Monday, April 7, 2014

Artichoke Negroni

If you've been a reader of Gastronomista for a while, you probably know that I love the Negroni.  It's a modern classic and it has everything I'm looking for in a cocktail: sweet, bitter, and strong, and then there is its seductive red hue.... 

Sometimes, a girl must build on the classics.  Some people argue that a Negroni requires Campari, but I believe that a Negroni is a drink with 3 parts: one bitter, one strong, and one fortified wine.  The ratios can be modified, but these three elements must be apparent in the cocktail and must be balanced to make the cocktail more than its sum of parts.

This spring I've been inspired by complex Amaros and all the gorgeous produce that has started to show up at the market.  I found these gorgeous little artichokes, and I thought that they would be not only fantastic garnishes, but a delicious addition to a cocktail.  The Italian bitter Cynar (CHEE-nar) is made predominantly from artichokes, but doesn't really taste like artichokes.  Naturally, I wanted to make my own artichoke infusion.

But here's the problem, all of the vegetal infusions I've done have turned out disgustingly bitter.  I've read into it a bit, and it can be blamed on oxidization.  Bah!

I recently received a Sous Vide Supreme, which is opening my mind and inspiring me in more ways than any appliance has ever inspired a lady!  I became interested in a Sous Vide after this summer's Tales of the Cocktail, where I was introduced to the method of Sous Vide for making "barrel aged" cocktails.  Instead of leaving the cocktail to age in a barrel for 6 months, the Sous Vide rapidly ages the cocktail and also eliminates any extra oxygen from the process.  Barrel aged cocktails that use vermouth should be aged in a Sous Vide instead of a barrel because the nature of the barrel aging process causes the vermouth to oxidize, thus making the cocktail extra bitter and slightly "off" tasting.  I figured the method could be used for vegetable infusions as well.  

Experiments in the Sous Vide
Baby Artichokes & Gin
Those sweet perfect baby artichokes got chopped up, and put in a vacuum bag with some gin, and I put it in the sous vide for 1 hour at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  The result was a gorgeous bright green artichoke gin, that tasted perfectly of fresh artichokes and juniper!  Brilliant!

Artichoke Gin!
Naturally, I wanted to pair it up with Cynar, doubling down on the artichoke.  When I pulled out the bottle, the handsome man in my life correctly told me "you've set yourself up for a Negroni".  Two spirits with artichoke flavor is a lot of bitterness, so I used Cocchi Bianco vermouth to add more sweetness.

Dear readers, behold: The Artichoke Negroni.

The Artichoke Negroni benefits from the trifecta of sweet, bitter, and strong, and a squeeze of grapefruit peel does a magnificent job of brightening up the vegetal flavors.  I garnished it with a quarter of a baby purple artichoke and a grapefruit peel flower, skewered together and rested on the surface of the cocktail.

I hope you enjoy this cocktail as much as I do.

Artichoke Gin

3 Mini Artichokes, Halved
2 c. Gin

Seal in a vacuum pouch and submerge in the Sous Vide for 1 hour at 140 degrees Ferenheit.

Equipment: Sous Vide Supreme, vacuum sealer, & vacuum pouches.

Pro Tip: Use the seal function only, do not use the vacuum function when preparing liquids. 

Artichoke Negroni
Created by Gastronomista 

1.5 oz Artichoke Gin
1.5 oz Cocchi Americano Bianco
1 oz Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into a low-ball glass with a large ice cube.  Squeeze grapefruit peel over cocktail releasing the citrus oils and swipe the rim of the glass with the peel.  Fold the peel into a petal, skewer with a quarter of a fresh baby artichoke, and float on the surface of the cocktail. 


Editors Note:

The original concept for this drink was to make a 3-Ways-Artichoke cocktail, but I never quite got around to playing with the vermouth.  After publishing this story, I soon learned about Cardamaro, the wine based amaro created by the seven generation vintner, Giovanni Bosca.  Interestingly enough, Cardamaro is not made with Cardamom as many assume, and is considered to be both an amaro and a fortified wine.  The amaro is aged for six months in new oak barrels, and is made from Moscato infused with local herbs and spices, Blessed Thistle, and Cardoon, a relative of the Artichoke family!!!!!

Cardoon - Image via Wikipedia
Fortunately, I had a bottle on hand, and I began testing the cocktail using the Cardamaro instead of the Vermouth, and my favorite variation is the simplest - 1:1:1 - the holy trinity of proportions for the traditional Negroni!   

Without further ado, The 3-Ways Artichoke Negroni:

3-Ways Artichoke Negroni
Created by Gastronomista

1 oz Cynar
1 oz Artichoke Gin (See Above)
1 oz Cardamaro

Stir with ice and strain into a low-ball glass with a large ice cube.  Squeeze grapefruit peel over cocktail releasing the citrus oils and swipe the rim of the glass with the peel.  Fold the peel into a petal, skewer with a quarter of a fresh baby artichoke, and float on the surface of the cocktail.



  1. Who knew artichokes could be so beautiful? Great pictures!

    I had no idea you could infuse and age in a sous vide. That's mind blowing. Of course, sous vide is mind blowing by itself. My friend who owns Urban Chef introduced me to it a few years ago, and it seemed like a weird kind of druidic magic. I see all kinds of possibilities...

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. @Stay at Home Cocktails - Thank you so much! I agree, it turned out to be a very handsome cocktail, and quite delicious if I might say so myself.

    The sous vide has endless potential! I'm really excited about using it and it seems I have a different idea every day! And it's great for day to day cooking, our favorite are sea scallops with butter and lemon zest. So simple!

    Thanks for reading!


  3. The drink seems more like a modified 'Hanky Panky' rather than a Negroni. I think every bartender has tried to perfect the Albino Negroni with some success and some failure. That said, your drink sounds fantastic, just more reminiscent of a Gin Manhattan than a Negroni... Cheers!

  4. I love this idea! It's always a challenge to incorporate seasonal ingredients (especially vegetables!) into a stirred cocktail, but you've done it beautifully here. Gots to get me one of them sous-vide-o-matics.

  5. Thank you so much @Buffington Posts - I agree it's very difficult to incorporate vegetables into cocktails in ways that aren't a Bloody Mary! Please let me know how your sous-vide experiments go!

    Thanks for reading! xxG

  6. @Scotchguy - I think it all depends on how you set the rules to the game. I believe that a Negroni must be one part bitter, one part strong, and one part fortified wine / vermouth. Extra bonus points for the bitter component being in the Campari Family! ha!

    Thank you for your comments, and thanks for reading! xxG


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