I certainly don’t think myself a revolutionary, but I do consider whiskey-drinking serious business. So too, it seems, did settlers along the frontier of a fledgling United States, judging by the events of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Range, a popular and very cool restaurant in San Francisco, references this troubled time in the nation's history with a 1794 cocktail, which Sarah and I sampled during our holiday visit to California.
This tasty libation is based on rye whiskey, which can be a bit hard to come by these days (at least in Queens), but was the prevailing brown stuff back in the country's youth. Basically a Manhattan with an Italian twist, or perhaps a Negroni dreaming of the Big Apple, the 1794 will appeal to lovers of both its forebears. Complementing the rich spiciness of the whiskey is a slight bitter bite of Campari. Rounding that out is the sweetness of vermouth. Binding it all together is an aromatic flamed orange peel for garnish. Oh yeah, now that’s a taste fit for adults!
The proportions of the main ingredients are subject to debate—really, it depends on where your taste resides on the Manhattan/Negroni, or sweet/bitter, scale. During my personal fine-tuning, I had fun convincing open-minded NYC bartenders to play along with me—Kerrin and Scott of PJ's Steakhouse and Gates of Gstaad, many thanks.
1½ ounces rye whiskey
½ ounce Campari
¾ ounce sweet vermouth
Strip of orange peel
Begin by chilling a martini glass. Add rye, Campari, and vermouth to a mixing glass. Next add lots of ice. Stir for a good twenty seconds to ensure everything is nicely mixed and chilled. Strain contents of mixing glass into your cold martini glass. Now take the orange peel and warm its outside skin gently with a lighter or match. Lower flame directly above the drink and squeeze the peel with its outside skin pointing downward. The essence should hit the flame, then spark up. To finish, rub the peel around the edge of the glass and garnish.
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