“The idea was to create a softer Negroni based on the famous pignoli cookie from Sicily,” says Wild Blue’s bar manager, Zack Lavoie. He first tasted these pine nut and almond cookies 10 years ago in Italy, and thought they were fantastic. “A few years back I tried infusing gin with pine nuts, but it lacked flavour,” recalls Lavoie, who previously tended bar at Vancouver’s The Keefer Bar and The Diamond. When developing Wild Blue’s cocktail menu, he was inspired to incorporate pine nuts again, and the Negroni seemed like the right call. Getting it right was another story.
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Wild Blue’s Negroni Pinoli, with The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, Select Aperitivo and Martini Rosso vermouth, is like a grownup Sicilian pignolo cookie.
First, he infused the gin, then the aperitivo and then the vermouth, using different techniques. “None gave the flavours I wanted, so I threw them all together and thought, ‘I’ll just cook 'em and see what happens.’” It worked. The pine nut infusion is made by lightly toasting pine nuts then combining all the cocktail ingredients in a vacuum–sealed bag and cooking it sous–vide for two hours; just enough time to pull the flavours and oil from the pine nuts. It makes for the smoothest–ever Negroni with a sweet, toasty taste and a hint o’ lemon. Not only is it totally delicious, but as the giant ice cube melts away in the Schott Zwiesel rocks glass, so do most of your worries.