It’s Negroni Week–sponsored by Imbibe Magazine and, of course, Campari.

We are excited to see this cocktail grow in popularity in the country and are excited to be a part of the Negroni movement!

But first, a little background into this historic tipple. The Negroni or “King of the Aperitivo” is believed to have originated by Count Camillo Negroni of Florence around 1919-20. It is an “aperitivo” cocktail; that is “an opening” drink that refers to the time when Italians meet after work before heading home for dinner. Aperitif liqueurs and cocktails are said to stimulate or excite the appetite, cleanse the palate, and prep the taste buds prior to the feast.

The Negroni actually evolved from the Americano which came into being around 1860. The Americano (‘amer’ indicating bitter, not American) cocktail was first served in Caffè Casoni, and originally called the “Milano-Torino” because of its two alcoholic ingredients: Campari, the bitter liqueur, is from Milano and Cinzano vermouth from Torino. The legend describes Count Negroni as the coolest guy on the block (noble, wealthy, well-traveled, full of anecdotes and stories, and a great tipper) who befriended the bartender of Caffè Casoni. Mr. Fosco Scarselli mixed the count a stronger tipple by adding a London dry gin to the mix and changing the garnish from a lemon peel to an orange slice.

NOTE: An important life lesson: When in doubt add GIN. The rest is drinking history.

Audrey Saunders, the queen of gin and proprietor of The Pegu Club in NYC, has a Negroni philosophy the Gintender completely agrees with: Because of Campari’s potentially overwhelming bitter palate, this drink screams for a heavy juniper, classic dry gin.

The recipe:

1 oz of a heavy juniper classic dry gin (think Beefeater flavor profile)
1 oz of sweet vermouth (the better quality the vermouth, the better the Negroni)
1 oz of Campari
Stir over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with an orange slice or twist.

An appreciation for bitter in food and drink is said to be the pinnacle of a sophisticated palate. Bitter libations are also wonderfully refreshing and ideal on hot summer days. All this aside, the Negroni may be too bitter for some. In that case we recommend bumping up the gin slightly to 1.25 oz and lowering the Campari to 0.75 oz. Another simple tweak is to split the ounce of Campari with another less bitter liqueur. For example, Aperol (Italian bitter blood orange liqueur) is slightly less bitter.

Try this Gintender tweak at Wisdom this week:

N.B.I. (Nicholas on the Beach in Italy)
1.25 oz of barrel-aged Cardinal Gin from North Carolina
1.0 oz of Dolin Rouge Vermouth
0.75 oz of Campari
0.25 oz of Contratto Fernet Liqueur
Stir over ice in a rocks glass
Optional Garnish: Mint sprig

Tastings Notes:
The barrel-aged gin provides an extra depth to the drink and the gin’s peppermint finish blends extremely well with the mint in the Fernet liqueur.

Oh My Tonic!


**Tammy Taylor Manager and head bartender at Church & State in Washington, D.C.**

By Tammy Taylor

I have a confession to make. I am obsessed with liquor, and it’s not just a small obsession. It’s huge and not just with drinking it. Though, I do not deny that’s part of it. I’m obsessed with what I can do to make it different, well, better. So when presented with a recipe to make my own tonic at Church&State, I jumped on it.

Originally, tonic was used for medicinal purposes to ward off against malaria in South America and Africa. The “tonic” was made by soaking the bark from the South American cinchona (kenKEEnah) tree to extract quinine, a natural prophylactic against malaria, and then drinking it as a tea. The quinine tonic was so bitter that eventually the British added lime and gin to tame the bitterness of the drink…so the tonic came first and the gin was the mixer! Thus the beloved “gin and tonic” was born.

But the tonic we drink today is a far cry from what the British drank back then. The first commercial tonic was produced in Britain in the 1850s by adding soda water and sugar. In 1953, Schweppes Beverage Co. brought to the American market. The quinine in the American tonic is produced by a chemical extraction; not by soaking tree bark. It also contains a lot less quinine because the U.S Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of quinine to 83 parts per million. This dilution, along with the high fructose corn syrup that is added, makes it a lot less bitter. It can be argued that American tonic produced for bars on the rail is so far removed from the original formula that it shouldn’t even be called tonic water.

How awesome was it to find out that it was not only better, but easy to make. I found the cinchona bark online without much trouble so I bought it and began experimenting. The earthiness you get is amazing and I, a non-bitter drinker, don’t even mind how bitter and sour it tastes. I haven’t had a gin yet that hasn’t been complimented by my new obsession. I have since modified the recipe and created the “tonic of the month” for our bars. So far, I’ve steeped in lavender, rose hip and the current tonic is hibiscus.

Here is a basic tonic recipe from Imbibe Magazine that you can try at home. If you’re not feeling that adventurous, come to Wisdom or Church&State to give my fresh tonic of the month a try.

4 cups water
3 cups pure cane sugar
3 Tbsp. quinine (powdered cinchona bark)
6 Tbsp. powdered citric acid
3 limes, zested and juiced
3 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil until the sugar dissolves, then turn the heat down to low. Add the quinine, citric acid, lemongrass, lime zest and lime juice. Stir well and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the powders are dissolved and the syrup is thin and runny. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain out the large chunks through a colander, then filter through cheesecloth or coffee filters to refine. This step can take a while—and many filters—as the bark is a very fine powder, so be patient.

