This cocktail is appropriate for all occasions, all types of weather, and all ages. Well….that’s only mostly accurate. I have found this cocktail to be enjoyed across all demographics, even people who claim not to like whiskey. The tart citrus, slight bitter of the amaro, aroma of lavender, and spice of rye all come together for a very balanced and easy drinking cocktail. But the real secret is that this drink is made with a heap of love in celebration of a great friendship.
Friends like Gregg Ivey are hard to come by. One of a kind, true blue. It is hard to recall all the times we shared: exploring abandoned buildings, sharing cold beers in Lincoln Park, getting trucks stuck in the mud, arguing about music, pranking friends, moving away from home, moving back. The memories are fond, and now tinged with the bitter pain of loss. I feel this cocktail captures those emotions well. This is a beverage for the glory days, for reminiscing, and for joy.
.5 oz lemon
.5 oz lavender-honey syrup
.75 oz Ciociaro
1.5 oz Rittenhouse rye
First you will need to make your lavender honey syrup. Combine ½ cup water, ½ cup honey, and 2 tablespoons of lavender in a sauce pan. Bring contents to a simmer and remove from heat. Stir and cover and allow the lavender to steep for about 20 minutes. Strain the lavender out and refrigerate. Yields about 1 cup and will last in the fridge for over a month.
Next you will need fresh squeezed lemon juice. Simply squeeze some lemons and send the juice thru a fine strainer to remove pulp and seeds. You need ½ an ounce of juice per drink so if you want to match the amount of lavender-honey syrup, plan on juicing 8 oz of lemon (about 6-10 lemons depending on size).
Thirdly, make a stop at a decent liquor store and pick up a bottle of Rittenhouse rye whiskey and Ciociaro. I prefer Rittenhouse for this cocktail but any decent rye whiskey will suffice (100 proof/bonded preferred). Ciociaro is an Italian amaro named for the region it comes from in central Italy. It has some cola, gentian, clove, and bitter orange flavors and is a key ingredient that gives the drink its complexity. In a pinch Ramazzotti Amaro or Nardini Amaro can serve as substitutes.
As with all cocktails, begin with the smallest amounts and combine all ingredients in a shaker tin. Add ice. Shake hard for 10 seconds. Double strain into a glass of your choosing (something stemmed recommended but not required). Garnish with an expressed lemon tab. Consume with people you are thankful to call friends.
4 oz lemon, 4 oz honey-lavender syrup, 6 oz Ciociaro, 12 oz Rittenhouse rye. Combine all ingredients in a container. For one cocktail, shake 3 oz of mix. Makes 12-13 cocktails. Batch will last about 36 hours refrigerated. It won’t go bad after that but it will start losing some of the structure and taste.
So cheers to the glory days.
To the friends who stay with you forever.
And to Gregg Ivey — always.