I had hoped to publish the post for this celebratory cocktail before today. But we’ve been on the road, and the historic lodge we stayed at for the last two nights had an equally historic internet connection. (I had to spend the days hiking, jumping in rivers, and learning to play Cribbage – it was awful.) It’s now the evening of the Fourth of July and Jay and I are in Ashland, Oregon, safely ensconced at a hostel with blissfully consistent wi-fi. Jay is part of a group that performs traditional English music and dance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (think men waving hankies and hitting each other with sticks — manly!) and I get to tag along and see some theatre (which I like to pronounce with a snooty British accent in my head).
Before we left, we made (and drank) way too many of these cocktails (which may or may not be why I failed to complete this post before we left for our trip). In any case, this drink is about as patriotic as it gets around here: an old-school Italian aperitif with the word “Americano” in the name and, for reasons unbeknownst to me, a red-and-white-striped rooster on the label.
Regardless, Cocchi Americano is delicious on its own as an aperitif, but it also mixes with St. Germain, prosecco, lemon, and saffron-cardamom tincture to create my cocktail soul mate (or as Domestic Partners Gaby and Aida call it, my spirit cocktail). The drink hails from Third Rail, a fabulous bar in the Dogpatch district of San Francisco that serves up seasonal cocktails (such as these) and housemade jerky. I knew I would love the One for the Money based on the ingredient list alone; floral, effervescent, and delicately spiced, it was love at first sip.
Cocchi Americano was a new ingredient to me and one that I now adore. It tastes a bit like the rough-and-tumble cousin of dainty Lillet. In fact, according to Serious Eats, Cocchi tastes the way Lillet Kina used to back when it included quinine in its ingredient list. In the last few years it has been embraced by mixologists for its ability to stand up to cocktails that were originally formulated for Lillet Kina.
Like Lillet, Cocchi Americano is a wine-based spirit flavored with a secret combination of aromatics. Cocchi includes quinine (a.k.a. cinchona), citrus, and elderflower. While Lillet is soft and delicate, Cocchi has a more pronounced bite that smacks of grapefruit rind’s bitter edge mixed with honey and flowers. Over ice with a twist of lemon and a blast of fizzy water, it reminds me of my other favorite aperitif: the Martini Blanc.
The mixology masters at Third Rail stir Cocchi into this heavenly beverage flavored with floral St. Germain, tart lemon, fizzy prosecco, and a whiff of saffron and cardamom. The result is a cocktail that is softly alcoholic, not too sweet, and highly quaffable.
After sipping one alongside some housemade jerky, I could think of little else. I looked up Third Rail’s online menu to remind myself of the ingredients and try to concoct something similar at home, but to my distress, One for the Money was Gone for the Money. Distraught, I sent an email asking if they might be persuaded to divulge the recipe since it was no longer on the menu. They responded not only by giving me the recipe, but also by assuring me that the drink was still very much on the menu, it just hadn’t been updated on their website.
I tweaked the tincture recipe a bit since Third Rail’s made an entire liter and as much as I like these drinks, I can’t see myself going through that much tincture anytime soon – at least not if I want to remain a functional adult. The bitters – simply high-proof alcohol steeped with crushed cardamom pods and a hefty pinch of saffron – add incredible flavor and aroma to the drink, as well as a pretty, golden hue. I like to garnish the drinks with a bit of grapefruit peel to accentuate those notes in the Cocchi, but orange or lemon work well, too.
Many thanks to Third Rail for conjuring up my spirit cocktail and allowing me to share it here. If you happen down to the Dogpatch for a libation and some jerky (the Cowboy is our favorite), I heartily recommend heading over to Piccino for a spectacular seasonal supper, and The Lab for a delectable dessert (or five).
One year ago:
Two years ago:
Three years ago:
Four years ago:
One for the Money Cocktail
Adapted with permission from Third Rail
Be sure to give yourself at least a day to make the tincture before you plan to serve these. I’ve found that this makes an excellent cocktail party drink as you can mix everything but the prosecco ahead of time to taste, store it in the fridge for a few hours, then pour it into ice-filled glasses and top each with prosecco and a grapefruit twist to order.
If you’re not ready to commit to opening a whole bottle of prosecco to top off these drinks, Presto makes some small bottles that are just right for 2 or 3 of these drinks (I found them at Whole Foods near the fancy cheeses). Otherwise, you can top these off with sparkling water instead.
Cardamom Saffron Tincture:
1 T green cardamom pods, cracked
1 large pinch saffron threads (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 cup Everclear (or other high-proof clear alcohol)
Combine the cardamom pods, saffron, and Everclear in a small jar and let sit for at least 24 hours and preferably 3-5 days. Strain. Pour into a bottle with a dropper. The tincture should keep indefinitely.
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cocchi Americano
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh, strained lemon juice
Combine the Cocchi, St. Germain and lemon in a glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir for a few seconds to combine and chill it down, then strain into a tumbler filled with ice (it should fill the glass about two-thirds of the way). Add about 10 drops of tincture (more or less depending on how much spice you want) and top with prosecco and a twist of grapefruit peel. Stir again and enjoy.