It's days before Thanksgiving, and we're being clobbered with recipes for steamed turkey, curried brussels sprouts and complex squash purees. Yet, while Thanksgiving surely involves cooking for days — then devouring everything in under 30 minutes — it can also be rich with awkward distant-relative encounters. What better time to get liquored up?
Yes, Beaujalois and Pinot Noir and Riesling shine ever so on the Thanksgiving table, but sometimes you need a stiff cocktail to blunt the holiday's edges.
Since I've just had a particularly trying week, I've had plenty of inspiration to experiment with that simple but gorgeous concoction, the Negroni. In its classic form, the Negroni is a sweet-bitter blend of gin, sweet vermouth and the Italian bitter Campari. A bad one can taste like airplane fuel, but a great one is bracing, juicy and too easy to make. And, since all of the elements contain alcohol, it can also get you quite buzzed, quite fast. (One Negroni is really all you need; two could cause trouble.)
Since I'm a fan of tequila and its warmth, I made an exciting discovery this week: It sings in a Negroni. A splash of tequila — instead of gin — lends a sunny, uncomplicated tinge to the drink, as if Oaxaca had kissed the glass. It also imparts a deep rose-pink color.
Though blanco tequila works OK, I prefer the buttery smoothness that an anejo (aged) tequila lends; the hint of oak rubs the edges off of the Campari, and a curl of lemon (instead of the traditional orange) adds citrusy zing.
So, next week, before you find yourself in a political tiff with your second cousin or defending your 'lifestyle' from your 88-year-old grandmother, mix yourself one of these. Better yet, make them for the whole table.
1 oz. anejo or reposado tequila (white can work, too)
3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
Add ingredients to a tumbler, then add ice and stir well. Garnish with lemon peel and serve.