I almost didn’t bother to take a picture of this one, assuming I had long ago discussed the Trident and how it is one of my favorite cocktails, ever, but looking back through my archives I see only one passing mention.  This situation must be immediately remedied.  The Trident is one of the finest drinks I know of, and is a straight-up cocktail that is fully appropriate for the (in Vermont, very slowly) warming weather.

The Trident is a Negroni variation created by Robert Hess, and I came across it in a Cynar feature in Imbibe Magazine.  It calls for peach bitters, an ingredient I’ve never, ever picked up (much less Fee Brothers, which to my palate are intolerably artificial-tasting), but I find that Angostura orange bitters – with their strong, orange-blossom notes recalling some of the peach’s floralness – fit the bill just fine.  Or, you know, any orange bitters.  I think the basic tripartite recipe here is strong enough to stand on its own; the bitters are the metaphorical cherry on top.

This drink also uses sherry, one of my newest passions.  After picking up Victoria Moore’s charming How to Drink on a tip from Rowley’s Whiskey Forge (one of my go-to sources for great books on food and food culture), I found her exegesis on the appeals of sherry impossible to resist.  Since only Lustau is available up here, I can’t claim to be surveying a full range, but just with their Rare Cream, Dry Amontillado, and Palo Cortado I can start to understand the enduring appeal of this particular fortified wine.

The recipe calls for a dry sherry, but make sure to use a sherry with some richness, like a dry amontillado; I think a fino or manzanilla might get lost behind the Cynar and aquavit.  I’ve had success in the past using a sweeter oloroso, but that produces a plusher drink, suitable as a digestif on a cold night.  For summer, make sure that the sherry is dry, and that the stir is plenty long.  This drink demonstrates how refreshing a straight-up, all alcoholic cocktail can be.

Trident (Robert Hess, taken from Imbibe Magazine)

  • 1 oz aquavit (House Krogstad)
  • 1 oz dry sherry (Lustau Dry Amontillado)
  • 1 oz Cynar
  • 2 dashes peach orange bitters (Angostura orange bitters, or Bitter Truth, or Scrappy’s Grapefruit)
    Stir all ingredients with ice, for at least 30 seconds.  Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a twisted lemon peel.

The raisin and caramel notes from the sherry play really well with the caraway in the aquavit.  Hoping to ground my terminology in everyday experience, I’m going to compare it to that sort of overloaded-but-delicious Irish soda-bread, the kind with caraway seeds and raisins (see what I did there?) that you load up with butter for breakfast.  As in a well-made Negroni, the flavors of the Trident merge perfectly, creating a unified impression that doesn’t allow any one element to dominate.  And with that long stir, it’s a surprisingly easy cocktail to gulp down.  Be prepared to make seconds.