Editor’s Note: In time for New Year’s celebrations around the world, mixologist and bar manager Julian Biondi of Italy’s MAD Souls & Spirits shares with us a modern cocktail that—like most things created in Florence—is nothing short of a work of art. It’s no wonder Biondi found inspiration for his drink’s name in the city’s Renaissance roots.
“Chi vuol esser lieto, sia: del doman non v’è certezza” is a saying attributed to Lorenzo il Magnifico, a fifteenth century Florentine statesman, politico and patron of the Renaissance. Loosely translated, the saying means: “Have fun tonight; you don’t know what to expect from tomorrow.”
Although we never know how the night is going to end, New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to enjoy something we don’t consume every day—so champagne has to be part of our celebratory drink. We also need a spirit to guide us through the night; it should be special, perhaps rare, and has to walk side by side by with the aromatic, bready notes of the golden sparkling wine. That’s why I chose Polugar No. 10 Old Russian Gin.
In keeping with tradition, we think an Italian touch is always a good idea; that’s why a few drops come from a Florentine liqueur dating back to the fifteenth century (around Magnifico’s time). Alkermes di Santa Maria Novella was a favorite of the Medici family; an aromatic infused with spices such as cloves, cinnamon and saffron, it is a beautiful blend of history and flavor.
- 40 ml (1 ⅓ ounce) Polugar No. 10 Gin
- 1 bar spoon of Alkermes di Santa Maria Novella*
- 25 ml (.85 ounce) lemon juice
- 15 ml (.5 ounce) Gunpowder syrup**
- Topper of champagne
- Optional: A spoon of egg white for a creamy texture
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and serve neat in a chilled cocktail glass.
* If unavailable, this can be omitted, or substituted with a few drops of Peychaud’s Bitters
** “Gunpowder is a variety of green tea, and is quite easy to find,” says Biondi.
To make the syrup: Prepare 1 liter of tea in a saucepan. When warm and ready, add 1 kg of sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Let syrup stand for 20 minutes until room temperature.