I guess spring is here. I can tell because I cannot breathe and my eyes itch. It’s ok though, because now I know, without looking at a calendar or out my window, that it’s time to lighten up. No more Manhattans, no more red wine. Gin, rosé and margaritas are calling. While searching for inspiration for today’s post, I looked across my desk to find an unopened bottle of Suze.
Suze is a French wine based aperitif, rarely found in the states until recently. It has a beautiful and alluring yellow color and it’s intensely bitter due to the predominant gentian flavor. Gentian is a key bittering agent in some of the most classic cocktail ingredients such as Angostura bitters, Campari and Averna. Because the ingredient is so bitter it works as a wonderful counter balance in cocktails allowing bartenders to utilize sweet ingredients and create a broad spectrum of flavor in a drink. Think about the Negroni- red vermouth is often very sweet, but when balanced by the botanicals of gin and the bitterness of Campari, magic happens.
A wonderful seasonal variation on the Negroni that incorporates Suze is a White Negroni. A dear friend of mine made me one several years ago at a bar called Weather Up in TriBeCa before I’d ever even heard of Suze. At that time Suze was not available on the west coast so it was a wonderful treat. The cocktail doesn’t use the traditional 1:1:1 ratio of a Negroni, but it really hits. See if you can get your hands on a bottle of Suze and give this one a whirl. Or give it a try at Serious Pie Westlake in the coming weeks as it will be one of our featured draft cocktails.
2 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc
¾ oz Suze
Stir the ingredients together until cold.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.