This apple brandy–based variation on the classic Negroni cocktail is spicy, rich, and bittersweet. It's as simple as could be to make, but the magic is in the proportions: It's not the standard equal-parts setup.
Instead, you'll use two parts warming 100-proof apple brandy, along with one part Campari and one part sweet vermouth (I like Carpano Antica here), so that the brandy can cut the Campari's considerable sweetness. The recipe, created by Andrew Friedman of Liberty Bar in Seattle, originally appeared in Gary Regan's The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita, With Recipes & Lore. If you like Boulevardiers, this cocktail is a cold-weather essential.
To make a big batch of it, multiply each ingredient by the number of drinks you'd like to make, and add about 25% of the total volume in water. (Use filtered if you don't love the flavor of your tap water.) For example, to make eight portions of the Mela d'Alba, add 16 ounces Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, 8 ounces sweet vermouth, 8 ounces Campari, and 8 ounces water to a resealable jar or bottle. (You'll need a container that holds at least 40 ounces.) Refrigerate until ready to serve, then pour into individual ice-filled rocks glasses.
- 2 ounces (60ml) Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy (see note)
- 1 ounce (30ml) sweet vermouth
- 1 ounce (30ml) Campari
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Add apple brandy, sweet vermouth, and Campari to an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass. Stir until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Express lemon oils over drink and add lemon twist. Serve immediately.
Don't use Applejack here; you want the strong stuff, marked "bonded."