The Venetian cocktail is Drink of the Day for February 12 because it’s National Biscotti Day. Strangely, there are two National Biscotti Days, the second arriving in September. But that’s hardly a surprise, because everyone loves a delicious biscotti.
It doesn’t matter whether you consider it a bread, a biscuit or a cookie, a biscotti is still a slab of crunchy goodness. But to fully enjoy this National Day you’ll need more than a cookie. You’ll also need a drink, and that’s where the Venetian cocktail comes in.
We’re not going to tell you how to make biscotti here. We’re imbibers, not bakers. If you’re so inclined you’re on your own, but there are plenty of recipes out there and it seems every grocery has them ready to go.
Biscotti are little Italian almond delights that originated in the Tuscan city of Prato. Back when medieval Latin was the lingua franca there they had the word biscotus, meaning twice-cooked. Baking something twice was useful then as the subject matter would become very dry, making it useful for long storage or carrying away to eat when at war. The word biscotto is the singular noun that survived into modern Italian and biscotti is the plural.
Of course, they have another word for them as well: cantucci. That’s the plural of cantuccio which means “little place” or “corner” but in the past was used to describe a little piece of bread with a lot of crust.
The original recipe is uses only flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds. No yeast, no butter, no oil, no milk. It was a barely wet dough that cooked twice. Once as a sort of slab, like a flat loaf of bread, and a second time after being sliced. That’s how they get dry and crispy. Naturally, there are all sorts of varieties out there now. Whether chocolate dipped, with other nuts like pistachio added, or spices like cinnamon or anise, it’s all out there now.
Being dry, biscotti take naturally to being dipped. In Italy that’s usually for dessert with a fortified dessert wine called vin santo. Elsewhere they’re more commonly consumed with coffee and here at The Drunkard’s Almanac we’re all for that use. After all, what can be better than cookies for breakfast? Especially if you’re staring into a cup of coffee one morning trying to remember what happened the night before.
If you don’t have any biscotti for National Biscotti Day you can rely solely on the drink, but we advise picking up a few.
The Venetian Cocktail
Our Editorial Board focused immediately on drinks containing Amaretto in order to pay honor to biscotti. After all, almond is the prominent flavor in each. The Amaretto Sour obviously comes to mind, but we mixed that for National Amaretto Day. We also used just a tad in the White Elephant cocktail for National Fruitcake Day.
The Venetian cocktail is from the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco, a restaurant that opened in 1998 and was on the leading edge of the cocktail renaissance there. The inventor is not clear, but two of their former bartenders, Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz published in their book, The Art of the Bar.
The Venetian cocktail reminds us of other drinks we think of as modified martinis, like the Tuxedo or Monkey Business cocktails. It’s also a small leap from a Negroni made with dry rather than sweet vermouth and a single additional modifier in the Amaretto.
- Add all ingredients to your trusty mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir to chill.
- Strain into pre-chilled Nick & Nora glass.
- Express twist over drink and garnish.
- Eat biscotti.