The Union Club

Buckle in, folks, there be peculiar similes ahead.

I did some whinging about how Campari is just so bitter and I don’t know how to deal with that, whereupon Mr. Joseph Tkach suggested a Union Club.  Wanting to work my way through the Campari at a reasonable pace (and use up a nearly-empty bottle of Maker’s Mark), I figured now was the time.  So here we go:

The Union Club

2 oz bourbon
½ oz maraschino liqueur
½ oz Campari
1 ½ oz fresh orange juice

I could get as far as imagining the bourbon playing well with the orange juice, and the maraschino hanging about with the Campari.  But so far as I could see, they were on opposite sides of the playground – the bourbon and OJ playing rugby or football or something while the Campari wrote curiously obscure poetry and the maraschino tried not to look so tall.

Altogether, the maraschino was easiest to smell and the first thing I tasted.  Then came the slight punchiness of the bourbon, with whispers of orange accompanying it, before the swooping bitterness of the Campari – although I must grant you that it was the least unpleasant Campari’s been in my experience.  One could say that I was so focused on not focusing on the Campari that I hardly noticed anything else.  By the time I’d reached the bottom of the drink, the flavor of the bourbon had somehow – magically, even alchemically – melded with the Campari’s bitterness, which ameliorated it slightly.

Overall, it was miles ahead of the Campari Collins and about half a block ahead of the Carolingian Effort.  It doesn’t quite make me leap up, saying “Ahhh yes, that is what I need to drink right now!”

But it also does away with the idea that Campari should be a penalty foisted on those who lose bets.  I shall chalk it up as a success.


3 thoughts on “The Union Club”

  1. You ever wonder why we all keep trying to choke down Campari? It seems like some cosmic inside joke. I keep looking for “less awful” Campari drinks…though the Jasmine is pretty good..

    Great post. Will try the drink and see if bourbon works better with Campari…

  2. Having wondered the same thing, I have a whole list of answers. The most convincing is that someone whose authority we trust has said Campari to be a worthwhile flavor/experience/contribution to certain drinks. Since we trust them on gin/Chartreuse/whisky/whatever, it behooves us to trust them on Campari &c.

    Next most convincing (to me, at least) is how it turns everything that lovely grapefruit color. Perhaps that should carry less weight, as it doesn’t exactly taste like grapefruit and so sets me up for continual disappointment.

    Then there’s the desire to master this ingredient, to unfold it, to learn how to wield it effectively…which desire lands one with a bottle to use up. …and even as I’m wondering how to fit all my bottles in the cabinet, I’m considering getting some Aperol for the sake of comparison (and to see what exactly that Nouvelle Fleur is like).

    I looked up the Jasmine and it looks quite promising! Do you use Paul Harrington’s original recipe (low Cointreau/Campari, high lemon) or Robert Hess’s remake (higher Cointreau/Campari, less lemon)?

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