1/2 Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (1 oz Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 oz Carpano Antica)
2 Dashes Benedictine. (2/3 tsp. Benedictine)
2 Dashes Amer Picon. (2/3 tsp. homemade)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel on top.
A very good cocktail, that, like the Brooklyn, has a real problem in the lack of a key ingredient: Amer Picon.
Amer Picon is a french bitter orange aperitif brand that is owned by Diageo. For some inexplicable reason Diageo refuses to import it into the United States. I dunno why. We’re not worthy, they don’t think there’s enough of a market, they just don’t like America. Something like that.
So if you want to try a Creole, or a Brooklyn, you’ve got a couple choices.
You can travel to France and buy Amer Picon. Unfortunately, even this is fraught with danger, as a few years ago Diageo changed the recipe for the product, reducing its proof. Maybe they aren’t hating on America at all. Perhaps they are just sparing us from a mediocre modern version of the product!?
You can try to make it yourself using Jamie Boudreau’s recipe, Amer Picon.
Last, you can try for a replacement.
Your first choice for a replacement, as I did previously with the Brooklyn, is to use Torani Amer. Torani Amer is a nice product, but unfortunately, as far as I can tell, doesn’t taste all that much like Amer Picon. It’s a bit too vegetal and not orangey enough. It makes a good Brooklyn or Creole, but not a great one.
A second choice of replacement is an obscure Italian Amaro called CioCiaro. It is more common in some US markets than others. It’s good, but not quite as bitter or orangey as Amer Picon. If you can find it, add a dash of Regan’s or Angostura orange bitters to your cocktail and you should be in business.
Another option is to make Jamie Boudreau’s recipe. Jamie’s recipe isn’t too hard. He is, after all, very lazy. Basically you modify a less obscure Italian Amaro called Ramzotti by pumping up the oranginess. The only annoying part is that it takes two months to make the orange tincture. Oh, and you have to find a source for bitter orange peels.
Being nearly as lazy as Jamie, but slightly less patient, I worked out this adaption of his recipe:
7 oz vodka
10 oz Ramzzotti Amaro
2 oz Stirring’s Blood Orange Bitters
1 drop orange oil
Microplane the zest of 1 orange into the vodka. Let stand a few minutes. Filter through 4 layers of cheese cloth into a clean bottle, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.
Pour Ramzotti Amaro through cheese cloth and orange zest, again squeezing out as much liquid as possible.
Add Blood Orange bitters and orange oil.
Shake to mix. It’s probably best to let it sit for a day or so.
I’m not totally sold, I think it might slightly overdo the fresh orange flavor. But it isn’t bad and doesn’t take 2 months to make. Definitely prefer it to Torani Amer.
Anyway, so you’ve done all that, and you’ve got some form of Amer Picon replacement. What’s up with the cocktail? It’s kind of hilarious. To be honest, the Creole is one of the most inexplicably fruity and, dare I say it, silly whiskey cocktails going. The intersection between the orange of the Amer Picon, the vermouth (I think especially if you use Carpano Antico), the whiskey and the lemon peel is almost comical. Comical and delicious.
This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.