The Hard Stuff: Cocktail balance

By LUKE O'NEIL  |  February 4, 2013

I asked Manny Gonzales of Foundry on Elm and Saloon to offer up an "I'm not sure if I like this cocktail" cocktail as well. His Black Canary is sort of a riff on an Aviation and a Hanky Panky, he says. It's made with two ounces of Gilbert's "cheap, cheap, cheap" gin, one-half ounce of Luxardo Fernet, one-half ounce of Curacao, one-quarter ounce of Luxardo Slivovitz, Bittermens Boston Bittahs, and a Kalamata olive. He put it in a barrel for a month and added ice and lemon oil to make it softer and more aromatic. "Doing it straight would be pretty harsh," he admits. "It's one of those things where it's like, 'Oh, this is a real drink. But do I want to finish it?' " He would, he says, because he likes harsh spirits. "Most people would probably approach that, like, 'I can't believe I'm drinking this.' "

You'll want to leave many of these drinks for the end of the night to avoid blowing out your drinking or dining palate, Homans says. "It's more like an indulgence, something you want to save for last and let yourself ruminate on afterwards." Thinking, perhaps, "What the hell did I just drink?" And maybe, "Where are my pants?"

In contrast to potable bitters, like Italian amari, non-potable bitters are so strongly flavored that they're considered additives that you'd only use a few drops at a time — though clearly some bold bartenders beg to differ.

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