The Santa Rosa Cocktail!

To celebrate the weekend and the return of Madmen this Sunday, I would like to share my boyfriend Will’s most recent cocktail creation: The Santa Rosa.

The back story:

We watched Madmen as a marathon last winter, having only discovered it when my mother introduced me to it on a family trip.  For a month, we did nothing else but watch Madmen.  We were intrigued by Don’s usual drink: the Old Fashioned, and also by Betty Draper’s Gimlet and the martinis that the Fat Cats on the show have during their decadent three-martini lunches.  Also, the casseroles, but we quickly discovered that casseroles contain a lot of cheese and let that phase go by without too much hubbub.  The cocktail obsession, however, stuck with us, and Will started rapidly acquiring the sundry liquors, elixers and various bitters needed to try anything and everything, with an emphasis on the cocktails from the days of yore.

Will quickly tired of other people’s recipes and started to experiment in mixology, sometimes with disastrous results.  The Santa Rosa is his first cocktail creation that’s ready for prime time (though he also has come up with his own interesting twists on some of the classics!).

Shake or stir the following and serve on ice in an old-fashioned glass.  The garnish of a sprig of cilantro adds a wonderful complexity and tingles your taste buds.

  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/8 oz Benedictine
  • 1/8 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters if you have the large bottle, 2 dashes if dealing with the small bottle

The 1/8 oz is pretty hard to measure–most recipes would just call it “one dash” to avoid stressing you out. Don’t sweat it if your measure is a little off.

How Will created it:

The Santa Rosa began as a way to get rid of some quickly aging but still good grapefruit.  Bourbon was a natural choice for the liquor pairing because they both have such strong favors.  He considered adding simple syrup to sweeten it (grapefruit is very sour), but dismissed this option as obvious and boring.

Instead he added a little Benedictine–a very strong, complex liqueur. The drink tasted better, but still a little sour and astringent.  Will added Angostura bitters, comme il faut (because that’s what you do). He added grenadine, and the drink was no longer sour, and had a lovely red color.  But still there lingered the astringent bourbon finish!

He thought long and hard about what would make it smoother, and decided that sweet vermouth would be good for that.  He added a little bit, and liked the result… a lot!

Note:  In a pinch, Drambuie could be substituted for Benedictine.  They cost about the same (about $30 a bottle), but Benedictine is hard to find.
Also note:  Many of these ingredients–in fact all of these ingredients, will be consumed at a very slow pace.  You may balk at the initial investment, but we find we get a lot of joy in sharing our varied cocktail menu with guests (and our taste buds!) and you may too.

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