We’re going to mix the Rosita cocktail on September 28 in honor of International Rabies Day. That’s important to drinkers, but not because we froth at the mouth when we see a cocktail. Bats, you see, can be vectors of the disease so any day intended to raise awareness of rabies makes our Editorial Board think of bats. Naturally, that leads to considering the role bats play in bringing us tequila and mezcal. So stay with us here and it’ll become clear why the Rosita cocktail is Drink of the Day.
You know rabies is nasty stuff. The name itself comes from the Latin rabies, or “madness.” It’s a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in people and other warm blooded animals. It’s almost always fatal and the reason we all bawled our eyes out at the end of Old Yeller. Rabies is most often noticed in dogs, cats, foxes, raccoons, skunks, livestock, coyotes and bats.
Rabies is transmitted through bites as the virus is present in saliva. From a bite it slowly makes its way up neurons from the bite to the central nervous system where it gets into all kinds of mischief. Vaccines aren’t required for humans other than those doing things like handling bats for a living, but vaccines are pretty much required for pet dogs and cats. Our crack research team was unable to identify any anti-vax literature shared among household pets, so the number of vaccine holdouts is low.
It might be worth vaccinating your pet raccoons and coyotes, but the Raborol vaccine for them isn’t sold at your pet store. It’s only sold to government agencies conducting rabies control programs, so you probably need to write your congressman. Unfortunately, there’s no commercially available vaccine for your pet bats so don’t let them bite you.
Most bats in the Americas are vegetarian or eat insects. But they do more than that. Agaves are chiropterophilous, which is a fancypants way of saying they’re pollinated by bats.
Bats are critical to the propagation of agaves, and agaves are the foundation of tequila and mezcal. Agave plants open up their flowers at night to entertain nocturnal aviators. Thats when bats get nectar to fuel their migrations, and everybody’s happy. This makes us big fans of bats.
The Rosita Cocktail
So we’ve seen that bats are involved in rabies, that bats are essential to agave, and that agave is the foundation of tequila and mezcal. Therefore, the Drink of the Day must be agave-based. That’s why today it’s the Rosita, or “little rose” in English. The Rosita recipe is even a bit red, conjuring images of blood even though vampire bats and Transylvanian Counts are not part of our story today.
The Rosita drink has scant history, but in Meehan’s Bartending Manual he traces it back to Greg Boehm’s 1974 edition of Mr. Boston: Official Bartender’s Guide. Its formula is suspiciously similar to various Negroni variations, basically splitting the vermouth portion and adding bitters.
The recipe seems to have evolved over time. Originally it used equal measures of tequila and Campari along with a split measure of sweet and dry vermouth. We believe the version presented by Mr. Meehan to be better balanced, and we’ll do it just as he does: up and with an orange twist. Do note, however, that it is entirely acceptable to serve the Rosita on the rocks, preferably a single large cube.
- 1½ oz Tequila Use a Reposada, or aged tequila here.
- ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
- ½ oz Dry vermouth
- ½ oz Campari
- Garnish: orange twist
- Add tequila, both vermouths and Campari to your trusty mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir to chill.
- Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
- Express twist over drink, add to glass.
This cocktail actually tempers my madness. Go figure!