Welcome to Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, The Adonis!
Once you know the ropes, you can make a decadent cocktail while cooking Mom's favorite beef stew.
Greetings, Wonketeers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. I thought we’d start the New Year right with a low-proof cocktail. Here’s a complex, elegant drink that won’t put you under the table — the perfect thing to sip on as we look back on a tumultuous but entertaining week. Let’s make an Adonis. Here’s the recipe:
2 oz Gallo Sweet Vermouth
2 oz Harvey’s Solera Bristol Cream Sherry
2-4 shakes orange bitters
Stir the first three ingredients together with ice until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with the orange twist.
I debated heavily whether this was the time for a low-proof cocktail. It is January, an ideal time to start fresh and work on bad habits. On the other hand, current events seem to demand a bag of popcorn, a bottle of bourbon, and a large dollop of schadenfreude. Which way to go? In the end, this lovely little sipper won out. It’s rich and layered, like a good Manhattan, but it won’t ruin your New Year’s Resolutions, or your smug sense of satisfaction.
The Adonis is an old cocktail, dating back to 1884. The bartender at the Waldorf-Astoria crafted the drink to celebrate the 500th performance of Adonis , a burlesque show/musical that at that time was the longest running show on Broadway. (Rumor has it that George Santos was the leading man.) It’s an incredibly simple drink — two ingredients in equal proportions, maybe some bitters to smooth over the rough patches. Ever since its inception, it’s been in the back pocket of crafty bartenders worldwide. There’s always a demand for something not too strong to finish an evening.
It should go without saying that, if you’re making a two-ingredient cocktail, you need to pick two good ingredients. Don’t go for cheap vermouth here. And definitely do not use “cooking sherry” from the grocery store. At best, it’s bad sherry. At worst, it’s bad sherry with a ton of salt added to make it undrinkable. Find something nice that you’d consider drinking neat. In a glass like this, you don’t have anywhere to hide your mistakes.
Ingredient shot. The cocktail disappeared elegantly while the dishes were being washed. Matthew Hooper
Let’s talk ingredients:
Gallo Sweet Vermouth: There are better vermouths out there, but I’m fond of Gallo. Pick something hearty, fruity, and fairly sweet. Carpano Antico would be a very good choice. Vermouth has a place in many terrific modern cocktails, like the Manhattan and the Negroni, so odds are good that you’ll find a few solid options at your local liquor store. It is imperative that you keep your vermouth in the fridge for storage. It’s a fortified wine, not liquor. The added alcohol, spices, and sugar grant vermouth some stability, but it will go bad if you leave it on the kitchen counter for a week or two. A chilled bottle will be tasty for months.
Harvey’s Bristol Cream Solera Sherry: Sherry is another fortified wine, but it’s not made in the same way as vermouth. Sherry is made by careful aging with additional sugar and yeast past the normal wine-making process. Vermouth gets most of its character from the botanicals used in its creation. It’s helpful to taste the two side by side: Vermouth is spicy and a little harsh, while sherry is nutty and smooth.
A lot of sherries are quite sweet, but crisp variations like fino sherry are available as well. Sherry doesn’t show up in classic cocktails as often as vermouth. Some very clever bartenders are using it as a sweetener instead of sugar in classic drinks, but it’s not called for in the old recipes. As a result, it’s much harder to find sherry in America that’s meant for the bar instead of the cooking pot. Harvey’s is a pretty easy brand to find, but you might need to do some hunting. If you can find a fino sherry, grab it. A dry, almondine sherry to balance out the jam-like quality of good vermouth will be a match made in heaven. Just like vermouth, keep your sherry in the fridge after you open it.
Orange bitters: Orange bitters aren’t strictly necessary in this glass, but they do have a way of smoothing over rough patches in cocktails when the ingredients aren’t cooperating. This version of the Adonis could use a little less sweetness and more complexity. The bitters bring needed elements to the glass to make everything work.
Orange twist: Don’t skip this garnish. The scent of citrus when you bring your nose to the glass will brighten the drink without adding unwelcome acid.
Technique: You can, and probably should, stir this drink with a barspoon in a heavy-bottomed mixing glass. But swirling everything together in a pint glass with some ice works too. If you’ve already chilled your vermouth and sherry, you won’t need to work hard to get the drink cold and blended. Enjoy your virtuous decadence while you can, and don’t sweat the details.
In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! And if you'd like to buy some bar gear or books from Amazon, please click here!
[Editrix's note: It's an early cocktail hour this week, we typed our fingers to the bone in the liveblog. CHIN CHIN.]