A beautiful, balanced and sophisticated cocktail that pairs rye whiskey, Campari and sweet fig jam. Fresh lemon juice and lemon bitters add a bright, citrusy note. This is what we’re drinking on Valentine’s Day… and as often as we can after that.
We’ve officially been seriously flipping busy lately. Besides our day jobs — did we mention we have day jobs? sadly this blogging lark doesn’t keep us in dog treats, cat ointment or chicken vests — we’ve been working extremely hard on a super secret Nerds with Knives-related project that we’ll tell you about in detail in a couple of months.
All of this to say that it had been so long since we’d gone out to dinner — food that somebody else plans and cooks and hands to us —that when we finally ventured out to Heritage for Matt’s birthday, we had kinda forgotten how the whole thing works. We poked and flapped the menus in front of our faces as though they were coded missives from another planet. We sat, glassy-eyed and startled, as a waiter explained specials. When the delicious food arrived on our tables, we started discussing how we were going to photograph it before realizing that, actually, we weren’t obliged to. And then we actually were able to relax and start having a good time, and it was in no small part due to the delicious Fig and Bourbon cocktail we picked out from the drinks menu. This recipe is our loose interpretation of that cocktail, made with Valentine’s Day love. We call it “The Notorious F.I.G.”
The defining element in the cocktail is fig, which in this case is supplied by fig jam. While fresh figs are only in season for a very short time, you can pick up good fig jam at just about any grocery store any time of year. Besides the flavor, the jam adds a mellow sweetness that balances out the sharp rye. If fig isn’t your thing, plum would be another nice option.
We decided to use our favorite local Hudson Valley rye because we love its spicy and peppery notes, but any decent bourbon would also work well. As always, a mixed drink isn’t the place to use your fanciest, most expensive whisky, but there are quite a few good, decently-priced ryes these days. Our other go-tos are Rittenhouse Rye, Redemption Rye and Bulleit Rye.
To balance out the sweetness, we turn to the Italian aperitif, Campari. The key component in Negronis, Campari has an herbal, bitter flavor that, once you get a taste for, you want it in everything. It also adds an incredible deep pink color, which makes it perfect for a Valentine’s Day cocktail.
To serve, we topped the glasses with dehydrated slices of lemon and blood orange, and threw in a spring or two of thyme for a little herbal note. Happy Valentine’s Day!
- 2 ounces rye (or bourbon) whiskey
- 1 tablespoon fig preserves
- ½ ounce Campari
- ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
- 2 dashes lemon bitters
- Garnish: lemon slice, sprig of thyme
- In a shaker filled with ice, add rye, Campari, fig preserves, lemon juice and bitters. Shake vigorously for about a minute. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of thyme.