Bitter is not a flavor that the American palate particularly enjoys. It is okay once in a great while, or as an accent to some other flavors, but it is rare when it stars on a dish or in a cocktail. That has been changing lately as people are becoming more and more familiar with complex flavors. They add a richness to meals, or drinks, that it is not common to find. The beer community has been contributing to this trend as well. The emergence of the India Pale Ale (IPA), with all of its forward bitter flavor, has been a darling of craft beer drinkers and brewers for several years. Cocktails have been moving in that direction as well, with these complex and herbal liqueurs stepping back into the spotlight in many bars.
In the mid-1990's, when Paul Harrington was behind the stick at the Townhouse Bar & Grill, bitters were not in vogue at all. A bottle of Campari could last infinitely, almost serving as a colorful bar decoration instead of a rich ingredient for cocktails. One of Harrington's creations utilized the iconic spirit, but in an extremely subtle way. The Jasmine strikes a balance between sweet Cointreau and floral gin, with the Campari offering a some subtle background notes. Harrington is considered one of the forefathers of the American craft cocktail scene, starting online cocktail repositories when the internet was a novelty.
The Jasmine (by Paul Harrington)
1.5 oz./ 45 mL gin
.75 oz./ 22 mL lemon juice
.25 oz./ 7 mL Campari
.25 oz./ 7 mL Cointreau
Garnish: Lemon twist
Pour all of the ingredients into a mixing tin. Add ice, and shake for 20-30 seconds, until the mixture is well chilled. Strain into the cocktail glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass then use as a garnish.
There were a few authors that commented that this cocktail was a great way to introduce people to Campari. I would respectfully disagree. The light pink hue it adds to the cocktail may be the most it is expressed. It is there, but with the gin and lemon juice it gets almost completely washed away. This is a lovely cocktail. I love citrus, and this is very citrus forward. The gin adds nice herbal undertones, and the Camapri is there, but only as a hint. Definitely worth adding to your cocktail repertoire.