This drink comes from Ted Saucier’s postwar booze compendium, Bottoms Up, but he offers no provenance for it, as he does with the majority of the other drinks in his book. So maybe he invented it? In any case, it’s the best use so far I’ve found for amer (Picon being a proprietary name for one version), a French bitter-orange aperitif, similar to Italian amaros. Since there’s not much else to say about this one, let’s just get to the recipe.
1 oz. Amer Picon (sub Torani Amer – Amer Picon, if you can get it now, is bottled at 18% ABV, while the Torani is 39)
1 oz. gin
3/4 oz. Italian vermouth (I used Contratto but this would probably be even better with Carpano Antica)
1 dash curaçao (I used about 1/4 tsp.)
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
This is one of those really well-balanced bitter drinks that is still eminently drinkable. Bitter is a dangerous set of flavors to play with, and can easily devolve into a real horrorshow on your tongue, but this drink showcases everything that is right with bitter. Make no mistake, you’re getting a heavy dose of it with the vermouth and the amer, but unless you’re really sensitive, you won’t find this too bitter at all. Maybe it’s the dash of curaçao? In any case, this is a winner. A very strong four livers.