The Man About Town, does Rum measure up in the Negroni?

The Negroni is the gateway drink into appreciating more complex flavors.  This lies partly in its foolproof construction. Follow a simple formula of three equal parts and you’ll be rewarded with a predictably delicious result.

The Negroni is equal parts Gin, Sweet Vermouth and Campari. The Boulevardier is a common variation replacing gin with Bourbon, or Rye.

While Negroni actually doesn’t find its way into print until two decades after the Boulevardier it has certainly won the game of popularity.

Lastly, there is the variant that is so uncommon, there is not a great consensus on what it is called. The Rum Negroni, or The Man About Town.

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Negroni, Boulevardier, Man About Town…

Rhum is a delicious addition to the classic formula, especially if it is an Agricole style. The grassy freshness stands up to the resonating spice and bitterness of the vermouth and Campari. If you are unable to source an agricole rhum for the recipe then use a rum that is not overly sweet.

The Classic Recipe:

1 part Rhum Agricole for a Man About Town, Gin for a Negroni, Bourbon for a Boulevardier
1 part Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 part Campari

Combine in a stirring vessel. Add ice, stir until well chilled and serve neat or on the rocks to personal taste. Express orange oil over the top. Garnish with the orange peel. Simple.

A simple yet expert variation

This is where I took a ‘can’t miss’ cocktail recipe and experimented. It was some months in the making, but a fun project.

The path to a barrel aged Rum Negroni started in New Orleans. While there for Tales of the Cocktail I received a bottle of Donner Peltier Rougaroux “Sugarshine” 101 proof sugar cane rum. One taste and I knew I’d found my muse. Bold, spicy and herbaceous – it sits in a rare class for white rums.

In fact, it won Double Gold at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold at the 2013 World Spirits Awards.

I let the rum steep in mason jars filled with fresh BC Rainier Cherries, no sugar added. I conditioned a char #4 barrel with the Louisiana rum, to keep the wood from drying out. The cherries gave their tannins and a wonderful bouquet, but very little sweetness. Perfect for the purpose at hand. At the end of four months in the cherry filled mason jars, the rum was ready for the next stage.

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BC Rainier Cherry Infusion

Into the Rougaroux Rum conditioned barrel for four weeks:

Equal parts:
BC Rainier Cherry Infused Rougaroux “Sugarshine” Rum
Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
Carpari Bitter

In stirring vessel, pour in 2 parts of mixture, add ice and stir until well chilled. Express orange oil over top and garnish with rum soaked cherry.

The mixture in the barrel tasted great after a week.

On week two, I worried that I may have left it in too long. I pressed on.

Week three the cocktail took on an intriguing mix of delicate softness and lingering spice.

On the fourth week I took it out of the barrel. It is a beautifully nuanced cocktail. Lively, spicy rum with faint wisps of fresh cherry up front, orange and cardamom spices engage the middle of the palate. The bark and sweetness of the Campari linger on the savory finish. And best of all, I have the perfect garnish in the form of the cherries that have been there from the start. For added fun, rinse your chilled coupe with absinthe.

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Sure, five months was worth the wait. I had other drinks in the meantime.

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