask a bartender about it (or worse, offer to act as carrier when you are not a trusted regular), you will most likely be met with a blank stare or a hostile denial. But the principle is lovely. Give a little, get a little back. Boom.
Considering the current political climate, I find this idea particularly apt. Seems to me that the presidential candidates could all use a little lesson in karma.
Before I give you my twist on this drink, I have a confession to make: Guerrilla Bar is getting an upgrade. Because of my ongoing (admittedly spotty) education on how to design an excellent drink, I am now convinced that quality ingredients are KEY. That means that I cannot claim to be producing wonderful tasty things with cheap ingredients. I am still using “what’s on hand,” it’s just that what’s on hand is expanding in both variety and quality. A lot of this is the fault of my new cocktail bible, a book published by Death & Co., which is a very special, perhaps infamous New York bar in the East Village with incredible custom cocktails. I enjoyed one of the best drinks of my life there. If I lived in New York, I would definitely be a regular.
So after a bit of trial and error, here is my tweak on the Boomerang:
1 1/2 oz. Rittenhouse rye
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. Antica Formula vermouth
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (I used my cheap-ass Gallo. There are better options than this.)
1 bar spoon (about 1/2 tsp) Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 bar spoon Angostura bitters
1 light bar spoon organic cane simple syrup (1:1)
Pour all ingredients into a chilled mixing glass, add ice, and stir for about 30 seconds to dilute. Strain into a coupe and serve. No garnish.
Maybe if you choose a really rich, sweet vermouth you won’t need any simple syrup. That’s up to you. I hear Dolin is good but haven’t tried it yet. I would advise you taste and adjust as necessary. That’s part of the fun!
I find this mix a complex layering of tart, sweet, and tangy. The rye whisky possesses a rich sweetness that avoids the cloying nature of so many bourbons and is able to stand up to the bitters and vermouth nicely.
That’s it for now. Next up, some sort of bastardization of a seasonal cocktail. I promise to avoid eggnog.
May this Fall season bring to you all the joy and conviviality that you can handle. Remember to send out into the world that which you wish to receive in return. After all, it is the reaping season.