This month's Mixology Monday, hosted by Cocktailians, challenges us to post a tasty vermouth cocktail recipe. Vidiot says we can use any aromatic, fortified wine. So being the rebel she is, Leah created a cocktail, um, without vermouth.
Since Leah is in the midst of a three-week root canal with complications, she gets to be a beast and not follow the rules. You've got a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, I tell her. I don't argue with a woman who has a wild look in her eye, who is pacing the hallway like a panther, and who says it feels like someone is splitting her jaw open with a hacksaw. Vicoden is child's play, she tells me, downing a shot of whiskey and popping open a bottle of Brute. That's right, Brute with an "e."
We became acquainted with Ithaca Beer's Brute last week at a lovely beer-tasting dinner at Cornell hosted by Hotel School students and Ithaca Beer's brilliant master distiller, Jeff O'Neil. The Brute proved to be the life of the party: a citrusy sour ale the color of champagne, served in a flute, and paired with some biting cheese.
Okay, it's not even close to fortified wine, but Brute IS brewed with champagne yeast. And with a bouquet reminiscent of a barnyard, Brute certainly could be deemed "aromatic." One taste, and Leah decided Brute would make a great vermouth substitute.
The result? You can call it an Ithaca Negroni. I call it a Brutoni. Leah calls it a Bitchtooth: equal parts gin (we used Plymouth), Campari and Brute. The sour and bitter and gin blend together perfectly, and the cocktail has a tad of sparkle to it, not unlike a Sparkling Negroni that I saw on Rachel Ray's website a few minutes ago. It was an accident. I really don't hang out on Rachel Ray's site. Unless I need to find a good thirty minute meal. Leah says stop talking about Rachel Ray.
Not in Ithaca? You lose. Brute is a beer that goes beyond beer and into the realm of the extraordinary. Get yourself to the Ithaca Beer brewery to try some, or have a friend send you some. Either is a worthwhile endeavor.
1 ounce Plymouth gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Ithaca Beer's Brute
Stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.