To begin mixing drinks is to begin a journey; it is like any other skill, patiently learned and gradually honed, in that way. Whether your senses wake in the presence of one particular smell or flavor, or whether they must needs be saturated by layers of distinct yet elusive flavors – either way, your feet are wet, your mind is engaged, your eyes and ears strain to see and hear what was that? and where can I get it? and how do I make it?
These are the first pebbles of the avalanche. Had I not the example of others who understood the inevitability of ignorance in a hugely complex world, I might despair. There is so much to learn, and perhaps so much that must be learned, before taking further steps. There are so many spirits and heaven knows how many liqueurs, not to mention non-alcoholic juices and mixers, bitters and ices and other potables that evade characterization.
So as a beginner, I was pleased to find this list of so-called “Three Ingredient Drinks.” How streamlined! How simple!
…how disappointing to find that no, fruit and simple syrup and such things weren’t included in the count, and there wasn’t a single drink for which I had every ingredient. I looked over every recipe and tried to obtain the ingredients for some of them, including the Campari Collins. I’d have seltzer, lemon, and simple syrup anyway; I’d seen Campari mentioned here and there; I’d be delighted by this summery creation. Right?
Perhaps I should mention that the proportions for the drink were 4 oz chilled seltzer, 2 oz Campari, ¾ oz fresh lemon juice, and ¾ oz simple syrup.
Perhaps I should also mention that using two ounces of Campari is something like using two ounces of bitters. True, the Campari is less concentrated and has a deceitfully translucent color – but the Campari Collins was what you call a learning experience. My friend the Mead and I poured in more and more simple syrup, more seltzer, muddled strawberries, attempting to assuage the bitterness. Two ounces were just too much. In the end, we spent the rest of our languid morning sipping a sort of strawberry lemonade affair, followed by a Thoroughbred:
2 oz bourbon
1 oz orange juice
1 oz brown sugar simple syrup
2 dashes bitters
Combine, shake, strain, and garnish with a twist of orange peel.
The Mead described it as “a julep with orange rather than mint.” And unlike the Campari, we thoroughly enjoyed it.