Shave and a cocktail?

Shave and a cocktail?

When provocateur and advocate of all things beautiful in the world Giorgio de Maria first showed me cult producer Cappellano’s Barolo Chinato I was hooked: here was the crossover between traditional and organic vinification and aromatic spirits that I always wanted to see and taste.

Barolo Chinato is to Nebbiolo as Kina Lillet (Lillet Blanc) used to be to Sauvignon Blanc – natural wine preserved not with chemical additives but with fruit and herbs including bitter cinchona (as used in tonic water) and grappa/marc (the Italian/French terms for spirit distilled from the final pressed skin and juice remnants of winemaking). 

Quick etymology note: Cinchona is a Spanish word for a South American bark and is also used in English. The pronunciation is widely disputed throughout history. Quinic Acid is the acid obtained from the bark. Quinine is the alkaloidal medicinal extract of the bark used to flavour tonic water and the related traditional drinks called in French: Kina, Quinquina, and Quina; and in Italian: China and Chinato.

The Cappellano Barolo Chinato is sublimely aromatic and refreshing, and at 18% abv it’s easy to enjoy a good couple of quaffs. I prefer a large serve over ice as a strong aperitif or a gentle digestive. 

However Giorgio recently challenged me to make a mixed drink with it, so I came up with this for the popup at Monks & Co and I’m delighted to add this to my repertoire as it’s about to go onto high rotation.

Starting with a slug of the Barolo Chinato, I doubled down on the essence of the Nebbiolo –rich powerful red wine – by fortifying and drying the middle-palate of the Barolo Chinato further with Romano Levi Grappa di Barolo. This introduced depth through oak spice and tannins, and raised the level of alcohol, and the stakes in the game. Next, working with a rich and spicy wine-driven base, I added a splash of Marionette Dry Cassis, which added bright fruit aromatics and acidity. A drop of Argalà Pastis was the right counterpoint to the fruit and spice added thus far, introducing a high concentration of anise and herb and woody aromatics. This great pastis is very versatile, here adding another dimension to the drink and elevating this from being a spiced wine drink to being a true cocktail.

Tip: the Cassis works with the Chinato because blackcurrants bring a lot of citric acid, freshening without requiring citrus juice. Blackcurrants also contain quinic acid and thus create harmony with the Chinato. So while the flavour is different, they go well together - like a denim jacket over jeans.

From the list of drinks I made for the event I was most excited by Generous, but I’ll be drinking more of these:

Gigi La Trottola

60ml Cappellano Barolo Chinato

15ml Romano Levi Grappa di Barolo

10ml Marionette Dry Cassis

1 drop of Argalà Pastis

Build over lots of ice and freshen with a small piece of lemon peel and enjoy frequently for feels like this: