By Ed Sikov
“What about ‘The Burnt Orange?'” Dan was trying to be helpful, but I bit his head off. “That’s the ugliest Crayola color ever!” I shouted. “Readers will think I’m either color blind or have no taste.” “Well,” Dan drawled, indicating his belief that two can play at whatever wretched mind game I was instigating. “Watch it!” I snapped. “You’re inching perilously close to the edge of….” “Of what?” he demanded, getting in my face and throwing his shoulders back as though preparing for combat. “Of “this”!” I cried as I jabbed at his waist with my fingertips and began to tickle him mercilessly.
“Stop!” he begged, but I refused his order. Tickling Dan is one of my favorite pastimes, never so much as when I’m slightly irritated with him. He tried to pry my poking fingers away from his midsection, but I was in for the kill. Why was I so annoyed with him? He’d been perfectly pleasant all afternoon. He was heaving great, helpless breaths by this point, and he looked so totally beaten that I began to feel sorry for him and suddenly quit. “OK, I win,” I said in a desultory manner and turned around toward the counter, where my drink ingredients were still standing. I immediately felt two forefingers plunging into my ribs and my knees getting suddenly weak. “No!” I yelled vainly. “I won. You can’t do this. It’s not fair.” I was laughing in that desperate, mirthlessly tickled way. “All’s fair in love and war,” Dan said with a commanding edge to his voice. I was immediately turned on, went limp and fell back against him.
We resumed our cocktail naming contest after about 20 minutes, by which point we were each wearing only our briefs, which we had picked up from the hall floor on the way back to the kitchen. I wasn’t annoyed with him anymore, nor he with me. No sireee, not at all.
“What about ‘The Bitter Orange?'” This was my make-nice suggestion, and it was genuine. After his winner-take-all performance in the sack, he’d earned my obedience.
“That’s not bad,” he acknowledged, nuzzling my neck from behind.
“OK, then. It’s settled. We’re dubbing this ‘The Bitter Orange.'” I poured one for him and one for me, we clinked glasses, took our sips and finished off with a kiss.
“What,” you are no doubt fuming, “is the frigging drink?” It’s simple and easy and elegant, and if you go ahead and make a couple of them, you’ll forgive my coy introduction.
It’s an Aperol and Absolut cocktail I made up after realizing that I didn’t want to spend my entire bottle of Aperol on “I Sorpassi,” or “Above and Beyonds,” the subject of my last column. The “Above and Beyond” is a marvelous drink, but sometimes one is in the mood for a less complex cocktail. I reasoned that the addition of Aperol to a fine glass of Absolut would benefit both: the Absolut would be faintly flavored, and the Aperol would be fortified. Boy was I ever right! And the color is phenomenal! You can make this drink with Campari, too, with much the same result, only redder.
The Bitter Orange
3 parts Absolut premium vodka
1 part Aperol, an Italian bitter orange aperitif, or Campari, a similar Italian herbal concoction
Pour both ingredients into a glass filled with ice and stir. It doesn’t get any easier than this.