Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gran Classico - Where Have You Been All of My Life?

Have you heard of Gran Classico? If you are a cocktail devotee you probably have. I hadn't heard of until recently, and it is a new love. Gran Classico is a bitter liqueur in the same family as Campari and it can be used exactly as Campari is used, for example the Negroni cocktail, the spritz, or simply mixed with soda water on ice. Gran Classico is actually made in Switzerland, as the formula was purchased in 1925 by a Swiss family of distillers.

Although both are bitter (and also quite sweet) liqueurs, there are a few things that differentiate Gran Classico from Campari, and make it highly worth your effort to find and taste. For one, Gran Classico is a more complex drink, both on the nose and on the palate. It is made in smaller batches using at least 25 herbs, barks, and roots (including wormwood!), and no red coloring is added. Gran Classico is a bit higher in alcohol at 28% to Campari's 24%. All in all, it's just better as an ingredient or drink than Campari.

Just look at that natural amber color. Enticing, no?

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that a Negroni made with Campari is no good, because that would be absurd. But a Negroni made with Gran Classico is better, in my opinion. And this when I make the drink, not some bearded professional wearing the vest from a 3-piece suit. Imagine how good it would be if such a professional made it. The way in which the marginal benefit of Gran Classico can most clearly be seen, from my few explorations so far, is in the simplest drink, just mixing Gran Classico with soda water on ice. The complexity of Gran Classico really shines through. I won't be buying Campari again.

My Negroni: equal parts Plymouth gin, Dolin sweet Vermouth, and Gran Classico, but a little extra gin should be thrown in. And Peter Liem suggests adding a few dashes of Regan's Orange bitters too, which I must say is delicious.

Gran Classico is imported by the California company Tempus Fugit, and is well worth a special search.


Christopher Ager said...

"I won't be buying Campari again" is a bold statement; I salute you.

Here's me wishing there was a liquor store near me open, so I could go find a bottle.

Do Bianchi said...

I need to try this...

and yes, the Campari declaration is pretty heavy!

Weston said...

And a Negroni made with Antica Vermouth is AMAZING! so Imagine

Antica Vermouth and Gran Classico!

Christopher Ager said...

Where does one find a bottle of this in the boroughs of NYC?

Brooklynguy said...

I found mine at Astor, but there are certainly others who carry it.