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If You Love Negronis, You'll Adore This Cocktail

By Anthony Todd in Food on Dec 28, 2015 5:01PM

The Aegean Sea at Cindy's. Courtesy of Cindy's.

Negronis are pretty much the hippest cocktail there is right now, and (aside from people's love of obscure things), there's a good reason: They're delicious. Even better, this bitter combination of gin, vermouth and campari somehow works in every season. It's refreshing in summer and warming in winter, and I would drink them almost every night if I had the chance. That's why, when I heard about what "Spirit Guide" Nandini Khaund called a "white negroni," I got so excited.

Khaund is the mixer in charge of Cindy's, the rooftop paradise on top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. While most of the attention lately has been on Milk Bar, the intimate Paul McGee-helmed spot off the lobby, the cocktail menu here deserves some serious praise. I expected a trendy rooftop bar to serve mostly vodka-sodas, but Khaund's menu reads like an ancient apothecary shop sign, and her cocktails are filled with strange ingredients, infusions, teas and potions. There's a whole selection of mocktails, for the non-drinkers.

This drink, called the Aegean Sea, is slightly yellow but otherwise completely clear, which makes the complex, bitter taste a total surprise. It's the cocktail cognitive dissonance equivalent of pepsi clear, which I mean as a compliment.

"Spirit guide" Nandini Khaund. Photo by Neil Burger.

Khaund is particular proud of the inclusion of mugolio pine sap, an obscure ingredient made from italian pine buds and sourced from Rare Tea Cellar which gives the drink a vegetal edge and compliments the juniper in the gin. There's a hint of rhum agricole for richness, a bit of gentiane for bitterness and, just to mix things up, some caper leaves.

If you're hosting a New Year's party, give this a try (even if you can't find the pine sap) or head to Cindy's the next time the snow starts to come down for a beautiful evening.

The Aegean Sea
Courtesy of Nandini Khaund

1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
.5 oz Salers Gentiane
.25 oz Dolin Dry
1 Barspoon Mugolio Pine Sap
Mist of St. George Rhum Agricole
Santorini Caper Leaf

Mist a glass with St. George Rhum Agricole (or rinse with 1/8 oz). Place the caper leaf in the bottom of the glass. In a mixing glass, combine the Plymouth, Salers, Dolin Dry and Pine Sap. Add ice and stir just enough to incorporate and chill the drink without too much dilution- you want to maintain a nice, silky mouthfeel.