Mikhael von Brasch, French despite the German-sounding name, is the mixologist at Tott's at The Excelsior and a traditionalist at heart.
This is reflected in the new Bartender's Selection cocktail list, which features a number of twists on classic cocktails, including the gangsta - von Brasch's finely tuned variation on the negroni.
"I called it gangsta because although the negroni is an Italian cocktail; it is associated with the Prohibition era. I can imagine Al Capone drinking it," he says.
Subtle touches give it a complexity lacking in other negroni recipes. The ice is washed with absinthe, and a twist of orange peel is rubbed not merely around the rim of the glass, but also round the sides of it so that the oils are picked up on the fingers, intensifying the aroma.
"I chose Bombay Sapphire over Tanqueray or Gordon's gin because I want the spiciness of the pepper in the Bombay Sapphire botanicals," von Brasch says. "And I use Dolin vermouth because it is more complex in flavour than Cinzano or Martini Rosso; Aperol over Campari because I'm already using one bitters and I don't want too much bitterness. I want the orange flavours to emerge, and the chocolate, although there is only one dash of chocolate bitters. The absinthe is just for my ice cubes, but it's high in alcohol at 60 per cent ABV and brings freshness." It is better to sip directly from the glass rather than use a straw to get the benefit of the aromatics. It's a satisfyingly complex cocktail.
30ml Bombay Sapphire gin
15ml Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Rouge (sweet)
15ml Fleur de Figue liqueur
1 dash of Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters
Enough Lucid absinthe to wash the ice in the glass
1 twist orange peel
1 segment of orange
- Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour in the absinthe.
- Mix the gin, vermouth, Aperol, Fleur de Figue and bitters in a shaker.
- Remove the absinthe, and strain the mixture into the chilled glass over the washed ice.
- Rub the rim and sides of the glass with the orange twist. Garnish with the twist and orange segment.