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Swap Your Angostura Bitters for Amaro With This Lightly Bittered Gin Sour
A slight variation on the Fitzgerald, using Cynar. (Plus! A story about a dog.)
In last week’s newsletter, we took a basic gin sour and added a few dashes of Angostura Aromatic bitters. Doing so instantly creates a new and entirely different drink, which the creator, Dale DeGroff, dubbed the Fitzgerald. It’s a simple modification that takes a three-ingredient standard and gives it just a little bit more complexity.
The Fitzgerald relies on dasher-bottle bitters, the kind you typically pour in drops or dashes rather than ounces, and which typically aren’t meant to be consumed on their own. These are sometimes known as “non-potable bitters.”
But as it turns out, you can substitute a bitter liqueur — a “potable bitter” — in the same drink structure and get a new and delicious drink.
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This gives you a slightly more earthy, herbal drink, and also a slightly milder one, since Cynar is bittersweet and adds just a hint of sweetness to the mix.
Cynar isn’t the only option here. Almost any bottle of bitter liqueur — from Campari to Amaro Braulio to Averna and everything in between — will work.
If you want something more aggressive, try swapping in a bit of the difficult yet fascinating Fernet-Branca, which gives the cocktail a bitter, menthol-y jab.
For my part, I’m sticking with Cynar.
Sure, it’s not a big variation. But the original drink was just a slight variation on a gin sour. This is, well, just a slight variation on that variation.
It’s new enough that it counts as a new drink, which means it needs a new name.
One of the many reasons I enjoy the Fitzgerald cocktail is because the name carries some personal resonance.
As longtime readers know, my previous dog was named Fitzgerald.
Like my current large dogs, he was a bullmastiff — an oversized goofball who loved grilled chicken, eating grass, occupying couches, and generally being the center of attention.
Fitzgerald was still around when I launched this newsletter. He was my drinking buddy during the depths of the pandemic, and he hung out with me on a lot of nights when I was making early versions of recipes that would eventually be featured here.
Fitzgerald wasn’t quite my first bullmastiff, however.
His predecessor was another big guy from the same line. The predecessor was a more serious dog in some ways, but also a pretty funny dog once you got to know him. He wasn’t my dog, exactly, but he was in the family. For many years he spent a lot of time at my house. So we got to know each other pretty well.
In theory, when he would come over, he would be in my care. But I often felt like I was in his. He wasn’t just protective, he was managerial, exuding an air of decisive competence, at least when he wasn’t running in terror from an unpleasant noise.
He was a good dog, and a good friend.
His name was Bartleby. He was Fitzgerald’s uncle. And since this drink is a close relative of the Fitzgerald, I’ll call this cocktail…
1/4 ounce Cynar
3/4 ounce rich (2:1) simple syrup*
1 ounce fresh squeezed, fine-strained lemon juice
2 ounces dry gin, such as Tanqueray or Beefeater
Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
Add ice, then shake until thoroughly chilled, about 10-12 seconds.
Strain into a coupe or stemmed cocktail glass. No garnish.
*Rich 2:1 simple syrup: Combine two parts sugar with one part water (by weight, so for example, 400 grams sugar and 200 grams water) in a blender. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Bottle and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for at least a month.
Very Large Dogs Who Are No Longer With Us
Bartleby on the left, Fitzgerald on the right. They were good boys.