L’Allegro Cocktail

L'Allegro Cocktail

Every cocktail recipe has two kinds of ingredients: liquids and history. Since the L’Allegro cocktail is my own mix I know the history, and I’ll start with that, but feel free to skip right to the recipe if you’re in a hurry.

Back in the day (a phrase I am old enough to use without irony), Will and I would often go out and have dinner and a few cocktails together. At the time, ordering even a Manhattan was somewhat unusual; trendy places were just starting to offer a selection of single-malt scotch, and it was well before vodka-and-stuff was called a “martini.” I recall one evening where we had more than our share of them at Turner Fisheries, somehow ending up on stage holding our drinks and being called the “Manhattan Guys.” I still make them on a regular basis; there is a reason it is a classic that you can order in almost any bar.

More recently, one of my early adventures in classic craft cocktails was the Brooklyn. Whiskey and dry vermouth were on my shelves, but maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon were not. That was the beginning of my exploration of amari, since Amer Picon is not available for purchase in the United States. The best advice I found was to use Amaro Ramazotti with orange bitters. It would be four more years before Will had the opportunity to make one for real, confirming the bitter orange notes. If you have never tried a Brooklyn, be sure to ask for one next time you’re in a craft bar.

I came to enjoy amari a great deal, both straight up as a digestif and mixed in many experimental cocktails. At one point I just decided to mix bourbon and amaro. It was really good, and though I came up with my own name for the drink, it turns out I was not the only one to have this simple idea. The cocktail is now widely called a Black Manhattan. I sometimes make them with rye, Irish whiskey, or scotch, and they’re all tasty and trivial to make.

Finally, I happened upon Somerset Maugham’s transformative suggestion of adding an absinthe rinse to a Dry Martini. Literature and cocktails go well together, as you will see below.

My goal was to synthesize all the best elements of these drinks, both their ingredients and their memories. As always, I prefer that cocktails are straightforward to measure and mix. With a fair amount of tinkering, then, L’Allegro was the result:

L’Allegro Recipe

Mixing Glass - Consumatorium Rocks Glass
  • 2 oz Rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Amaro
  • 1/8 oz Absinthe
  • Maraschino Cherry

Add the rye, vermouth, and amaro to a mixing glass half-full of ice, and stir until very cold. Rinse or spray a chilled rocks glass with absinthe, add one large ice cube, and pour the drink in. Add the cherry to garnish.

The choice of ingredients is fairly important here. Now that a genuine variety of rye products is available (vs. the “craft marketing” of bottling and labeling MGP whiskey, make sure to pick one you like – it’s two-thirds of the drink. Do make it an 80-proof rather than 100. Next, the particular amaro is crucial. Averna, generally a Consumatorium favorite, is too chocolatey and heavy for this drink, and Montenegro is potentially distracting with its one-two punch. Ramazotti is the most neutral and the one we like the best here, although Meletti makes it just a little sweeter and sometimes that’s good. I tried it with Nonino, and it was no better than the Ramazzotti at twice the cost. The key to dry vermouth, as always, is less the brand and more the freshness, though Carpano Dry does add just a little sparkle. Finally, Pernod is now available in smaller bottles and you should have one in your bar.

Consumatorium Recommends

  • Bulleit Rye Whiskey (if you don’t have another favorite)
  • Amaro Ramazotti
  • Carpano Dry Vermouth
  • Pernod Absinthe
  • Luxardo cherry

The name is Italian for “the cheerful one” or perhaps “the happy man.” Pronounce it “la lay grow,” or practice this between sips. The eponymous poem by John Milton includes lines like these:

Haste thee nymph, and bring with thee Jest and youthful Jollity…

Come, and trip it as ye go
On the light fantastic toe…

And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the live-long daylight fail

You get the idea. It’s happy hour.

Why You Will Like L’Allegro

It is familiar yet different: a smooth whiskey-forward mix, not quite as sweet as a Manhattan, not as rich and heavy as a Black Manhattan, not quite as heavy on the vermouth as a Brooklyn. The absinthe takes it beyond merely good to distinctive and memorable. The ingredients are staples for your home bar, usable in many other cocktails.

