When the Fat Lady Sings…

Stone fruit season is definitely coming to a close. A recent trip Berkeley Bowl last week revealed the selection of apricots, plums, nectarines, and their various crosses starting to diminish. There were in fact only about two or three apricot varieties on display, way down from the dozen or so earlier in the month.

Of course, what’s important about this story is that this was supposed to be the summer I overcame my traditional resistance to stone fruit and figure out how to make some original cocktails with them. While I have been known to eat (OK, take a bite of) the occasional peach or apricot, I just seem to be missing the gene that makes one crave this class of fruit. (Excepting cherries. I love cherries.) At the same time, I completely get how outrageously fortunate we are in this part of the country when stone fruit come into season and how awesome it is to use them in cocktails. Hence my resolve, which was thwarted every time I went into the market. How easily my eyes leapt from the piles of pluots and apriums towards the baskets of easy to love marion blackberries and raspberries. How simple to think of something to make with those! How quickly I forgot my good intentions to learn something new!

Finally, a few days ago, I purchased some of the last apricots, Rival from Washington state. They were medium sized fruit, good looking, firm but starting to show signs of serious ripening. They even smelled like apricots, while so many reveal nothing when sniffed. This, I said to myself, was it: my last chance to make good on my promise. Thus, into a bag a few of the softer feeling fruit went.

That evening, I got to work. I have admit I didn’t tinker around very much before hitting upon the recipe I am about to share. That’s mostly because on the second iteration of this fresh apricot sour, when I swapped Calvados for Laird’s 100-proof straight apple brandy, I felt I had created something so delicious, I felt no inclination to do more than sit back, sip, and savor. No rush, I told myself, there’s always next season.

When the Fat Lady Sings
(Fresh Apricot Sour)

A half of a medium-sized very ripe apricot, cut into about six pieces.
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. home made orgeat
2 oz. Laird’s 100-proof straight apple brandy
1/4 oz. Amaro Montenegro
A small slice of apricot, for garnish

Put the cut apricot half, the lemon juice, and the orgeat into a mixing glass.
Firmly muddle this mixture until the apricot is well pureed.
Add the apple brandy and amaro.
Shake over ice.
Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with the small slice of apricot, if desired


Made this cocktail using the season’s last apricots, hence the name.

Earlier iterations of this cocktail used Calvados and the regular Laird’s Applejack. Neither had the assertiveness necessary to balance against the fresh apricot.

You may need to use a barspoon to work the cocktail through the strainer as it gets pretty thick in there.


6 Responses to “When the Fat Lady Sings…”

  1. Susan Gibbs Says:

    Hi Michael,

    I keep sending you Twitter messages, but I get the sense that you don’t see them. Here’s one:

    @Manhattan_Up’s Apricot Sour recipe looks nomnomnom. If apricots are gone, tempting to try fragrant plums. But how is Montenegro dif from Nonino?

    Another: @manhattan_up Left Coast Libations is a really good book – witty informative and full of personality. Also, the cocktail recipes are great!

  2. Susan

    Thanks stopping by. I suppose I should stretch myself and try some plums…they still seem to be available. ;->

    The Montenegro is pretty unique among the amari I have tried. It’s quite floral and does not have much of the more typical cola/caramel notes that many of the other medium bitters exhibit, including the Nonino. A few years ago it ‘lost’ its importer here in the US and was unavailable. That changed just a few months back and now it’s readily available again. Cask in SF stocks it for sure.


    P.S. Thanks also for all the @ mentions. I don’t always see them as they are not threaded into the regular twitter ‘timeline’

  3. Susan Gibbs Says:

    I tried this recipe but used Small Hands Orgeat and a juicy Santa Rosa Plum, and a splash of Rothman’s Apricot liqueur to balance the extra bitterness from the plum skins. It was most delicious!

  4. […] Stirred, Not Shaken Blogging on cocktails and the making of a new cocktail book « When the Fat Lady Sings… […]

  5. I’m in rural New England – have to mail order for things like Montenegro. You say the taste is unique, but can you make any comparison to any of the ones I have: Ramazzotti, Torani Amer, Zucca, or even something like sweet vermouth or Dubonnet or Lillet? We also don’t have the fruit you all have out there in California, but our supermarket does import some from South America.

  6. Susan

    The Montenegro is lighter is color and very floral in nose and flavor. Ramazzotti is more cola/caramel/orangey, very different from the Montenegro. Torani Amer is, for better or worse, more like a syrup than a true amari, being very low in alcohol. I haven’t tried the Zucca but I am going to bet it’s more akin to Ramazzotti or Averna than to the Montenegro. In fact, Braulio is the only other amari I’ve sampled which I’d put in the same class as the Montenegro.

    Vermouths ,like the ones you mentioned, are very different than amari though qinquinas, like Bonal and Cocchi Americano, do contain bitter herbs (chinchona). If you were looking to substitute something for the Montenegro, these might prove interesting.



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