For the month of October, it’s been #thirstythursdays on the blog. I’ve been featuring a drink recipe every Thursday. So far, I’ve written about the Bitter Giuseppe, a cocktail with Cynar and sweet vermouth, the Perfect Pear, a fruity sweet-tart cocktail using pear brandy, the Martinez cocktail, a well-balanced spirit-forward cocktail with Old Tom gin, and the Kingston Club cocktail, a fruit-forward tiki drink with Drambuie, Fernet Branca, pineapple, and lime. The the final round: the Aperol Sour, a light and lovely tart drink with Aperol, gin, lemon, and some frothy egg white that’s perfect for brunch or as an aperitif.
There was a time in my life when if you told me I would be drinking a cocktail with raw egg white, I would have said you were crazy. I didn’t realize that when shaken in a cocktail shaker, egg whites get frothy and foamy like meringue and add a lovely creamy body to a drink that’s so much lighter than actual cream.
In fact, egg white drinks, like the classic Pisco Sour or Ramos Gin Fizz, are some of my favorite drinks. They often appear in bright, sour, citrusy drinks, which makes sense as a pairing if you’ve ever had lemon meringue pie.
In this drink, the main player is Aperol, an Italian amaro with notes of bitter orange, rhubarb, and loads of herbs. It’s similar to Campari, but it’s much milder on the bitter front and hence much easier to like.
If you’ve avoided amaros because you’ve found Campari to be too bracingly bitter, you might give Aperol a try. It’s about as sour and bitter as grapefruit juice with an underlying fruity sweetness.
Here it gets paired with lemon juice, an egg white, some simple syrup, and a splash of gin. It gets shaken with ice and strained into a chilled glass and garnished with a twist of grapefruit peel.
Egg white drinks often employ a technique known as a dry shake, that is, a shaking the ingredients without the ice first to add volume to the egg white and emulsify the ingredients before adding the ice and shaking again to chill and dilute the drink.
This drink skips the dry shake because it only needs a modest layer of froth at the top. It is important to shake it hard for at least a minute though to build enough body and foam in the drink.
It’s a lovely citrusy refreshing cocktail that would be a great alternative to the Mimosa for a brunch drink. It’s light and easy on the alcohol (and you could skip the gin if you wanted to make it even lower alcohol), and it would also make a great aperitif. It’s a pink and puckery cocktail that’s great to have in your arsenal.
Adapted from Bourbon and Branch at Williams-Sonoma
This drink is tart, light, and refreshing. It makes a great pre-dinner or brunch drink. Aperol is an Italian amaro that’s similar to Campari, but much milder with notes of bitter orange, rhubarb, and herbs. Use any gin you like here. I used Letherbee’s 2013 Vernal Gin, which is no longer available, but is heavy on the floral botanicals. Hendricks is a good widely available option, but a classic London Dry style gin like Beefeater would also be nice here. You could even leave the gin out entirely for an even lower alcohol drink. As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite kind of shaker is the two-piece metal kind, and I swear by a squeezer like this one for juicing lemons and limes.
2 ounces Aperol
1/2 ounce gin
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
Garnish: grapefruit peel
Fill a shaker halfway with ice. Add the Aperol, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white. Shake hard for at least a minute until chilled and lightly frothy. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and top with a twist of grapefruit peel. Serve immediately.
Yield: 1 cocktail.