*Gintender’s drunken wisdom*

If you are a fan of gin and tonics and you are sipping a super premium gin opt for a better tonic. It makes a dramatic difference! Schweppes is a solid choice as are artesian products such as Fevertree or Q tonic out of Brooklyn. If you are in a bar and have no options other then harsh rail tonic, consider choosing a heavier juniper London dry style gin versus a “New Western style” softer juniper spirit, that will be able to stand up to the tonic.

Winter OR-G

Start your New Year off right with a Winter OR-G (or orgy if you prefer).

OR-G is a brand new liqueur (or at least to the U.S.A.) from France and is the first liqueur to use Permission fruit. Persimmon is an exotic tropical fruit that brings a deliciousness that can’t be found in any other spirit.  Even using a small amount in a simple cocktail adds a completely new twist.

In OR-G’s own words:

OR-G is a tempting blend of Ultra-Premium Vodka and Persimmon mingling with Papaya, Mango and Lime Juices. Created by Master Spirit maker Jean Marc Daucourt, OR-G’s exotic design is not only intended to deliver amazing taste, but adds a sensuality to the drinking experience. OR-G is also highly mixable, lending itself to a variety of tempting cocktail creations. At 17% Alcohol by Volume, OR-G is perfect by itself or ready to be mixed with your favorite Spirit, to add that little extra pop you need to get the party started.


Without a doubt, OR-G is an interesting liqueur that at the very least is worth a try.  If you’re not feeling all that creative, here’s a simple concoction to get you started:

Winter OR-G

.5 oz Stones Ginger wine
1.5 oz OR-G
Cardamom bitters

Muddle 1/4 lime and a generous slice of fresh persimmon fruit on the bottom of shaker with 0.5 oz of stones ginger wine. Add ice and 1.5 oz of OR-G. Shake and pour over rocks in a collins glass add soda and a dash of cardamom bitters.

Give this a try and let The Gintender know what you think below or send us an email!

The Gintender’s Carmel Cider

2011-10-26 pumpkin pie time 013We’re bringing back our weekly recipes and there is no better way to kick things off than The Gintender’s Carmel Cider.

Smooth, delicious and potent…this isn’t your half-assed spiked cider beverage.

Gintender’s Carmel Cider
1.5 oz of Caramel Vodka
0.5 oz of Becherovka liqueur
5.0 oz of cider or pressed apple juice
Dash of ground cloves

Heat and stir with cinammon stick. (Best if served warm, but also delicious cold!)

Give this one a try and let us know what you think below!

Help the Gintender Win “Trading Up” Competition

Gin tasting

We need your help Gintender faithfuls!

The Gintender has entered his very own “Miller’s Crossing” cocktail into the Martin Miller’s Gin  “Trading Up” Cocktail Competition (you will need to “like” the page in order to see the details).  We need your vote to win!  All you need to do is go to this Facebook page and “like” the drink!

Not convinced Martin Miller’s Gin is your gin?  Well we highly recommend it and we think you should give “Miller’s Crossing” a chance!  Here is the recipe:


2.0 oz Martin Miller’s Gin
.25 oz Curacao
1.0 oz Grapefruit Juice
1.0 oz Aloe Vera Juice
Dash of Agave Nectar


Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a slice of star fruit.

Give it a try and let us know what you think.  And don’t forget to vote!  Also make sure to check these other great entrants.

The grand prize is $500, so if the Gintender wins, we’ll be giving out $500 worth of drinks at Wisdom!

New Infusions at Fruit Bat

Fruit Bat introduced its new Spring menu last week and here are just a few of the refreshing concoctions available.

Photo by T. Silva

The Mexican Showdown

The Mexican Showdown is Milagro silver Tequila and blackberry liqueur infused with Habaneros.  The spicy concoction is infused for a minimum of a 7 days.  It is shaken with fresh pomegranate juice which tames the heat from the chilis and adds another layer of depth.  A sweet berry flavor followed by a slow burn.  It is offered as a shot, a cocktail (with ice & soda water) or a martini.




Photo by T. Silva


The Key Lime Pie Martini

The Key Lime Pie Martini is a creamy vegan concoction made with Vodka, Tuaca liqueur, fresh key lime juice and vanilla soymilk.  It is very smooth with a nice tart flavor that is more subtle than straight lime juice.  Nicely balanced with a silky texture…one to be savoured.




Photo by T. Silva

The Robin

The Robin uses Fruit Bat’s most popular beer-Xingu Black Beer.  We add Espresso Vodka and Kahlua Especial (which features a richer coffee flavor and extra kick than the original).  Xingu is a silky lager with sweet notes that match incredibly with coffee flavors.  The result is an exotic cocktail, one that can be enjoyed by both beer drinkers and cocktail enthusiasts alike.








Photo by T. Silva

The Blueberry Caipirinha

The Blueberry Caipirinha is Fruit Bats current Caipirinha offering.  We always have a house Caipirinha and house Caiprowska (with Vodka as the base) on the menu.  Fresh muddle lime and cachaca infused with blueberries is the base.  In this version we add a blueberry puree and substitute agave nectar for simple syrup.  Refreshing & tropical, it is one of our most popular offerings.



Photo by T. Silva

The Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean cocktail is based on a rum infusion of Pineapple and cardamom.  The fresh fruit and exotic spice mix masterfully together.  We serve this as a shot, cocktail or martini.  It is a vacation in a glass.

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