Why It Works
- Barolo Chinato adds a deep complexity to cocktails.
- Toasting a star anise pod for the garnish boosts the drink's spicy aroma.
Michael Lorberbaum created this apple brandy cocktail, which I first tried at Portland's Ava Gene's. It softens potent 100-proof apple brandy with bright lemon and Barolo Chinato, a bittersweet, herb- and spice-dosed digestivo made from one of Italy's best wines. The results are rich, fruity, and spirituous.
At Ava Gene's, they use deeply savory chinato from Mauro Vergano in this drink, and add gum arabic to the simple syrup to increase the richness of the cocktail's texture. At home, it's fine to use a regular double-strength simple syrup made with flavorful Demerara sugar.
- 1 whole star anise pod
- 1 1/2 ounces (45ml) straight apple brandy (100 proof)
- 3/4 ounce (20ml) Barolo Chinato
- 1/2 ounce (15ml) fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 ounce (15ml) strong Demerara syrup (see note)
- 3 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters
Place star anise pod in a small skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring and flipping frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
Add apple brandy, Barolo Chinato, lemon juice, strong Demerara syrup, and orange bitters to a cocktail shaker and fill 2/3 full with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Fine-strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with toasted star anise pod.
Cocktail shaker, fine strainer
To make strong Demerara syrup, combine 1/2 cup water with 1 cup Demerara sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.