I often wonder if Martha Stewart gets emergency cleaning texts from her friends: “Martha! I have mustard on my shirt! What do I do?” Or if Alton Brown gets random cooking science phone calls from his sister-in-law, “I mixed milk in vinegar, what’s that reaction called?”
I am no Martha or Alton, but I do get emergency cocktail questions from my friends. “Julie! Where can I get *insert obscure liqueur here*?” “Julie! OMG I just had the best cocktail at *insert cocktail bar here*. How can I make it?”
My favorite recently: “My friend and I want to make Brooklyn cocktails. Where the heck do you get Amer Picon?”
I take these sorts of things as a challenge.
It took me a few months, but I did the research. Amer Picon is a bitter (I knew that going in), essentially France’s answer to Amaro. Unfortunately, it’s not available anywhere in the US– at least that I could find. With a little searching, I discovered that the Torani company in California (yes, they make the syrups you get at coffee shops) makes a version, and it’s as close to the original as you can get: 78 proof, full of gentian and orange and other ingredients said to prevent malaria in sailors (Amer Picon’s original purpose). It is still pretty difficult to get: unavailable at the Party Source. Unavailable in the state of Massachusetts (where my friend lives). You can, however, order it from BevMo or Liquorama. It’s not a super-expensive liqueur, but it’s so important for the Brooklyn Cocktail.
If you are familiar with the Manhattan, the Brooklyn will seem familiar, too. The base is rye and instead of sweet vermouth, you use dry. Throw in a couple of teaspoons of Torani Amer and Luxardo Maraschino, and garnish with a cherry. It’s much less sweet than a Manhattan, a little spicier and a little more complex. It’s darn tasty and, since I now have the ingredients, will go into my cocktail rotation.
You will find that the shipping on a bottle of Amer is about the cost of the liqueur, but it’s worth it– it’s great in the Liberal cocktail, Picon Punch, or the Picon Curacao Highball.
2 oz rye (I used Russell’s 6 year)
3/4 oz dry vermouth (Dolin)
2 teaspoons Luxardo Marsachino Liqueur
2 teaspoons Amer Picon (or Torani Amer)
Assemble in a mixing glass over ice. Stir until chilled, serve in a cocktail glass with a cocktail cherry (I use Filthy Black Cherries).