The second cocktail to examine is the Red Hook, created only
ten years ago by Vincenzo Errico at Milk & Honey. This
is the most popular of Brooklyn variations (something we discussed last post),
with Punt e Mes playing the role of both vermouth and bittering agent for Amer
Picon. To bartenders, the beauty of this drink is more its balance than its
flavour. Given almost any three ingredients (within reason), applying a Red
Hook structure will surprisingly often make a dry, balanced flavour. Some
bartenders like to push the maraschino to half an ounce, but I implore you to
add no more than a quarter lest the drink become sweet, cloying, and the
liqueur dominate the flavour. Here is the ratio:
- 2 part spirit
- ½ part fortified wine
- ¼ part liqueur
Like the Negroni, there are numerous options just with the
above ingredients, but swapping similar ingredient-types gives a mind-boggling
number of options. A fun experiment is to randomly choose a spirit and any two
ingredients off the backbar and add them together in Red Hook ratios (using
your judgment) and you’ll be surprised at how well these drinks tend to turn
out. Keep in mind that the spirit is your drying element, the ½ oz ingredient
will add flavour but also soften edges and strong flavours, and the ¼ oz
ingredient is potent and therefore requires only a small amount. Reserve strong
flavours, like Chartreuse or Fernet, for the ¼ oz.
Below again are just a few variations, the first two from
Pourhouse in Vancouver, and the last again from yours truly.
Name Spirit Fortified Wine Liqueur Additions
Red Hook rye Punt
e Mes maraschino
Crit Milano Booker’s bourbon Averna Strega
Wilhemsen’s Linie Akvavit (1.75) Bitter Truth EXR Campari
Hire Elijah Craig bourbon Averna Y.
Chartreuse Bitter Truth Aromati Bitters, Ardbeg rinse
The Red Hook ratios also lend themselves extremely well to
classic cocktails, some of which may seem unbalanced to our modern palates. Try
some of the below and you’ll be inspired to scour old cocktail books looking
for old ideas to update.
La Louisiane rye sweet vermouth Benedictine Angostura,
Martinez gin sweet vermouth maraschino Boker’s bitters
Toronto rye Fernet Branca simple
syrup Angostura (3 dashes)
The next time you find a drink you think might be unbalanced
or you come up with a combination of ingredients you want to try, look to
classic structures. They’re classic for a reason.
Read more from Cocktails.