Today we introduce the Scorched Earth cocktail as part of Negroni Week. We’re nearing the end of Negroni Week and it’s time for Mr. Potato Head to continue his cocktail tutorial and introduce eager readers to yet another delicious variation.
Negroni Week Choices
As the astute reader will note, the week began with the classic Negroni and from there progressed first into one-ingredient substitutions (the Boulevardier and the Kingston Negroni) and then to two-ingredient swap-outs (the White Negroni and the Old Pal). Today we’re going to stick with another two-swap, keeping only the Campari, before concluding tomorrow with a favorite that shares no ingredients whatsoever with the original. But onward.
What is appropriate today? There are always many possibilities and as you know we often look toward historic events, a notable birthday or a death to narrow down the selection. Today was easy and your faithful correspondent hereby declares the Scorched Earth cocktail as Drink of the Day.
It’s the anniversary of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing one year ago today. That event certainly created some patches of scorched earth in the political maelstrom that followed. Let’s face it: it was a melee.
Campari also fits, as we know Notorious RBG was a big opera fan. What is less known is that her drink of choice at Kennedy Center openings was Campari and soda. Actual Negroni drinking, if it occurred, was likely in chambers and remains undocumented. Her former clerks will neither confirm nor deny.
The Scorched Earth
But now back to booze for today. The Scorched Earth was originally invented by Nick Hearin, the bar manager at the now-closed Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. It was a daring variation on the Negroni, swapping out brandy for the gin and Cynar for the vermouth. You may recall we invoked the memory of the late Gary “Gaz” Regan when covering the classic Negroni due to his well-known propensity for stirring them with his finger, and Gaz indeed brought attention to the Scorched Earth in a 2007 article in the SF Gate.
It was a nice start, and the original recipe is widely published. But Mr. Potato Head is tireless and today we will describe what is really a variation on a Negroni variation as we adopt a mezcal-based version as described on the website Tuxedo No. 2. It seems appropriate for the Scorched Earth given that to make mezcal the agave hearts, the pinas, are roasted in an earth pit. Scorched earth, right there.
So onward to mixing. As usual, ordinary household supplies, but we do provide one additional, less commonly found option for the more adventurous. That said, we do recommend stocking Cynar as it’s used in any number of cocktails, including the Little Italy.
- 1 oz Mezcal
- 1 oz Cynar If you feel like it, you can instead use an ounce of Zucca. That, however, is a bit more obscure rhubarb-flavored Amaro and a failure to have it at home will not relegate you to the Hall of Shame.
- 1 oz Campari
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Garnish: orange twist
- Combine all liquid ingredients with ice in your trusty mixing glass and stir
- Strain over a single, large cube in an Old Fashioned glass
- Flame the orange peel over the drink and proceed to garnish. For reference and instructions, refer to June 7, Dean Martin’s birthday and the Flame of Love cocktail or April 3 and the Hoskins cocktail.