Affinity Cocktail Port Scotch Sherry Angostura Bitters

The Imperfect Mr. Roy: Adonis thru the Affinity Cocktail

Tonight’s session is a low-stakes affair, with only three cocktails on the schedule: the ADONIS, the AFFINITY, and the AFFINITY COCKTAIL. There is port to be purchased and there is dry sherry to be purchased, and once again we are confronted with the utter foolishness of this endeavor. We buy bottle after bottle of obscure liquor, use a couple of ounces for our purposes, then relegate them to the far reaches of storage where they may not be called on for years. This is what we have signed up for, however. We knew this going in. There are startup costs that cannot be evaded and now the issue of where to store all of this stuff gets thornier each week. Brian is up to the challenge, however, and dives deep into the Port 101 site to find us a suitable port wine that we can use in the AFFINITY COCKTAIL only. He then dives into sherry research and his enthusiasm drives away my sour mood completely, so that the drinks themselves can bring it on back with interest.

The ADONIS was created by New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1884 to promote a long-running burlesque show called, well, “Adonis.” Punchdrink.com says “Adonis” is often credited as the first-ever Broadway musical, which makes this cocktail’s history pretty special. Finally, a cocktail with a pedigree. This is our first encounter with a sherry-based cocktail, however, and we are, admittedly, a little skeptical of it. Will we break out into song? Will we lose all credibility? Do we have any credibility to lose?

ADONIS
2 oz. dry sherry (Lustau 3 En Rama Fino de el Puerto de Santa Maria)
1 oz. sweet vermouth (Dolin)
1-2 dashes orange bitters (Rituals DIY Orange Bitters)

Combine with ice; shake. Strain over ice.

I can’t say we enjoyed this very much at all. Sure, the Adonis is a non-threatening, low-alcohol aperitif but it seems aimless to us. It’s a cocktail with no initiative and few goals. To me it tastes flat and winey and heavy in my mouth somehow. Bubbles. It needs bubbles to defibrillate my palate back to life! This is what it needs, in my opinion, but we are too demoralized to do anything about it.

Eric: “It’s very ambiguous.”
Brian: “This is another nothing drink.”
Eric: “It just lays there in your mouth, like a dead… like a dead… It just lays there.”
Brian: “This is what happens when you combine fortified wine with more fortified wine.”
Eric: “I understand that someone might want to have one of these before dinner, but I’m not sure who that someone is.”

SCORES: Brian 2, Eric 2.

Perhaps someday we will return to the ADONIS on a summer day and its sublime refreshingness will wash over us. Yes, we will meet again, ADONIS.

The AFFINITY is a Perfect Rob Roy for somebody with a vermouth fetish. A Rob Roy is a Manhattan with Scotch, and a Perfect Rob Roy divides the normal sweet vermouth allocation into equal parts sweet and dry vermouths. But while a proper Perfect Rob Roy usually combines 2 parts Scotch with 1 part vermouth (half dry and half sweet), the AFFINITY amps up the vermouth by a factor of 4, for a 1:2 Scotch to vermouth ratio! For some reason I keep thinking of that Schoolhouse Rock episode and the song “Don’t Drown Your Food (In Ketchup or Mayo or Goo)”. Don’t drown your Rob Roy in vermouth, indeed.

AFFINITY
.75 oz. Scotch (Famous Grouse)
.75 oz. sweet vermouth (Dolin)
.75 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
A few dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine with ice; shake. Strain. Add ice, and a twist of lemon plus peel, and top with a cherry.

Eric: “This is not great. What are we doing wrong?”
Brian: “All I can taste is vermouth.”
Eric: “This is better than the Adonis, but only barely.”
Brian: “Too earthy. It tastes of earth.”

Later I stumble across a place called Bramblebar U.K. that combines Glenmorangie 10 year, Byrrh, and Noilly Prat Dry, then serves this version of the AFFINITY to their customers in these handsome bottles:

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So of course we have to give it another go. We decide to ramp up the Scotch and make the ratios a little closer to a Perfect Rob Roy.

