I’ve talked about my obsession with bitters before so won’t repeat myself, but ever since I read about Valentino Bolognese’s winning cocktails at the European heat of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge I just knew I had to try them. Unlike your typical cocktail which uses just a few dashes of a particular bitters these drinks use larger amounts, in some cases up to a whole ounce, which both excited and frightened me in equal measure. Surely using such intense ingredients in such large quantities just won’t work?
- ⅔ shot / 20 ml / ⅔ oz light rum
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz Martini Bianco
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz Bitter Martini
- ⅓ shot / 10 ml / ⅓ oz Tio Pepe sherry
- ⅓ shot / 10 ml / ⅓ oz Angostura Orange bitters
- Stir well with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist.
I was holding out for a bottle of Bitter Martini, an obscure product from the Martini & Rossi family about which I can find nearly no information, before trying the Ri.Pa Deuxième. However, I can’t find even a trace of it anywhere so have instead changed the recipe to use Campari, with a little extra Martini Bianco to balance the fact that Bitter Martini is apparently less bitter than Campari.
The combination of Campari and so much orange bitters made me expect a cocktail that was entirely bitter, but the drink starts with a zesty orange flavour which is followed by a slight sweetness and some hints of the sherry. I was beginning to wonder where all the orange bitters had gone, but the bitter flavours some came rolling in, with a heavy Campari finish and some orange notes in the background.
I’ve a feeling the use of Campari perhaps overwhelmed the already fairly bitter drink resulting in an interesting but not particularly amazing cocktail. It has enjoyable enough flavours but the balance just isn’t there, at least with my modified version. If I ever come across a bottle of Bitter Martini I will definitely be trying this one again though.
- 1 shot / 30 ml / 1 oz Angostura Aromatic bitters
- 1 shot / 30 ml / 1 oz orgeat syrup
- ⅔ shot / 20 ml / ⅔ oz lime juice
- ⅓ shot / 10 ml / ⅓ oz Pisco Mistral
- Shake well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime zest twist.
Like the Ri.Pa Deuxième I had to make a compromise in order to be able to make the Trinidad Especial. Pisco is very difficult to get hold of here in Britain, and just a few brands are available at an even smaller selection of shops. Pisco Mistral, which the recipe originally called for, is an aged pisco and not available here, and unfortunately none of the other piscos available are aged either. Instead then, I’ve used an unaged pisco and added a small amount of Cognac to hopefully add in some of the aged character that is otherwise missing.
In case you’re wondering, that isn’t a typo in the recipe above – the Trinidad Especial really does use a full shot of Angostura Aromatic bitters. It looks absolutely amazing, with a cloudy, deep red colour that makes it look very appetising. Surprisingly the initial taste is a citrus zing from the lime juice, which is followed by a delicious clove taste and a fair amount of sweetness. Only towards the end do the bitter flavours of the Angostura really come forward, with a long, dry and aromatic finish which remains remarkably balanced.
It’s an insane recipe, but they do say there is a fine line between madness and genius and this cocktail is just on the right side of that line. The unique mix of ingredients creates a very interesting cocktail with a complex and evolving flavour. Definitely worth trying if you can get your head around using so much bitters in one drink…
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