Cocktail Dispatch

A great riff from Rome

Recently I met up with a bunch of friends at the Hotel Locarno. We settled into their lovely garden and yes I ordered a Negroni (they make a very good one there!) We were a big group and there was a variety of cocktails making their way to the table from the extensive bar menu—including a very good classic daiquiri. The one drink that caught my eye though, was a deep burgundy colored drink, served straight up in a coupe with a garnish of orange peel… what is that I asked? (I was lucky enough to be sitting across from Caterina, the charming owner of the hotel) It is a Roma-Bracciano… a variation on the Milano-Torino or Torino-Milano depending where you are from. The Milano-Torino is named after the source of its ingredients - bitter (from Milano) and vermouth (from Torino) invented at the Caffè Camparino around 1860. Add a splash of soda and it’s an Americano, add gin and it’s a Negroni—get it? The Roma-Bracciano nods to the bartender’s two towns he lives in (Rome and nearby Bracciano), and the stellar ingredient in this cocktail is Rabarbaro Zucca. This gentle bitter/sweet amaro is made from the roots of rhubarb and offers a complex addition. This drink starts with a cocktail shaker of ice, add 1.5 ounces of Campari, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, 1 ounce of Zucca and a few dashes of orange bitters. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a peel of orange and basta! This delightful riff is now a house standard. Salute!

Matt Hranek