Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, The Trinidad Sour!

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Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, The Trinidad Sour!

Mmmm. Nothing like a big, cold glass of Angostura bitters.

Matthew Hooper

Greetings, Wonketeers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. Let me show you a little something off the “secret menu” tonight. When I finish a shift, I don’t want a margarita or martini. I want something intense, bitter, and outrageous — the kind of drink I’d make as a dare. Let’s wipe down the bar, mop the floor, and make a Trinidad Sour. Here’s the recipe.

Trinidad Sour

1.5 oz Angostura Bitters

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz orgeat

½ oz Rittenhouse Rye

½ oz Demerara syrup

Shake all ingredients and serve in a Nick and Nora glass. This cocktail is 31% ABV, or 67 proof.

Yes, those measurements are correct. An ounce and a half of bitters. Technically, this is fine. Bitters were originally created both as medicine and cocktail ingredients. They’re 114 proof, and perfectly safe to drink by the ounce. Of course, you can also eat parsley by the fistful. That doesn’t make it particularly appealing.

But if you’re clever, you can transform a seasoning into the main course. A bunch of parsley can be a nice salad with the right recipe. With proper technique, bitters can be front and center in your glass.

Unsurprisingly, this cocktail took a while to catch on with customers. Giuseppe Gonzales first wrote the cocktail in 2009. It didn’t really catch on with the public until 2018. Bartenders fell in love with it right away. Modern mixologists love amaros, fernets, and other bitter flavor bombs. Used in moderation, they can completely transform classics like the Manhattan. Cynar, an artichoke-based aperitif, is gaining ground as a “secret ingredient.” Angostura makes an amaro that’s a delight. I’ve served amaros with Jagermeister as a killer after-dinner drink.

And then there’s Fernet Branca. Branca’s been a darling of the industry for years now. This dark, menthol spirit shows up in dense cocktails that need a little lift. Real industry pros drink shots of this stuff all weekend. Somehow, this weird little drink becomes utterly addictive when you need to stay on your feet past midnight. (And yes, there’s a Branca sour.)

Let’s talk ingredients:

Ingredient shot. The Trinidad Sour disappeared shortly after this photo was taken. (Seriously, this thing is yummy.)Matthew Hooper

Angostura Bitters: If you’re lucky, you can pry the little shaker top off your bottle. If not, be ready to do a lot of shaking into your measuring glass. I don’t think that there are many bitters other than Angostura that work here. Orange bitters, cocoa bitters, or celery bitters would all be challenging.

However, there are a ton of amaros and digestifs that would plug into this formula just fine. Angostura makes an amaro that creates a softer, less harsh Trinidad sour. With some ingredient swaps, a Cynar sour would be awesome. I would even use Jagermeister here, with less sugar. Go crazy, be bold, and use something you’d never dare to drink neat.

Lemon Juice: The thing that makes a sour a sour. Acid and sugar plus booze is a platform that all sorts of spirits stand on to make cocktails. Daiquiris, gimlets, and sours all follow this same basic formula. This cocktail proves that even outrageous flavor bombs can be turned into sours successfully.

Orgeat: Orgeat is the backbone of this drink. Without this sweet, nutty, earthy ingredient, the bitters would be impossible to balance. It’s possible to make this almond flour syrup at home. But in all honesty, it’s a pain in the butt. I buy mine from Amazon. It’s a touch pricey, but keep it in the fridge after you open it. Spring’s right around the corner. I promise we’ll use it all up once we hit tiki season.

Rye Whiskey: Some peppery rye provides additional spice notes the Angostura is lacking, along with some sorely needed earthiness. I’m using Rittenhouse Rye. It hits all the right notes with no apologies. I’ll note that Rittenhouse Rye was first created in 1934 in Pennsylvania. It would be a shame if you let an ugly teenager woo you away from a spirit that’s older than his grandfather.

Demerara Syrup: A little bit more sugar gives this drink enough space to breathe, and alleviates some of the bitterness. I’ve used this a bunch before, but to reiterate: 1 part sugar in the raw, 1 part water, heat until the sugar’s melted.

I’ve done a few modern classics in a row that don’t lend themselves to NA versions. I apologize for that. Next week, an NA cocktail will be front and center, and the drinkers can add liquor as they see fit. We’ll need some prep time, though. Make up this ingredient some time next week. It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.

Blueberry Shrub

1 cup blueberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

Place the blueberries and sugar in a glass jar. Muddle the blueberries. Cover with a loose lid or cheesecloth and let sit in a cool dark place for 3 days. Add vinegar and let rest for 1 day. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or nut bag and refrigerate.

On that cocktail cliffhanger, 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!


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Matthew Hooper
Matthew Hooper, aka Samurai Grog, turned 50 in 2021 and decided to have a midlife crisis by leaving a boring sales and marketing job to tend bar at the local country club. He's never been happier. He's also a fencer, a dad, a husband, and a punk music fan. Overall, he's way cooler than he ever thought he could be when he was 16. 

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