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Consumatorium - Mixology for the Rest of Us

The Official, Curated Consumatorium Lounge Music Playlist

Lounge MusicOver the last few years, we’ve done plenty of global bar hopping. Our main goal, of course, was to discover new cocktails and learn how they’re made. As it turns out, most cocktail bars are just cool places to hang out. They’re set up to create a mood and environment perfect for enjoying and lingering over the cocktails created by their bartenders. That includes the seating and furnishings, of course, but also the almost imperceptible lounge music that sets the tone for the experience.

So, we decided to bring more than the recipes and techniques home. We wanted to bring some of that atmosphere, too. We armed ourselves with Shazam and noted the music being played in the background. It’s so much of the experience after all. From there, we assembled a playlist, then expanded it with new tunes that we’ve discovered and felt made the Consumatorium experience that much better. Now, we’re ready to share it.

About 130 songs, 8-1/2 hours of drinking accompaniment – some instrumental, some vocal. Some, retro, some current. From big bands to electronica. From ballads to Salsa. From soft ambiance to mildly pulsating rhythms.

Best played on shuffle and at a volume that still lets you listen to the ice in your glass. Give it a spin and tell us what you think.

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

Plane Margarita

About 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 … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: New York City Craft Cocktail Bars – Dutch Kills and BlackTail

Dutch Kills Bar in Queens

It's just hard to beat New York City when it comes to excellent craft cocktail bars. It's not that every bar is outstanding, but the fact that there are a couple of dozen truly world class cocktail bars in the City makes the tide rise for all the … [Continue reading]

Making a Real Brooklyn Cocktail with Amer Picon

  Walking into any decent cocktail bar and ordering a Brooklyn Cocktail with Amer Picon will almost assuredly elicit a sad story about the dilution and final death of Amer Picon and how the bartender has spent years trying to create his or her … [Continue reading]

Learning How to Make a Pisco Sour at the Gates of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

I have never mixed many drinks with eggs. And, by not many, I mean none. I’ve just never felt compelled to add eggs to my mixology repertoire. So, it was with a little trepidation that I recently attended a Pisco Sour making demonstration. As with … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Orlando Craft Cocktail Bars

Drink at Hanson's

Recently, we found ourselves in Orlando, Florida and, as usual, set out on a mission to identify the best Orlando Craft Cocktail Bars. As it turns out, Orlando, like several other Florida cities we’ve visited, has a great craft cocktail scene. No, … [Continue reading]

Winter Warmer Cocktail

Winter Warmer

  As the days are getting colder and the nights downright freezing, I wanted to create a drink that cut through the temperatures and warmed people up from the inside. It needed a whiskey base which I paired with our in-your-face Ginger Simple … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Cuban Cocktail Adventures

Hotel Nacional de Cuba - Outside

When most of us think of Cuba, we have a romantic mental image made up of scenes from the 1950s, perhaps including Al Pacino visiting on the eve of the revolution (Godfather reference). A place full of nightclubs, casinos and, of course, bars where … [Continue reading]

Cinco de Mayo Tequila Primer


Want to show off your extensive knowledge of tequila to all your drinking buddies on Cinco de Mayo? As always, we're here to help. Check out the infographic below while you sit back and enjoy a glass of Extra Añejo Tequila (100% blue agave only!). … [Continue reading]