5 Amaro-Based Cocktails That Aren’t an Aperol Spritz

About a week before The Great Aperol Spritz Controversy of 2019, I found myself at a local bar with some friends. It was early, we were free to pass the afternoon as we pleased, and one of us ordered an Aperol spritz. The bartender scrunched up her face, very annoyed. It was as if my friend had said: “Can I have a Papa-Roll Guh-vitz?” This was a high-volume bar, with a phalanx of bitters standing at attention behind the bar. And yet, requesting an Aperol spritz was clearly not okay. “Uh, I’ll have an Aperol and soda,” my girl mumbled. And everyone moved on.

But now I have that Baader-Meinhof thing happening, where it feels like Aperol spritz is everywhere. And judging by my instagram feed, it is everywhere.

So I figured we might as well round up some of the best amaro-based cocktails on the internet.

Here they are.

    1. Eeyore’s Requiem, a Fernet Negroni
      Toby Malone, The Violet Hour
      The Negroni, a cocktail of equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, couldn’t be easier to make. Should you present one to a Negroni virgin, however, they will conclude that you are some kind of wizard. But those of us who have consumed Negronis in great volume may hanker for something a little more demandingly vegetal from time to time. Enter this inspired recipe—created by Malone and  published in Imbibe—featuring Fernet Branca and Cynar.
    2. Minor Threat
      Evan Zimmerman, Laurelhurst Market
      Sign of a good cocktail recipe: It will include a modification if you use a gin with a different botanical profile than the one called for. Published in Kate Simon’s Absinthe Cocktails, this recipes combines our old friend Aperol with Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, absinthe, egg whites, and rose water.
    3. Pink Gin
      Classic recipe
      Keep it simple with a classic combination of 2 ounces of gin (“preferably Plymouth,” per Brad Thomas Parsons in Bitters) and four to six dashes of Angostura bitters. You just combine them over ice, stir, and get sipping.
    4. Paper Plane Cocktail
      Zach Pollack, Alimento
      What’s the first step in cooking and cocktailing? Mise en place. Here, the first step of your mise is to wake up  that Spotify app and cue M.I.A. You’ll be bopping along in no time, particulary with the aid of this boozy concoction of Amaro Nonino (my favorite), Aperol (it’s back!), bourbon (or rye nbd), and fresh lemon juice.
    5. Smoking Jacket
      Chris Amirault, Otium
      I live with a person who fell in love with mezcal during a recent trip to Mexico City. To the point where he regulary thinks you said “mezcal” when you said words that don’t sound anything like mezcal—words like “cereal,” or “Please take out the recycling.” Someday soon I am gonna whip him up one of these, with Averna amaro, mezcal, vanilla syrup, Angostura, and—what’s this?—tonka bean cream. Don’t worry, Punch will teach you how to make that, too.



10 Great Portland Places to Eat, Drink, and Buy Books

I’m planning a short visit to Portland, Oregon for a magazine story. I make detailed Google Docs for every trip we go on—short or long. It’s the best way I have found to track all the things I want to do, plus I can include Google Maps links for quick navigation. These docs also serve as a memory bank of trips past. If friends request recs, you just share the doc.

Anticipating this visit, here’s a list of 10 of my favorite Portland spots right now.


Canard: When my friends at Leave Work Now rhapsodize about a dish, it always delivers. Case in point: Canard’s steam burger. It’s a juicy slider blanketed in melty American cheese on a soft bun. It’s got that McDonald’s basic-cheeseburger magic but the setting’s way better. Sit at the counter by the window and watch Portland passersby do Portland things.

Pok Pok: Can’t go to Portland and not eat at Pok Pok. I love a long, mellow lunch and this is one of the best spots on earth to enjoy one.  There’s the funky-hot chicken wings, the juicy cocktails, the searing steak salad. We used to stay in downtown Portland hotels, but lately we’ve been trying out Airbnbs in the neighborhood between SE Division and Hawthorne. Would be lying if I said proximity to Pok Pok did not play a large part in that decision.

Tasty n Alder: People loiter on the sidewalk for hours to sample the brunch dishes. Those are great, but my favorite thing of all is the fried brussels sprouts. Also noteworthy: midday cocktails at Tasty n Alder are $8. (Drinking is dangerously good in Portland, you gotta space it out.)

Broder: Portland’s full of freelancers and people who work from home, I’m told. This goes a long way to explain the proliferation of restaurants serving weekday breakfast and brunch. Broder’s one of the best—order any of the baked egg dishes.

Tusk: First time I came here, I concluded this restaurant was mostly hype. Second time, it all came together.  The ethereal hummus, cloud-like and creamy, feels conjured from a world where the raw ingredients are simply better than ours.

Ox: Probably my favorite restaurant in Portland. Go early; reservations aren’t a thing. The perfect meal here: ribeye licked by the flames of an open fire, blackened asparagus dressed in tangy Romesco, and a bold Argentinian red.


Clyde Common: Food’s serviceable, but I say skip a meal here and come for happy hour, then order popcorn with piment d’Espelette, honey, and butter, and a barrel-aged Negroni.