The Plane Margarita – An Old Family Frozen Margarita Recipe

The Plane Margarita - An Old Family Frozen Margarita RecipeAbout 25 years ago, while on a flight returning from a business trip to Mexico City, I was having the usual get-to-know-you, pre-flight conversation with my seat mate on the plane. At some point, I mentioned the fact that I really didn’t know how to make a real margarita. I told him I thought that typical recipes and mixes in the U.S. were too sweet and how I’d love to be able to make a margarita like the ones I had during my brief visit to Mexico City. He sympathized and told me that his family in Mexico had a frozen margarita recipe that they had used for as long as he could remember and he would be happy to share the recipe with me if I was interested.

I don’t remember my response, but I’m fairly sure it was something like, “hell yes!”

I tore a piece of paper out of my notebook and he scribbled it down. I was so excited to try it out, then, unfortunately, I lost the recipe before I ever had a chance to make it. Fast forward roughly 25 years and guess what I found? Yup, what I have referred to as the Plane Margarita for years. Now, just in time for Cinco de Mayo 25 years later, I not only finally made the Plane Margarita, but also documented the process with detailed, step-by-step instructions for Consumatorium readers.

Here’s the original recipe from the plane ride.

The Plane Margarita - An Old Family Frozen Margarita RecipeOK, yeah, the “makes ten gallons” thing is a bit scary. When I made it, I cut the recipe 20-fold, resulting in a total of 1/2 a gallon (64 oz). I’d suggest you make a smaller batch like this at first. If you like it, then go wild. You know how to multiply, right?

The Plane Margarita Recipe

  • 2 Cups (16 oz) Water
  • 3-3/4 oz Lime Juice (See How Much Juice Comes From a Lime?)
  • 1 Egg White
  • 4-1/4 oz Granulated Sugar (Rounded down a little from original recipe)
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 8 oz Tequila (I used Reposado)
  • Ice

You’ll also need something to beat the egg whites and sugar – a hand mixer of some type, electric or manual – and a blender.

As the recipe above says, you’re going to make a lime juice mixture containing water, lime juice, sugar and an egg white. This mixture will sit overnight in the fridge. To make the lime juice mixture, start by pouring the water in a pot and heating until just before the boiling point. Your goal isn’t to boil off the water, but simply to make it hot.

Bring Water to Near Boil

While you’re heating the water, set aside the other ingredients. The sugar, egg and lime juice. 

Ready the Ingredients

Once the water has reached a near boil, add the lime juice. You’ll want to take the mixture off the stove and let it cool to the touch.

Stir in Lime Juice

While you’re waiting for the lime juice mixture to cool down a bit, you can work on prepping the rest of the mixture. Separate the egg white from the yoke. You’ll only need the white for the mixture.

Add Egg White

Beat the egg white(s) for a minute or two to get them nice and frothy.

Beat Egg White

Fold in the sugar and keep beating the mixture. 

Fold in Sugar

The volume increases a lot.

Frothy Margarita Goodness

Finally, add the egg white/sugar part of the mixture to the lime juice and water combo.

Combine Egg, Sugar, Water and Lime

Mix the two together by hand. 

Store Mixture in Fridge Overnight

There’s a critical point missed in the writing of the recipe. Perhaps the guy on the plane gave me the detail many years ago, but I had forgotten . . . How much, by measure, of the “lime juice” (that is, the combo of water, lime, egg and sugar) do you put in the blender? What I figured out through some experimentation is that he uses “blender” as a measurement and most blenders are 6 cups. So, once you fill the blender to the 6 cup level with ice, you pour in the “lime juice” to fill around the ice, but only up to the level of the ice. If you have a 6 cup blender, this is obvious. If you have a larger blender, as I do, it’s not quite as clear.

So, you will not be making a 1/2 gallon of the margarita at once. You’ll be making it in 6-cup batches. Really, it makes total sense when you’re doing it . . . I hope 🙂

With that all cleared up, I filled the blender with 6 cups of ice, then added 1 ounce of Cointreau and 8 ounces of Tequila. I then poured in the refrigerated mixture until it just covered all the ice. The blender does all of the heavy lifting. Make sure you run the blender long enough to get rid of any chunks of ice. You know you’re done when the final product is smooth and almost creamy in texture. 

Dispense into your favorite margarita glassware and enjoy. 

Why You’ll Like the Plane Margarita 

This recipe has all the great taste you’re looking for in a margarita without any of that synthetic sweet and sour gook that gets caught in the back of your throat. While I’m not partial to frozen margaritas, many people are. With a little preparation, you can make a ton of this stuff in batches for a party or even for just a handful of guests. It’s very smooth and tasty and entirely worth the extra effort.

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