Since we are still freezing here on the East coast and expecting yet another Nor’easter this week even though it’s late March, I deliberately searched Sasha Petraske’s Regarding Cocktails book for a drink that would look and feel like spring. I landed on a highball called the Bicycle Thief because the ingredients list was irresistible to me. Anytime there’s gin, Campari, and grapefruit juice involved, I’m all in. The recipe for today’s cocktail was shared by bartender Zachary Gelnaw-Rubin who met and worked for Sasha Petraske at Little Branch, located in the West Village in NYC. He shares his memories of Petraske’s life lessons, particularly in the realm of men’s fashion, but also comments that “Sasha’s greatest contribution was his decency – not just in service and hospitality, but in human conduct in general.” Sentiments like these are repeated again and again throughout the book. Gelnaw-Rubin collaborated with his colleague Abraham Hawkins from Dutch Kills, another Petraske speakeasy-type bar in Long Island City. The Bicycle Thief is tart and bitter from the Campari, grapefruit, and lemon combo, which makes Bluecoat gin the perfect base spirit to go along with these components because of its strong juniper and citrus forward flavor profile. The simple syrup brings balance and just enough sweetness, and the club soda adds a refreshing effervescence that really had me wishing I was sipping this drink out on the deck in the shade. This Bicycle Thief is named for a classic 1942 Italian movie that tells the story of a poor father who is searching everywhere in post World War II Rome to find his stolen bicycle, without which he will not be able to work to support his family. Gelnaw-Rubin created a variation of this drink called the Tarzan Cocktail that swaps out the grapefruit juice for pineapple. Oh, don’t even get me started on that one! Cheers everyone. Happy Monday!
Combine all the ingredients except the club soda into a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously until cold and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a thin orange slice. Enjoy!