It is said that Caravaggio, the painter, made use of light in much the same way as a modern photographer does. I’m not sure if this is what Redd Wood in Napa was thinking when they created this cocktail, but every time I make one I marvel at the color and the sheer prettiness of this drink. This is another one of those ideas for drinks that I received via text message. As a matter of fact, it was from the same person who sent me the Twisted Gimlet. Her taste in cocktails was always the best so I jumped on finding the ingredients immediately. This was my first introduction to Charbay Blood Orange vodka, which is not easy to find, but not terribly difficult either. It also called for Gancia Prosecco, which I also ordered, but I think it’s fairly easy to find a suitable replacement here. (Just look for a Prosecco that’s fruit forward and not terribly dry). I headed right to Benash Liquors website and had them both within a few days. I added some Aperol, which is an orange flavored apertivo that is sightly bitter, but not quite as much as Campari. I wanted to boost the orange flavor a bit, tone down any sweetness, and play off the bite of the ginger ale. The aroma and taste of the Charbay is all blood orange, without any heavy alcohol overtones or the unmistakeable fake sweetness you get when something is flavored, rather than real. The addition of the Prosecco adds some effervescence and makes the drink more fun. The end result of all these elements coming together is nothing short of glorious, just like Caravaggio and his paintings! If I sound like I’m going overboard, bear with me; you know how excited I get. It’s also a perfect example of how the vodka provides the foundation for the drink, and the other ingredients create layers on top of it without ever having to compete with the main spirit. I love to serve this cocktail with one large cube in the goblet you see pictured above. I recently found a set of them for a shamefully low price at a thrift store which makes it even better! I have also poured this drink into a Collins glass with medium sized cubes and it’s just as beautiful. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of finding the Charbay, then look for another high quality vodka that infuses fruit and not just flavor.The Caravaggio from Redd Wood in Yountville, Ca.
2 oz Charbay Blood Orange vodka
1/4 oz Aperol
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup*
1 oz Fever Tree or Q ginger ale
1 oz Gancia Prosecco
4 thin cucumber slices for muddling
1 lemon strip and 1 cucumber slice for garnishing
Place the 4 cucumber slices in the smaller half of a shaker tin along with the simple syrup and muddle gently. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the ginger ale and the Prosecco. Add your 1 large cube and 2 small cubes to the shaker. If you don’t have the large format cubes, fill the shaker 2/3 full with regular ice. Shake for 15 seconds or until very cold. Double strain using a Hawthorne and a mesh strainer into a goblet with 1 large cube, or a Collins glass with medium cubes. Top with the ginger ale and the Prosecco. Garnish with the lemon strip and the cucumber slice. Raise your glass to Caravaggio and enjoy!
*Simple syrup is 1 part sugar added to 1 part water and heated gently in a saucepan until the liquid turns clear. You can store the extra in a Mason jar in the fridge for about a month.
Stop back tomorrow for another vodka based cocktail recipe!