The entire San Francisco Bay Area is so excited that our beloved 49ers are going to play in the Super Bowl this year against the Baltimore Ravens. It’s even more intriguing since it features many firsts: the first Superbowl appearance for the 49ers in this Millenium (last one was in 1994) , the first between 2 brothers (Jim and John Harbaugh) that will coach against each other and it will also be the first time one of these teams will unfortunately suffer a defeat (with a combined 6-0, the 49ers own 5 of those wins). We know that we can make Negronis as a red-tinged drink, but we’re in winter mode where whiskey, in particular Rye, is our preferred base.
In preparation for this year’s Super Bowl party, we needed to come up with some red cocktails to drink during the game. This first cocktail is really a whiskey-based Negroni. There are 2 cocktails that have similar ingredients but have different names: the Old Pal and the Boulevardier. The Old Pal is credited to Harry MacElhone in his 1922 book, ABC of Mixing Cocktails, which is made with equal parts Canadian Rye Whiskey, French Vermouth and Campari (1:1:1). The Boulevardier appeared in Harry’s 1927 book, Barflies and Cocktails, which uses bourbon in place of the Rye and increases the ratio of whiskey to bitters (1.5:1:1).
We tried several derivatives until we found one that we like which uses a 2:1:1 formula with Wild Turkey Rye or the San Francisco-owned Cyrus Noble Bourbon for the base. The basic ingredients are Rye Whiskey, Campari and Sweet Vermouth (it works well with Amaro or a mix of Vermouth and Amaro as well). It can be garnished with a cherry or lemon or orange twist. In this case, we chose a cherry, but will likely use a citrus twist on game day to make it a red and gold drink:
49er’s Old Pal
2 oz. Rye Whiskey or Bourbon
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Antica Carpano Vermouth)
Stir with ice in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry or citrus twist.
Since the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year, we also tried to find a Big Easy influence to add to a red cocktail. We really like Sazeracs and thought we would use that as the basis of the drink. Sazeracs are usually made with a Rye Whiskey, a sugar cube (or simple syrup), Peychaud’s bitters and a few splashes of Herbsaint (a wormwood-less absinthe-like liquor). Since Blood Oranges are in season now and very sweet, we used that to color the drink red and replace the sugar element (along with a little bit of Aperol). The Herbsaint was essential to this drink which balanced the overall flavors and make it more Sazerac-like.
The ingredients for this drink are Rye Whiskey, Aperol, Herbsaint, and blood oranges. This picture includes simple syrup and a Texas ruby red grapefruit since we wanted to try that version as well and will discuss it below. A barspoon of simple syrup can be added to the drink to taste or if the blood orange is too tart:
Bloody Raven Sazerac
2 oz. Rye Whiskey (Bulleit Rye)
1 oz. Blood Orange Juice
0.5 oz Aperol
Splash of Herbsaint
Prepare the cocktail glass by coating it with a splash of Herbsaint (discard any excess). Add the Rye, Aperol and blood orange juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to mix all ingredients together and double-strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with blood orange twists:
We won’t be serving this next drink at Super Bowl since it wasn’t red enough but we know that grapefruit juice and whiskeys have a natural affinity. This grapefruit was home-grown by a relative and was a little tart so we did add a barspoon of simple syrup to balance the flavors. Next time, we will try using pomelo juice since that tends to be less tart and more sweet at this time of the year:
2 oz. Rye Whiskey or Bourbon (Bulleit Rye)
1 oz. Grapefruit Juice
0.5 oz Aperol
1 barspoon of simple syrup
Splash of Herbsaint
Prepare the cocktail glass by coating it with a splash of Herbsaint (discard any excess). Add the Rye, Aperol, grapefruit juice and simple syrup (optional) into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to mix all ingredients together and double-strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with grapefruit twists:
A quick note on shaking vs. stirring cocktails: we asked a few San Francisco bartenders what their preference is and their responses all tended to agree: cocktails with citrus juices should be vigorously shaken to integrate the juices while the spirituous cocktails should be stirred. We’ll be following that recommendation from now on when passing along cocktail recipes.
Another Red Cocktail Recipe: Negroni