Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Bottecchia

Bottecchia 2

Ingredients:

1oz Campari

1oz Cynar

1oz Fernet-Branca

Kosher Salt

Grapefruit Twist

Instructions:

Add the Campari, Cynar and Fernet-Branca to a chilled mixing glass. Throw in a pinch of kosher salt and stir to dissolve. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express the oils from the grapefruit twist over the drink and then discard.

Notes:

Crisp. Bitter citrus, caramel, salt water on the nose. Smooth on the tongue, Bottecchia is light on the front end, followed by a blast of herbs, citrus, earth and raisins. The finish is fresh, minty and bitter with a salty taste that lingers on your tongue. This one is surprisingly lighter than you might expect given it’s ingredients. The color is also beautiful, dark and inky.


Bottecchia


History:

Bottecchia comes from Kevin Burke of Colt and Gray in Denver, Co.

I have to confess that I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Bottecchia for quite some time. On paper it sounded perfect, a mega substituted Negroni composed of 3 of my favorite ingredients: Cynar for vermouth (done that a few times before) and Fernet-Branca instead of gin…. you read right, instead of gin. Only Campari remained. Plus the addition of salt and a grapefruit twist? I mean come on, this thing sounded great.

To top it off I had made a very similar drink prior to this, Earthen Infusion, which had the 3 ingredients in Bottecchia as well as Bonal (basically a bitter earthy vermouth). I was a big fan of Earthen Infusion (in fact it drained most of my Bonal at the time). What could go wrong?

Eager to try it, I mixed up a Bottecchia and was shocked at how much I disliked it. How could you combine 3 things I love and have it taste like crap? I couldn’t believe it. Naturally, I thought there was something wrong with my taste buds. So I kept trying it, over and over and over again, during those times when you were in the mood for something “different.” No luck. Eventually, I got to the point where I found it tolerable at room temperature, but still wasn’t a fan of the chilled final product.


Bottecchia 4


So what gives? Why am I posting a drink that I can’t stand? Well kids this is a perfect lesson in how your tastes evolve over time. I had left Bottecchia behind for some time and on a whim gave it another shot recently. Expecting to again be disappointed, I took a sip and damn if I didn’t love it! I couldn’t believe that I finally had come around to it.

Thinking back on it, it does make sense. I wasn’t a big fan of Campari, or Fernet, or even Gin at first. It takes time to develop a taste for certain things, and I’ll be the first to admit that some of my favorite drinks are definitely an acquired taste. Thing is once you get a taste for them, you crave them. Just ask any self-proclaimed Fernetophiles out there. Bottecchia was no different. The taste is just  quite unique and a bit different and it takes some time to wrap your head (and tongue) around it. In the end, I’m really glad that I did.

Morale of the story: don’t write off cocktails or ingredients if at first you don’t love them. You might be surprised at what you develop a taste for down the line. I hope you’ll give Bottecchia a chance. I know I’ll be making many more of this one.


7 Responses to “Bottecchia”

  1. Ellen

    Huh. I saw this and thought “my favorite things!”. I wonder if my reaction will be the same as yours. As soon as I grab a grapefruit I’ll find out.

    Reply
      • Ellen

        I must confess, I liked it. I like the ultra bitter but sort of sweet taste. But I could only drink about an ounce before I was sated. Are you still at the “only tolerable” phase?

  2. Pinarello | The Straight Up

    […] While I don’t really make any money from this site (what little comes in supports it stayin’ alive), I can’t really donate any “proceeds,” but that doesn’t mean I can’t share a little Negoni riff with you all. This one is a riff on one of my favorite Negroni variations, Bottechia. […]

    Reply

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