The Erin is a pretty and balanced cocktail featured in Brad Thomas Parsons’ book Last Call. The book bounces around from bar to bar—some divey and others ritzy—all the while asking each bartender what they’d like to drink if it were their last. The colorful characters and historic bars steal the show, and many of the pros opt for something other than a cocktail. The Long Island Bar in Brooklyn is not on this list, and opts for the shimmering and sweet Erin cocktail, which head barman Toby Cecchini created spontaneously on request. “If I’m on my deathbed”, he wryly notes, “I’m sure going to have something strong. You’re looking back on your life, so I would want something strong, sweet, and bitter.”
At face value, the Erin is a good choice for evenings when the Negroni family stands out, but the old guard might seem a bit heavy and bitter. With a healthy portion of bitter suze and sweet china china amer, finished off with a few dashes of allspice dram, this drink has the skeleton of a Boulevardier but leans on the sweeter, fruitier side with lots of zesty peel. In fact, with not one but two peels and an orange-dominant amaro to back them up, this drink is an excellent choice for those who love the heavenly aroma of citrus, especially when paired with wintry spices. The Erin is also an excellent example of the mixing style peddled by many of New York City’s modern drinking establishments: so much so that for us, the aroma—balanced yet strong, with sparkling citrus peel and herbal gentian—brought back fond memories.
The original recipe calls for equal-parts of two vermouths: Cinzano Rosso and Carpano Antica. This specificity is not without warrant, as an overly sweet vermouth will push the drink out of balance. Fear not, home bartenders, as any semi-sweet vermouth will do, with spicier bottles faring best. Of course, if you are the sort who keeps multiple vermouths in stock, and just so happen to have both Carpano and Cinzano in stock, consider this moment a brush with fate. The original recipe also requests Suze: a bittersweet blonde apéritif with a heavy nose of herbal gentian. Suze is absolutely wonderful, and a must try, but we already had the excellent kina l'aero d'or from Tempus Fugit in stock and it worked beautifully. The original recipe also specifically requests Bigallet china china amer, though any liqueur in the amer picon family will do.