Pepe Le Moko: Okay, this place is an underground bunker with a milkshake made with Crème de menthe, vanilla ice cream, and Fernet. If you’re staying at the Ace, or nearby, you’re in luck: You can start your evening at Clyde Common and end it here—perfect bookends for a Portland evening.

Whiskey Soda Lounge: Another spot from Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker. This one has tons of whiskey drinks and some epic bao. It’s also seriously chill, relaxing in a particularly Portland sort of way.


Powell’s Books: The mothership’s downtown, and I usually plan to be there about two hours. It’s massive and you want to explore the stacks leisurely. I always find books here I didn’t plan to buy but ended up loving. Examples include A Little Life and The Family Tabor. I do have some feedback around how they organize graphic novels—so few book stores get that right. But given the majesty of Powell’s, that feels like quibbling. There are also a couple of bonus Powell’s up on Hawthorne. I plan to hit up all of the above.

More stuff
Tour of our last trip to Portland on Instagram
My weekend guide to Portland in Condé Nast Traveler


The QUTD Goes to Scott Berkun

I’m reading Scott Berkun‘s book The Year Without Pants. What a writer he is. This section stopped me in my tracks.

The promise of a trend is grand, but the result never is. Rarely do the consultants championing, and profiting from, these ideas disclose how superficial the results will be unless they’re placed in a culture healthy enough to support them. No technique, no matter how good, can turn stupid coworkers into smart ones. And no method can magically make employees trust each other or their boss if they have good reason not to.

The best approach, perhaps the only approach, is an honest examination of culture. But culture is harder to understand than a meeting technique or a creativity method. And culture is scary because unlike techniques, which are all about logic, culture is based on emotion. Few people have the skills to evaluate, much less change, a culture, even if they have the courage to try. It’s far safer to simply wait for the next trend to come along and rally behind it, hoping the excitement for the new method distracts everyone from noticing how little impact the previous method had.

“Shame Is the Opposite of Art”

There’s no denying Heather Havrilesky’s searing talent—regardless of  your stance on advice columns. If said stance is “no thank you,” skip the letter in her most recent column and just read the response. Because, wow. It’s not just for people who have lost their way in life, it’s for anyone who has ever reflected on life and what it’s about even once. So, everyone except the president of the United States I guess? Cheap shot—but then I’m not Heather Havrilesky. READ THIS.

How Will Amazon’s New HQs Impact Local Dining?

How long have we been talking about where Amazon would build its new HQ? Feels like forever. Then, just like that, we knew: Long Island City, NY and Crystal City, VA (or should I say National Landing, VA?!)

In an enticing role-reversal request, Jessica Sidman—the food editor at Washingtonian, where I used to be food editor—asked to interview me for a related article. She was exploring how the Crystal City campus might change the local food scene, and wanted to use Seattle as a case study.

I’m used to being on the questioning side of interview exchanges, and with the situation flipped, I found that I talked, a lot. Couldn’t stop, in fact. So, so much talking.

Fortunately, Jess is talented at editing out the noise. Here’s her very good article.

Oh, and if you are interested in reading something about how Amazon has impacted Seattle’s dining scene, I wrote about that a while back.


Sushi is the Best Thing to Order From Food Delivery Apps

When it comes to delivery apps—your Postmates, your Caviars, your grim midweek work salads from Peach—the expression “fool me once” does not apply. Why? Because that expression ends with “shame on me.” And once we’ve decided to pay the comitant fees that come with these services, we have already moved through the shame space and out the other side. We are free, baby. We are riding in the wind. And we can’t wait to dig into some flimsy compostable containers—although, it should be said, generally we will wait, and far longer than was estimated at the beginning of this ordering odyssey.

Why do we put up with these expensive, unpredictable services? Why did I order from the same Chinese place ONE MORE TIME after opening the thrice-knotted plastic bag to discover my ma po tofu had escaped its eco-friendly box and seeped into the beef and broccoli beneath? Fact is, at this early stage in the game, these services trade on promises of deliciousness that they can’t yet deliver. We know this game. We remember when we used to marvel at Google Maps even as it directed us to an exit 100 yards after we’d sped by it. These services will evolve, iterate, weed out the weak, find the right price point, open up new markets, and, eventually, inspire someone to manufacture a compostable box that you can close, again, once you’ve opened it the first time. All this will happen—eventually.

Meantime, skip the saucier cuisines and order sushi from them. You are already spending more money than makes sense here, might as well treat yourself to something that won’t arrive ruined. Sushi is dry and carefully constructed enough to hold its form in transport. It won’t congeal or spew forth from its container. It’s relatively good for you. And you are more than welcome to eat it with your hands.

Here is Where This Blog Begins

Hello, my name is Jessica. I live in the southern section of the city of Seattle, not far from Lake Washington. I spend a lot of time thinking about, and writing about, food, tech, and travel. So that’s what I will focus on here.

My writing has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, People magazine, Food Network magazine, Washingtonian, Imbibe, Seattle Met, Portland Monthly, Indianapolis Monthly, and Sous-Vide. I also wrote for several years at ChefSteps