More snow = more botched plans = more time at home = a few more drinks.
The Violet Hour. I like how those words call to mind the transition from late afternoon to evening. In addition to being the evocative term DeVoto used to describe the cocktail hour*, the Violet Hour is also the name of a great drink from a well-known Chicago bar of the same name. And it's the title of an excellent album by The Clientele.
While DeVoto may have shunned the Manhattan (there were only two drinks he considered worthwhile - straight whiskey and the Martini) the Violet Hour (drink) is a Manhattan at heart. Some of the vermouth used is dry so I suppose it's a twist on the 'perfect' variation. Either way, it carves out its own territory by tweaking the vermouth and adding a little bit of rum to the mix. Hearty, flavorful, rich and molasses-y Black Strap rum. Less than a teaspoon, but that's enough. Perhaps not as elegant and rich as your favorite Manhattan (we all have favorites) but, in this case, sacrificing a little luxury offers a glimpse of adventure.
The Gatehouse started out as a reverse Black Manhattan. I tweaked things a little bit and, probably because the snow is making me crazy, I added some vodka. Actually, that's only partially true. The snow is making me crazy but I also took some inspiration from the Gypsy Queen. I often neglect vodka based drinks but I like how the vodka in the Gypsy Queen allows the Benedictine an opportunity to stretch out and anchor the drink. Half of the Gatehouse is Averna, the other half is split between bourbon and vodka. Averna drives things for sure (rich, dark, bitter) but its sweeter and heavier qualities are lengthened by the vodka which also frees up some space for the bourbon.
Lastly, the Meanwhile. Oh wait, what's this? A drink with Cynar and Campari? No way. I'll forgo the usual business about how much I love those two ingredients and mix them with almost everything and just say that combining them with Yellow Chartreuse (equal parts) is delicious. Silky smooth and intensely herbal. There's a bitter quality of course, especially on the finish, but the full ounce of Yellow Chartreuse is what makes this drink work. It softens things and keeps the Cynar and Campari in check but stops short of overwhelming the drink with its own sweet and herbal flavor. This is one of those drinks that kind of tastes like cough syrup. For some people that might be a deal breaker. For me, it's a deal maker (sorry, I plead the snow). Really though, I liked the cough syrup we always had on hand when I was a kid. It was yellow...medicinal...rich...sweet...wait a second, that sounds familiar.
Violet Hour- Toby Maloney, The Violet Hour, Chicago, Il
2 oz Bourbon
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
+1/2 tsp Cruzan Blackstrap
3 dashes Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters
Build over ice
1 1/2 oz Averna
3/4 oz Bourbon
3/4 oz Vodka
Garnish - Lemon Peel
Build over ice
1 oz Cynar
1 oz Campari
1 oz Yellow Chartreuse
Stir, strain, up
*This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affectations glow and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn. - Bernard DeVoto, The Hour, 1948