Alright y’alllllllll. Hot on the heels of Tiki The Snow Away comes my newest obsession: “Low-Proof February.” I think this is funny cause Tiki The Snow Away was my visceral reaction to the incredibly heavy and rich drinks we have during december (I’m looking at you Egg Nog!) and now Low-Proof February is my reaction to having so many overproof Rums in Tiki drinks. Ahhhh, it’s a silly world we live in.
So, y’all probably have questions. Questions like, “why are there so many bottles of fortified wine n such on your table gurrrrrl?” I’ll answer you with another question: What has an ABV lower than 20% and still has tons of flavor? Fortified wine, that’s what.
The goal of Low-Proof February is to use all of the things you have in the Aperitif & Digestif category as the main ingredients and to use Spirits as modifiers. Think of it as making inverted cocktails. For example: You’re could to use 2 oz of Vermouth and maybe just 1/2 an ounce of Brandy.
Here’s a really good example of what I’m talking about. This drink is still very satisfying because Atxa Vermouth Amurrio is herbaceous, fruity, wonderful in a spritz, and a good Armagnac has tons of flavor even when used in small amounts.
- 2 oz Atxa Amurrio Vino Vermouth
- 1/2 oz Chateau de Laubade VSOP Bas Armagnac
- Soda Water
- Garnish: Lemon Wheel
Combine ingredients in double rocks glass, add ice, top with Soda water, and garnish.
Here’s another example that I made while at work at Duke’s Liquor Box. It’s a take on an Americano (Campari, Vermouth, Soda Water) where I used the brand-new-made-in-Brooklyn Forthave Spirits RED Aperitivo in place of Campari and Cocchi Rosa in place of Vermouth.
The Red Rosa
- 1 1/2 oz Forthave Spirits Red Aperitivo
- 1 1/2 oz Cocchi Rosa Aperitivo
- Soda Water
- Garnish: Orange wedge
Combine ingredients in double rocks glass, add ice, stir briefly, and garnish.
Here is some inspiration for other low-proof ingredients: Tawny Port, Amontillado Sherry, and War + Rust (a Quinquina made in the USA and fairly similar to Byrrh Aperitif).
Now for those of you who are like, “Girrrrrrl, I can’t handle only drinking Aperitivi/Digestivi for a month”, you could make yourself a Highball with Japanese Whisky or some other kind of light and wonderful Whisky.
Akashi White Oak Highball
- 1 1/2 oz Akashi White Oak Japanese Whisky
- 7 drops Scrappy’s Celery Bitters
- Soda Water
- No garnish
The instructions for how to make a proper Japanese Highball are somewhat complicated because in Japan, cocktail making is treated more like a tea ceremony. I do not purport to be an expert on how to make a proper Japanese Highball but here is roughly how to do it:
- Use a chilled glass and carefully add ice so it stacks properly
- Pour 1 1/2 oz Japanese Whisky down the side of the glass, making sure not to get any Whisky on the top of the ice.
- Pour Soda water down the side of the glass, again making sure not to get any on the top of the ice, until there is approximately 1/4″ space left at the top of the glass.
- Put a long barspoon down the side of the glass and swizzle until you have combined the ingredients and created a bit of a frothy head at the top of the glass.
- Serve immediately with a straw.
In the case of this particular Highball, I’d recommend adding the bitters before adding the soda water.
Well that’s it! May your Low-Proof February be satisfying and creatively inspiring! I’ll be posting most of my recipes on Instagram, feel free to follow along there.