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In this age of fancy cocktails, where every bar worth its Himalayan sea salt churns out libations made with tinctures, infusions, as many types of bitters as herbs in your grandmother's garden and foam with the blood of innocents, sometimes you just want a simple cocktail that you can whip up at home. Something classy, quick and of course, delicious. In that category, we've got a new go-to.
The Up in Arms comes to us from Carlos Yturria of Cafe Claude Marina in San Francisco. This drink is meant to remind you of strolling along the Seine, perhaps stopping for an aperitif at a charming cafe. Nothing too strong, just a light tipple as the sun goes down. It starts with Lillet Rouge, a mostly-merlot based concoction flavored with citrus and herbs. It's often served pre-dinner, straight on the rocks with an orange twist, but Lillet Rouge is even better in this simple drink, mixed with fresh lemon and Bonal Gentiane Quina.
If you're not familiar with Bonal, you're not alone. The liquor store clerk I bought it from examined the bottle quizzically for a few minutes before letting me leave with it. It's another French aperitif, flavored with herbs like gentian and cinchona bark. It's interesting to taste: winey and oak, with a sharp, slightly bitter finish.
Blend these two beauties together, and you'll figure out why this drink is called 'Up in Arms'. A few of these, and you'll fight its reputation to the death. Yes, its good. The citrus adds brightness to the fruity Lillet Rouge, while the herbal Bonal keeps the lemon from being overpowering. Go a little heavy on the Bonal and skimp on the lemon if you like things on the sweeter side; kick up the lemon if you're feeling sluggish on the draw. Either way, this one will get you up and going, with just two bottles and a wedge of fruit.
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