The charity event and all-star chef cookout L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade, which raised more than $700,000 for childhood cancer research in 2014, is hands-down one of the most anticipated food events of the year. Not only are the best Angeleno (and beyond) chefs and restaurants showcased in a beautiful and casual setting, but drink options for discerning drinkers are bountiful and stellar. And I’m not just talking wine. This was where you saw Eric Alperin of the Varnish using a chainsaw just to cut ice for his cocktails. Where you enjoyed cocktails by Cure bartender Neal Bodenheimer, all the way from New Orleans.
And for the 2015 event, which takes place in UCLA this Saturday, bartenders like Matthew Biancaniello, Christiaan Rollich, and Eric Alperin are once again sating the thirsty masses with their own special brand of awesome. Included in this year’s roster of mixologists is The Corner Door’s Beau du Bois, Eater LA’s 2014 bartender of the year.
Beau wanted to craft a cocktail with “a good Corner Door fingerprint” (and also show off a little) so he took a chance and created a Negroni variation. It’s a pretty dicey proposition considering the classic cocktail’s polarizingly healthy use of Campari, a strong bittersweet amaro. However, the Negroni is considered the elixir of life in the food and cocktail world. Just ask Anthony Bourdain. Bartenders even dedicated an entire week to it. And the Negroni variation is Beau’s forte. His Taco Truck cocktail, a Negroni with mezcal and pineapple and cinnamon-infused Campari first created for Art Beyond the Glass II in 2013, is still haunting cocktail geeks’ dreams.
For L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade, which this year boasts chefs like Ludo Lefebvre, Scott Conant, and Roy Choi, the Negroni made sense. “This is a big, big chef event, food lover event, cocktail lover event. It’s friends of bartenders. It’s A LOT of friends of chefs. I just kept thinking…I would love to do a Negroni,” Beau says. And besides, the cocktail is ideal for both stimulating palates and soothing stomachs, especially during an afternoon of feasting. But Beau still wanted to make the cocktail appealing to the uninitiated so he infused the Campari with grapefruit and mint. “Infusing it with the skin of a grapefruit and mint really brightens it up and takes a little bit of the sharp edges off and makes it very refreshing,” he explains. The cocktail itself is conducive to easy drinking. “And for everyone who loves Negroni there are the flavors there that are nostalgic and familiar.”
For those who want to pre-game for the event this Saturday, Beau was gracious enough to share his recipe.
by Beau du Bois of The Corner Door
1 oz St. George Botanivore Gin
1 oz Grapefruit & Mint Infused Campari*
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Combine all ingredients in an iced-filled mixing glass. Stir until chilled and serve over crushed ice.
* Grapefruit & Mint Infused Campari: Per liter of Campari add 20 sprigs of mint that you’ve gently pressed to express (not muddle). Add the peels of two grapefruits, also gently expressed. Let them sit in the Campari for four hours, gently stirring four times an hour. Strain, bottle, and enjoy.