April 1, 2013. I put on my temporary neck tattoo and rode my velocipede down to Powell’s bookstore the other day. Luckily, there’s designated parking throughout most of downtown Portland for velocipedes, and I took the next to last one available. Dodging through the mass of newspaper sellers, itinerant players of Trevelyan’s Rocker, and stand-ins for the cover of Shearwater’s magnificent album “Rook”, I quickly found my way up to the rare book room. I often visit this room for some peace and solitude, as all the books in this room are over $20.
While idly browsing the stacks of books, I was startled to find one pushed to the back of the shelf, as if someone had wanted to hide the book from the gaze of mere mortals. Even more startling, the cover was not affixed with multitudes of bird stickers. Though the print was barely legible, I could make out that it was a Eighteenth century book of “Divers Receipts for the Manufacture, Blending and Drinking of Chymically-Flavoured Neutral Grain Spirits at Modest Proof”. Knowing my velocipede was safely parked outside and that I had removed the seat, the large wheel, the tires and the chain to deter thieves, I settled down to peruse the curious little book.
For the longest time, I thought this and the Little Giuseppe were a jab at Giuseppe Gonzalez but Stephen Cole attributes the name to a chef friend of his with the genesis story involving, "One night an Italian chef I knew came into the bar for a drink. I thought he'd like a Cynar Manhattan."
Interesting and flavorful. While the ingredients in some cocktails blend together, some contrast, and some others are disjointed, this one is like a slideshow presentation for the palate. The flavors of the components come through in rapid serial fashion: apple brandy at the sip followed by some mildly herbal sweetness from the Benedictine, then the dry wine and wormwood of the Noilly Prat, followed by the characteristic grapefruit peel type bitterness of the Campari that carries through the finish.