For the purist, a negroni is a cocktail made from equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. We don’t exactly count ourselves in that category, but we’ve been known to wade into arguments about what a thing is (and isn’t). For instance, a martini: gin plus vermouth, shaken or stirred, strained, and served up, preferably with an olive or two. Plus a dash of orange bitters, for history’s sake, or a little olive brine if you like it dirty. Never mind what it isn’t.
Like many a cocktail, the negroni was devised by a bartender—an Italian mixing drinks in beautiful Florence, according to the lore. The classic recipe might be perfect, but lately we’ve sampled some interesting variations. At Vara Winery & Distillery, where their craft distiller’s license prevents them from selling Campari, they make a very nice white negroni using their High Desert gin, Vermut Seco and Vermut Dulce, house-made orange liqueur, and a dash of bitters. At Paloma, the Negroni Oaxaca substitutes Vida Mezcal for gin, resulting in a drink that you could easily mistake for a classic negroni if your olfactory receptors weren’t immersed in the rich smokiness of the mescal. At Happy Accidents, a newish cocktail bar in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill where part of the ceiling is paved with plastic green grass, they use bitter orange liqueur instead of Campari, making for a flavor profile that is even more bitter. Is it a negroni? We’re not sure, but it’s a cocktail you’ll enjoy if you’re drawn to sharp, intense, orange, and the lively mouthfeel of the most undersung of the five modalities of taste. We loved it.
On the home front, we decided to go back to the basics—sort of. Negroni aficionados often call for a navy strength or dry London style, but we went with Dry Point Distiller’s Monsoon Gin, thinking the licorice notes would meld well with the bitter Campari. And they did, creating a slightly sweeter drink than any of the above.
What’s your best riff on the negroni? Or your favorite alternative to another classic cocktail?
Soup for breakfast? And on a summer day like today? But yes. The Morning Soup at Dolina Cafe & Bakery is built with a light lamb bone broth and just the right amount of wild rice, with thinly sliced caramelized onions lending a shade of sweet. If you need confirmation that this delectable dish is fitting for your day’s first meal, look to the perfectly poached egg floating near the soup’s surface.
Pop-Ups & Festivals
Theater has struggled in the COVID era, so we are happy to report that Duke City Repertory Theatre and Tricklock Company have partnered with Farm & Table for another season of Theater on the Farm. The play does not include dinner but with the proper planning, dinner can be had prior to the performance, a hybrid work whose title includes the timely phrase “how to people again.”
We’ve heard wonderful things about the uttapam at Aruna Cafe in Santa Fe, created by a veteran of Paper Dosa. Chef Dhiru’s first pop-up was two years ago at the Folk Art Market; Aruna is now using a takeout model. Order by Wednesday for Friday’s dinner.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is hosting a series of Intimate Indigenous Experiences—dinners with art and performance whose proceeds support scholarships for Pueblo members. For the first dinner on August 21, executive chef Ray Naranjo will be joined by Benjamin Shendo of Jemez and Cochiti Pueblos.
Looking for vegan food trucks on a Saturday night? Plant Powered Events hosts their next Plant Powered Pop Up Market at the ABQ Collective on August 21.
Picking season is not over yet! In September, you can join the vintners at Vivac Winery for a picking party (followed by a four-course wine lunch and a tour of the winery).
Speaking of wine: the Santa Fe Wine Festival is happening right now. August 14 and 15, 12–6 pm, Las Golondrinas. If you’re learning this too late, worry not; you can still make it to the Harvest Wine Festival September 4 and 5 in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.
Even within city limits, especially in late August after a monsoon season, an abundance of wild foods surrounds us. On August 21, Dryland Wilds leads a walk in Albuquerque to teach participants to identify some invasive and common plants that can be used for food, tea, and skin care.
Abundance comes part and parcel with stewardship, and the next Bosque Restoration Field Day, hosted by the Yerba Mansa Project, Albuquerque Herbalism, and the City of Albuquerque Open Space, takes place September 18. And in case you missed it, Yerba Mansa Project founder and executive director Dara Saville talks about her new book on Southwestern botanical medicine in this archived talk from the Corrales Public library this past spring.
Edible New Mexico just announced the finalists for this year’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. Attend in person on September 11 to cast your votes for The Skillet, High Point Grill, Tuerta, Street Food Institute, Fork & Fig, Pajarito Brewpub and Grill, Luminaria Restaurant and Patio, or Turtle Mountain Brewing Company.
Thanks for reading—and thank you to the people who have been mixing and serving our negronis and other delicious things.
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