This stirred nightcap comes from San Francisco bar pro Duggan McDonnell, combining a trio of ingredients not often found together in the same cocktail glass: bourbon, tawny port and the bittersweet amaro Averna.
Amari might be known primarily as something to be sipped from a cordial glass after dinner, but there’s a world of possibility that comes with the category. Made by macerating a combination of ingredients such as herbs, citrus peels, spices, roots, and barks, an amaro (or bitter Italian liqueur) can come in many different forms—bright and bitter, like Campari or Aperol, or deep, dark, and bittersweet, like Braulio or Averna. In the Beatnik cocktail’s case, the viscosity and gentle herbaceousness of Averna makes an intriguing base, especially when paired with sweet, nutty tawny port and an ounce of bourbon.
“Bittersweet cocktails are always my go-to,” says award-winning bartender GN Chan, who co-owns and operates cocktail bar Double Chicken Please in New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood with fellow bartender extraordinare Faye Chen. “[The Beatnik] is a spirit-forward cocktail and is slightly desserty; personally, I like it with my cigar after dinner.” When it comes to using Averna in cocktails, Chan offers a few pointers: “Averna has very nice, earthy, herbaceous aroma, [and] it goes really well with citrus and berries. That’s why tawny port is one of its best friends.”
McDonnell calls for a specific bourbon, Hudson Whiskey's Bright Lights, Big Bourbon, in this drink. Until its relaunch in autumn 2020 it was known as Hudson Baby Bourbon, so if you already have a bottle of that whiskey on your bar cart, it's exactly what you'll want to use in this drink. Its relatively hefty ABV of 46% (that's 92 proof) allows it to hold up well to the large measures of the drink's other ingredients, and its notes of vanilla and salted caramel complement the flavors of the Averna and the nuttiness of the tawny port.
Stir it all up and enjoy your nifty cocktail—bongos, black beret and Jack Kerouac paperback not included.
- 1 1/2 ounces Averna amaro
- 1 ounce tawny port (such as Ferreira)
- 1 ounce Hudson Bright Lights, Big Bourbon
- Garnish: orange wheel
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with an orange wheel.