Longtime readers know my proclivity for big, bold, festively garnished tiki drinks served over buckets of crushed ice. There’s plenty of recipes here on CocktailWonk.com and in the Minimalist Tiki book which testify to that. However, simple, boozy libations over a single large cube in an old-fashioned glass are also in regular rotation here at Casa Cocktail Wonk.
I’ll spare you an overly long and personal origin story about the recipe that follows. There is none. What I will share is that a rye whiskey Boulevardier is among my favorite classic recipes. Equal parts rye, Campari and sweet Italian (red) vermouth, it’s a Negroni with the gin replaced by rye. Mrs. Wonk is particularly partial to them when she (inexplicably!) desires a break from the tiki parade.
Now, I’m not one to hold a recipe’s proportions sacrosanct. While my logical side is drawn to equal-parts recipes like the Negroni or Boulevardier, my taste buds take priority. I constantly fiddle with ingredient ratios to arrive at where all the parts shine, but also blend together harmoniously. For my palate, the Campari stomps all over the other ingredients in a 1:1:1 Negroni or Boulevardier. Thus, I back off on the Campari, while bumping up the gin or rye, as appropriate.
I’m also drawn towards flavor combination that seem odd at first glance, but in practice are sublime. Coffee and pineapple are one such combo, as seen in the Mr. Bali Hai. Campari and passion fruit are another. You can probably see where I’m going with this.
Think of Campari as that outgoing woman who’s friends with rye and vermouth, but also sometimes hangs out with passion fruit liqueur. One day (pre-Social Distancing, naturally) Campari had a small get-together, inviting her three friends for a lovely soirée that I’ve dubbed La Passione del Conte.
Translated from Italian, the phrase means The Count’s Passion. The count refers to Count Negroni, who I’d like to imagine enjoyed passion fruit – and occasionally wore a tiki shirt.
Enough with the backstory. To the recipe!
La Passione del Conte – Matt Pietrek (Cocktail Wonk)
- 0.75 oz Sweet Italian (red) vermouth
- 0.5 oz Campari
- 0.5 oz Giffard Fruit de la Passion
- 1.5 oz high ABV rye (50% or higher)
Chill old-fashioned glass in advance with ice or in fridge/freezer.
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir with mixing spoon until well chilled.
Strain over a single, large format ice cube in the chilled glass
Express cut orange peel over the surface. Add to drink as a garnish, if desired.
You’ll note that there’s three times as much rye as Campari or passion fruit liqueur here. The latter two would run all over the more subtle rye spice notes otherwise. You could even drop them both down to a quarter oz each, if you wanted the rye to stand out more.
The vermouth is an essential supporting player here. It lengthens the drink out a bit, while adding another herbal dimension distinct from the Campari. Give it a try with a vermouth like Carpano Antica, which brings a nice vanilla note to the festivities.
I find La Conte del Passione dangerously drinkable. It goes down deceptively easy, yet holds the same heft as a more traditional stirred cocktail. You’ve been warned! Cheers for now!