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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Cocktails That Complete Me: Tailspin Cocktail

By Jason Wilson
IMG_3267_opt.jpg The Tailspin Cocktail. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Well, I did it. I have now tasted all 100 drinks on The List of must-have cocktails. There were only 17 that I had never tried, and so for the past two months, I've been filling in my cocktail knowledge. I'd like to say the work has been challenging, but it hasn't, not really. I've just been mixing up a drink or two a week after work. In fact, it goes to prove that everyone's cocktail knowledge can increase quickly. It's simply a matter of trying new drinks on a regular basis -- exploring new tastes and surprising your palate.

Recipe Included

There were so many surprises and small revelations as I completed the list. I've decided that good raspberry syrup should be as much a part of my bar setup as grenadine. Who knew that it paired so well with rye whiskey and grapefruit juice in the Blinker? I also learned how well rye whiskey works with fresh pineapple juice in the Algonquin. I discovered the delights of blackberry liqueur creme de mure and am looking forward to drinking a Bramble or two as the weather turns warm. I found an interesting use for falernum and Black Strap rum in the Corn 'n' Oil. I also now have a few new twists on classics that I already love. For instance, the Old Pal is a Negroni variation that calls for rye whiskey instead of gin and dry vermouth instead of sweet.

As my project comes to a close, I've left the Tailspin Cocktail especially for last. Looking at the ingredients, I could immediately see it was a variation on one of my favorites, the Bijou: equal parts Plymouth gin, sweet vermouth and green Chartreuse. But the Tailspin replaces the Bijou's orange bitters with Campari, one of my essential spirits. It made for a lighter, brighter cocktail -- though I'm torn on which I prefer.

In the end, the Tailspin illustrates why the world of cocktails is always evolving, and why it's fun to play bartender at home. Even changing the smallest ingredient -- a dash of Campari for a dash of bitters -- can make a big difference in taste. Cocktail recipes are always meant to be tweaked this way. So experiment! Change the ratios. Replace one spirit for whatever bottle you have on hand. Who knows? Maybe you'll come up with something that belongs on the next generation's list of the 100 must-drink cocktails.

Wilson is the author of "Boozehound." He can be reached at jason@jasonwilson.com. Follow him on Twitter.


Tailspin Cocktail
1 serving

This surprising cocktail is essentially a Bijou, a favorite of Spirits columnist Jason Wilson's. It has a dash of Campari rather than orange bitters. The drink works much better with less juniper-forward gin, such as Plymouth. Adapted from the Oh Gosh! cocktail blog.

Ice
3/4 ounce gin, preferably Plymouth
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
1/2 teaspoon Campari
Twist of lemon peel, for garnish
Preserved or maraschino cherry, for garnish (see related recipe online)

Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice. Add the gin, vermouth, green Chartreuse and Campari. Stir well, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass. Twist the lemon peel over the drink to release its essence, then drop it in, along with the cherry.

By Jason Wilson  | March 4, 2011; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Spirits  | Tags:  Cocktails That Complete Me, Jason Wilson  
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