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.

Food

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.

Drink

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.

Books

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