Recently, I picked up a bottle of Cappelletti Aperitivo. I had tasted it before and since it was reminiscent of Campari, which we use regularly at home, I thought this might provide an interesting (and less expensive) change of pace. The foundation of wine that the more bitter qualites rest upon in the Cappelletti was unmistakable and interesting. The sweetness however, was a bit much for my taste and something I continually tried to offset with other ingredients. It was fun to experiment with but gradually I realized that I was trying to make it taste and function more like Campari than was probably fair to ask of it. So back to Campari we went.
The Cappelletti never quite made it to the back of the shelf though. I attribute this to several factors, most notably its bitterness, which I liked, and the unique bottle and label design which continued to beckon from among the other bottles surrounding it.
Eventually, in an unusual but welcome fit of boredom, I looked at the Cappelletti and decided some experimentation was in order. I grabbed a small cream whipper and infused the Cappelletti with some Earl Grey tea that had also been lingering about. I expected the Cappelletti to pick up some of the bergamot flavor that distinguishes Earl Grey. I wasn’t sure if that would be a good thing but the something that it would be was intriguing and that was pretty much all I needed to proceed.
The result didn’t taste like Earl Grey though. It hardly tasted like tea at all. What had changed significantly was the sweetness, or at least my perception of it, of the Cappelletti. I’m guessing this is due to the tannins in the tea. And the fact that I probably didn’t use enough Earl Grey for it to really assert itself on the overall flavor of the Cappelletti. This turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. In addition to being drier, the infused liquid had a dark, almost earthy weight to the body. It didn’t taste like tea but the depth had increased and there was a richer, rounder and fuller quality which wasn’t present prior to infusing. There was also a complexity to it though I’m not sure if that came from the tea or if it was just there all along and the decrease in perceived sweetness allowed me to fully appreciate it.
I ended up using the tea-infused Cappelletti in a Negroni/Boulevardier type of drink. Since the Cappelletti has a pronounced wine base I dropped the vermouth altogether. The apples from the Laird’s mixed nicely with the bitterness of the Cappelletti. The Baker’s was added afterwards as an accent. Baker’s isn’t shy at 107 proof and it has a rich distinctive flavor that I enjoy. Even at just 1/2 oz its contributions were noticeable and it managed to fit in well with the other ingredients.
1 1/2 oz Earl Grey Infused Cappelletti*
1 1/2 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Baker’s Bourbon
2 dashes Peychaud’s
Garnish – Orange Peel
Build over ice.
*Put 4 oz of Cappelletti, 1 tsp Earl Grey and 1 strip of orange peel in a cream whipper and charge with N2O. Let sit for 2-3 minutes swirling it occasionally. Vent the gas and strain.