Build a Better Bar Cart: Drink it! Sicilian Cowboy


When at a bar, I make it habit try the unusual cocktail, ask the bar tender the cocktail question du jour (what IS the difference between yellow and green chartreuse?), and always leave with a recommendation for something new. This curiosity is the likely root cause for the entire Build a Better Bar Cart series and my ever expanding repertoire of cocktails.

So imagine my excitement when I recently found myself seated next to a sommelier during a wine tasting. Fine wine, excellent conversation, and a captive audience. Mr. Brendan Draper, sommelier at Pain D'Avignon in Hyannis, clued me in to the rise of the Amaro, an Italian digestif and the featured ingredient in the recipe he graciously supplied. 

Amaro (Italian for bitter) comes in many shapes, sizes, and flavor profiles. It is often bitter, can be slightly sweet, and clocks in with a moderate alcohol content. Brendan recommends using Averna for this cocktail, a medium style Amaro, that wont overpower a cocktail like the stronger varietals (such as Fernet). 

Fair warning, the Schoharie Mapple Jack (a maple syrup infused apple brandy) turned out to be a little harder to track down, so I substituted Green Mountain Organic Maple Liqueur, sourced from Bin Ends locally, to equally tasty results. I also finally just tracked down Luxardo cherries.....worth their weight in maraschino gold, but was able to create a version of my own by soaking dried cherries in Luxardo for a few hours.

The final result? A complex cocktail that was equal parts bitter, sweet, and maple, hitting all taste buds with equal delight.

PS- I received my first bottle of Amaro as a house warming gift and I am going to replicate this idea, giving bottles away myself as host/hostess gifts this holiday season. 


Sicilian Cowboy

1 ½ oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey

1 ½ oz. Schoharie Mapple Jack

¾ oz. Averna Amaro

2 Dashes of Reagans Orange Bitters

Build in shaker and stir. Strain into Lowball and serve down over Luxardo cherries.


Recipe courtesy of Brendan Draper, Bar Manager & Sommelier, Pain D'Avignon. 


Check out other posts in the Build a Better Bar Cart Series:


Build a Better Bar Cart

Build a Better Bar Cart: Stock it

Build a Better Bar Cart: Drink it! Maple Bourbon Cider

Build a Better Bar Cart: Ginger and Mint Simple Syrup

Build a Better Bar Cart: Drink it! Fall in a Champagne Flute



Bon Voyage: Destination St. John


St. John did not disappoint this year. Such a small island, so much to do.

Or not to do.

Husband and I stayed at the same villa this year, the stunning Island Manor. I love having a home base while on vacation, a full kitchen, and a fully stocked bar of our own. Island Manor is a luxurious home away from home.

Our main objective while in St. John? Hit the beaches and relax.

Maho beach, my favourite, where we saw a deer running down the sand, a baby lemon shark patrolling his new turf, a wily mongoose, and rays upon rays in its clear blue water. Salt Pond, and Vie's private beach (on the East end of the island near Coral Bay) were a nice change of pace, though Salt Pond involved quite the hike to access the bay. Once we reached Salt Pond we snorkelled, took in giant sea turtles, and schools of exotic fish.  Definitely head there early in the day to score a spot in the shade. Also on our list, Honeymoon beach, where they have a small diner and rentals of paddle boards and kayaks, the secluded Solomon, a small hike away, and Cinnamon Beach. 

We took a day away from St. John's beaches and ventured to Jost van Dyke in the BVI's via ferry, where we docked at the Soggy Dollar Bar (park your boat, swim in and indulge in the original painkiller) and Foxy's for cocktails and lunch. Soggy Dollar Bar was packed, likely matching Jost van Dyke's total permanent population of 200, on a daily basis. Hard to believe this tiny, sleepy island is the host to one of the biggest New Year's Eve parties on the planet. 

I should note, we hiked a few gorgeous trails during our stay and made passing attempts at staying in shape, or at least burn off a few rum cocktails. 

Well, maybe it wasn't just rum cocktails we needed to burn off. We had some delicious dining indulgences during our stay. The Mr. and I trekked out to Morgan's Mango, two for one margarita night (duh).  It was hard to choose between lobster night and two for one margarita night, but we rose to the challenge. The BBQ at Uncle Joe's did not disappoint, with orders so large husband and I split a plate of ribs, macaroni salad and slaw. Uncle Joe's BBQ is cooked on the sidewalk, guests dine next door on the covered patio, and take in the bustle of Cruz Bay while the eat. A twisty drive to the East end of the island brought us by Skinny Legs, where we ducked into the shaded bar, chowed on burgers and tried every variety of hot sauce available, including a house made smoky chipotle, bottled up in a recycled patron bottle. My favourite was the epic fried garlic chicken at Vie's Snack Shack, where Vie and her daughter cook everything to order. We washed down herb flecked conch fritters and johnny cakes with cold beer after a day at the beach. And then walked across the street to the beach, Vie's private beach, where you can gain access for a few dollars. It is well worth the price of admission, small, secluded and pristine. Last but not least, the cafe at the airport. Yes, even the airport food is quite good. After check in, we b-lined for the cafe, grabbed a few cocktails, and indulged in rich oxtail stew, roast chicken, and beef filled johnny cakes while we waited to depart. 

My beach reading list: The Night Circus, The Family Fang, and The Twelve, the fabulous follow-up to The Passage by Justin Cronin. A fanciful love story, a dysfunctional family of performance artists, and a tense post apocalyptic vampire-esque thriller....pretty much covered all genres in the week.

For more reading and guides to St John, check out St. John Off the Beaten Path and Fodor's US and Virgin Islands.

Finally, last year's adventures here.


Two Tickets to Paradise


Above: Corey Lynn Calter jumpsuit (check out the sale at CLC, tons of fun tropical goodies!), Erotokritos sandals, West Elm clutch, coral necklace lovingly made by my mom, Rayban sunglasses


If you are looking for tropical paradise, St. John has you covered. 

Sun, sand, rum cocktails. Snorkeling, hiking, sunning.  That pretty much sums it up! 

I stocked up on tropical goodies before the trip at Anthropologie (on sale!). Scored this Corey Lynn Calter jumpsuit for a song. It is sold out at Anthro but you should check out the sale at CLC's site right now, tons of tropical wares at great prices.


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