THE MODIFIED AFFINTY (Rituals Variation)
1 oz. Scotch (Famous Grouse)
.5 oz. sweet vermouth (Dolin)
.5 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
A few dashes of Angostura bitters

This is better, but the drink really needs to go all of the way and become a Perfect Rob Roy. But it’s not a Perfect Rob Roy, it’s an AFFINITY, so we can’t very well do that, can we? Brian feels that the drink needs a little more citrus and adds a few too many dashes of orange bitters. This seems incrementally better as well, but it’s impossible to say for sure. We are non-plussed. We are untethered. Does the beverage in that handsome Bramblebar bottle taste like the thing we are drinking? Hmmm.

SCORES: Brian: 2 for the original, 2.5 for the Modified Affinity, 3 for the Double-Modified Affinity (with orange bitters). Eric: 2, 3, 4.

Finally, there is the AFFINITY COCKTAIL, which replaces all of the vermouth with dry sherry and port. The Internet knows nothing about this particular variation, although FinestCall.com says:

“Incorporating sherry or port into a Manhattan adds tremendous body, depth of flavor and complexity to the drink. Port is a sensational replacement for sweet vermouth. On the whole they have supple bodies, fruit-laced bouquets and flavor-laden palates. It is especially well suited for pairing with whiskeys and brandies. Sherry is another stellar fortified wine tailor-made for use in gourmet Manhattans.”

What promising language! Tremendous, sensational, stellar! We have to try this.

AFFINITY COCKTAIL
.75 oz. Scotch (Famous Grouse)
.75 oz. dry sherry (Lustau 3 En Rama Fino de el Puerto de Santa Maria)
.75 oz. port (Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Porto)
A few dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine with ice; shake. Strain. Add ice, and a twist of lemon plus peel, and top with a cherry.

Eric: “This drink is worse than the sum of its parts.”
Brian: “It’d be better if we drank each thing separately and then they mixed in my stomach.”
Eric: “Also, more whiskey is not the solution here.”
Brian: “Somewhere there is somebody whose taste receptors love this drink. I don’t know if I want to meet this person.”
Eric: “This variation is definitely more interesting, but more interesting does not necessarily mean better.”

SCORES: Brian 2.5, Eric 3.

SESSION STATS

Location:
-Brian’s Place

Session 2 Winner:
-The Modified Affinity, but that is like being the most well-behaved individual in prison.

Session 2 Loser:
-Probably the Adonis.

Session 2 Alternate of Actual Quality:
-The Chaplin, which uses orange bitters and dry sherry. Brian: “I liked the drink but it didn’t knock my socks off.”

THE CHAPLIN
.75 oz bourbon (Eagle Rare)
.75 oz dry sherry (Lustau 3 En Rama Fino de el Puerto de Santa Maria)
.75 oz Ramazzotti
.125 oz Cointreau (Grand Marnier)
1 dash orange bitters (Rituals DIY bitters)

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Homemade/Homegrown Items Used:
-Rituals DIY Orange Bitters
-Brian’s sour cherry infused Wild Turkey 101 (Brian: “Disgusting cough syrup”)

Tasted:
-Batavia Arrack, twice no less
-Sugar Daddy Sonoma Sugar Baron Style Dark Rum (the Vanillaroma of rums)
-Brian’s awful Cherry Turkey (see above)

Eaten:
-No food was eaten.

Discussed:
-Idiots
-The ability to detach
-The volume of a “dash” vs. the volume of an eyedropper
-Dave Wondrich on Maddow
-Better Bites methodology
-How $18 whiskey doesn’t taste as good as $60 whiskey
-Updated edition of Imbibe!

On the next Rituals: The Standard Hotel’s Bar Manager, Melaney Schmidt, Talks Gin.



Eric D. Anderson

About

Eric D. Anderson came to appreciate cocktails late in life and is trying to make up for lost time. He finds that crafting drinks involves the same precision, creativity, sociability, and ritual as baking—another passion—and believes that it brings people together in the same way. Eric is the director of Way of the Puck, a feature-length documentary about professional air hockey, and the editor of Stories of Quitting (storiesofquitting.com), an online collection of true stories that celebrate giving up. His writing has appeared in AGNI, Painted Bride Quarterly, Perigee, Giant Robot, and Wild Quarterly, among other publications. In his free time he works as a camera operator on commercials and motion pictures.


  • Michelle

    I SO love you choice of words!!!!!!!!!!

Always drink responsibly!