The Count's Negronis & Other Autumn-Inspired Cocktails | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Count's Negronis & Other Autumn-Inspired Cocktails

The weather may not be frightful enough [yet] to belt out the old holiday adage, "let it snow, let it snow, let is snow!" But during the first chills of autumn weather, the fireside does begin to look pretty delightful. And what better way to while away your toasty time than with an autumn-inspired beverage? Gone are the fruity-frozen saccharine-sweet concoctions of summer, and in roll the delightfully bitter and spicy beverages of holidays yore--perfect for sipping whilst reading a good book in front of the fireplace. Don't have one? Pull up your space heater hobo-style, pull on some fuzzy slipper socks, and tune in some soothing crooners; after two or three Negronis you won't be able to tell the difference.

The Count's Negroni

The Negroni is a classic bitter aperitif named after Count Camillo Negroni of Naples in the early 20th century. Its bitterness comes from the jewel-toned Italian staple Campari (orange bitters laced with a prominent grapefruit twang). Gin and sweet vermouth round it all out. Its rich oxblood hue and bitter edge make for a perfect signature Halloween party cocktail. Otherwise, it's delicious on its own any night of autumn, and especially good before dinner to wet your appetite.

1-ounce Campari
1-ounce sweet vermouth (rosso or other)
1-ounce gin

Pour all ingredients over ice into a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled low ball or martini glass. Serve with an orange twist. For a change of pace, you can experiment by steeping the vermouth in mulling spices, or by substituting different flavored gins. The options are endless; just add your imagination and stir.

Cider [House] Rules!

Mulled apple cider has become an American classic. It's easy to make with fresh pressed cider for the kids, or as an alcoholic beverage with brewed hard cider for the adults. Either way you prefer it, cider will warm up your fingers and toes after a long day of apple picking or an evening of trick-or-treating!

For non-alcoholic cider:

1-quart fresh pressed cider
sugar (if desired) to taste
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg, or several pinches loose in a tea bag
Peel of one lemon

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat to low boil, let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Remove spices and serve by ladling into mugs.

For hard mulled cider:
1-liter hard cider
sugar (if desired) to taste
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 whole cloves or star anise
Peel of one lemon and one orange

Heat as instructed above.

German Glühwein

I became familiar with this version of mulled wine [literally translated as: "glowing wine"] while living in Münster. The drink has been a cold weather staple in Europe since the 1400's when wine often went bad and people would heat it and add honey/spices to lengthen its shelf life. Today, it's done simply because it's so delicious and soothing during the chilly nights of fall and winter. Mulled wine is perfect for a large gathering (pumpkin carving parties, holiday dinners, etc) because you can make a huge batch at once and serve it out of the stockpot punch-style. For a little extra somethin' somethin', let your guests add what Germans call "mit schuss": a shot of amaretto, rum or brandy to each mug of wine.

For every liter of red wine add:

125 ml water
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (I like raw turbinado for its caramel-like undertones)
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves or star anise
½ an orange sliced and lemon peel to taste

Boil sugar, water and spices together until full flavor is absorbed. Add in wine and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and let simmer on low during service. Ladle into mugs with a slice of orange and/or lemon peel and cinnamon stick. "Mit schuss" if desired.

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