Shake and strain into chilled coupe.
As anyone who’s been there knows, Southern California forces an aesthetic on its landscape. It’s as if the flora are competing in a beauty contest where the first prize is water. Cacti, palm trees, birds of paradise, cypress trees, european birch, morning glories — the list goes on and on, but more than anything else, it’s the fruit trees I -ahem- pine for. My sister-in-law has a lemon tree in her backyard, so lemons always play a role in the cocktails I make while in town. In the past, I used to pick up a pair of earrings or a vintage dress as a souvenir, but now I like to snag a bottle of something I can’t get at home.
For this trip, I pick up an intriguing bottle of translucent, tangerine-colored Amaro Angeleno. It’s marked Batch # 1, making me among the first people lucky enough to try this delightful spirit produced in Los Angeles from distilled local grapes infused with citrus, herbs and botanicals native to Southern California. Very citrus forward, with notes of pine and caramel tailed with a slightly astringent finish, it would be lovely on the rocks alone or with Lillet Blanc as an apertif. For my cocktail, I juice a lemon and grab a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. I poke around my sister-in-law’s bar and find a small bottle of St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur that I think will pair well with the citrus without overwhelming it.
Into the shaker go an ounce of gin, 3/4 ounce each of St. Germaine and Amaro Angeleno, and half an ounce of lemon juice. With no coupe handy, I strain it into a chilled crystal goblet. It tastes like Southern California feels – bright and full of promise but with a hint of bitter that reminds you that not every Hollywood story has a happy ending.