When the Violet Hour opened 15 years ago, it was one of the first spots in Chicago to serve craft cocktails (and really good ones at that). Now its head mixologist, Toby Maloney, has published The Bartender’s Manifesto: How to Think, Drink, and Create Cocktails Like a Pro, which aims to share the tricks and secrets that make the Violet Hour’s drinks so quaffable. A collaboration with the Violet Hour bartenders and area cocktail writer Emma Janzen, the book is “about understanding what makes a good drink and then using that knowledge to create drinks of your own,” Maloney says.
That means learning the sweetness scale so you can decide whether simple syrup or grenadine is the right choice for your drink, and determining the proper kind of shake or stir for your cocktail. The book also contains recipes to practice your skills. To make the summer-ready Polka Dot Negroni (so named for the cherry garnish), you’ll need to employ the “coupe stir,” in which the drink is perfectly diluted before you pour it into the glass — you can do a straw test, just like your favorite bartender, to be sure.
Polka Dot Negroni
|Junipero gin (or other high-proof gin such as Perry’s Tot)
|Bittercube Jamaican No. 2 grapefruit bitters (optional)
Combine the first four ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass and garnish with a cherry. Finish by expressing a lemon peel over the top. (“It should shimmer and have a floating rainbow in the right light,” Maloney says.)