February drinking in Minnesota often leads us down dark alleys into dark basements, drinking dark spirits to soothe our darkening spirits. But this alley behind Dangerous Man Brewing is leading me toward something a little more lighthearted.
“It’s served up, it’s elegant, and has this really pretty color,” says Adam Gorski, pouring a copper-orange drink into one of the mismatched coupe glasses at Young Joni’s Back Bar. “It’s vibrant. I think it tastes like an orchard.”
Each drink on the Back Bar’s new menu is named for a different Minnesota icon, so out-of-towners here for the Big Game can get a sense of our local luminaries. The Walter Mondale was conceived as a variation on the El Presidente cocktail, and would keep you feeling buoyant even in the face of overwhelming electoral defeat.
The overproof apple brandy provides a solid base, and the nuttiness of an oxidized sherry like amontillado makes sure things don’t get too sweet. (If you don’t have a dry Curaçao and you sub in a sweet orange liqueur like triple sec, don’t bother with the extra simple syrup.) And the pear liqueur is a spectacular staple for your own back bar—it mixes effortlessly with gin, bourbon, and brandy.
1½ ounces overproof apple brandy (Laird’s Bonded)
1 ounce amontillado sherry
¾ ounce dry Curaçao
¼ ounce pear liqueur (Mathilde Poire)
¼ ounce demerara simple syrup (1:1, optional, to taste)
a few dashes orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.