Sunday 29 April 2012

Amaro April: "Welcome To The Dark Side" from Cin Cin

Heading north once again to beautiful Vancouver takes us to the heart of downtown, peering over the street lights and night-shoppers of Robson street. Multiple award-winning contemporary Italian restaurant, Cin Cin, has been a big name in the Vancouver food scene for some time, but like Blue Water Cafe, I sometimes wonder if people realize how amazing the bar program is as well. Ignore the misleading "fresh juice martini's" offer on the website and look at the actual bar menu that offers several excellent classics, and some solid and simple originals. Bourbon is a common theme here, and continue scanning down (or continue flipping through, next time you're there) the menu and you'll find pages and pages of grappa. You'll even find it in some of the cocktails, including their signature, the Negroni Cin Cin, featuring Beniamino moscato grappa, Punt e Mes, Aperol, and a few drops of orange bitters, served on the rocks with orange peel. In fact, Cin Cin is awaiting one more shipment that should give it the largest selection of grappa in North America (at the moment, I've been told only one restaurant in San Francisco is ahead).
The man behind this program is one of the true veterans of the Vancouver bar scene, CPBA director, Colin Turner. Bringing experience from over twenty years of being behind the bar in some capacity, Colin is an expert of the craft - and I mean bartending, not just mixology. He creates cocktails that suit your palate while being engaging, entertaining, and informative, making Cin Cin another top choice for a great drinking experience. He will also create something to pair nicely with your meal, believing that cocktails, particularly those of the bourbon persuasion, can work excellently alongside food - a view I very rarely encounter. Should you feel so inclined, the wine list is also award-winning, as is the dessert menu, so there is many a reason to make the trip.

Requesting to meet Colin to discuss Amaro April brought me not only a ton of information, but also some great drinks. I went through some originals he'd been tinkering with, including one with Bols genever, Amaro Ramazzotti, St. Germain, Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters, and orange peel, and another that I loved with Rittenhouse Bonded 100, Amaro Nardini, maraschino, and Bitter Truth aromatic bitters. Ultimately for his amaro post, I had to go with one currently on the menu, and one that will soon actually be tied around the neck of any bottle of Averna you buy from the BCLS (whenever they get around to bringing some in!) - "Welcome To The Dark Side."
When Colin tried a Black Manhattan, he found it to be terrible (though I argue he had a poorly-made one, because it can be a good drink), but found something in the mix that was worth tweaking. Using, as he puts it, the "full sweetness of Aperol" to pull the Averna and bourbon together, he balanced with just a little of St. Germain, which unlike most other liqueurs, has an "acidity that really cuts through." Adding just one other factor in the muddled orange peel to bring the oils to the full taste of the cocktail and not just the nose, it needed only a name, one he chose in honour of both a bumper sticker in the Cin Cin office, but also the several Star Wars geeks on staff. The sugar content feels quite high after you finish your glass, but it is not at all overly-sweet in your mouth as the bitterness of both amari balance things out and the bourbon provides a full-bodied backbone.

Welcome To The Dark Side

1.5oz Maker's Mark 46 Bourbon
1oz Amaro Averna
0.25oz Aperol
0.25oz St. Germain
Orange peel

Lightly muddle the orange peel in the mixing glass. Add ingredients, then ice and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a fresh orange peel, squeezing oils over the top of the glass.

If you're at all interested in grappa, or perhaps learning about a new spirit if you don't know what it is, Cin Cin is THE place to go, and all the staff are informative. It's not at all a spirit I know well, but I find myself stopping by there lately just to try a new kind. Head to Cin Cin soon if you can for both food and drink because they're both fantastic, or at the very least head there for a drink from Colin and take a turn to the Dark Side.

[[ See my post on amaro digestivos here ]]
[[ See my post on amaro aperivos here ]]
[[ See a buying guide for amaro here ]]

[[ See "The One Hit Wonder" from L'abattoir in Vancouver here ]]
[[ See "The Penny Farthing" from Pourhouse here ]]
[[ See an introduction to amaro  here ]]
[[ See "The Imperial Eagle" from Bourbon & Branch here ]]
[[ See "Sevilla" from Beretta here ]]
[[ See "Fallow Grave" from the Toronto Temperance Society here ]]
[[ See "The Black Prince" from Phil Ward here ]]
[[ See "Bad Apple" and "Jackson Ward" from Amor y Amargo here ]]
[[ See "The Four Horsemen" from Jay Jones at Shangri-La here ]]
[[ See Colin MacDougall from Blue Water Cafe here ]]
[[ See "Debbie Don't" from Dutch Kills here ]]
[[ See "Foolish Games" from Russel Davis here ]]
[[ See "Intro To Aperol" from Audrey Saunders at Pegu Club here ]]

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