Friday-Night Special


When my husband turned 50 a few years ago, he decided it was time to own martini glasses. I’m not sure what prompted this whim—we didn’t drink martinis—but I’m guessing that the cocktail symbolized something to him, perhaps a (belated) passage into the world of the grownup. He invested in Riedel glasses, a sleek Art Deco cocktail shaker, and some pricey gin and vermouth.

I think we had martinis twice before acknowledging that we didn’t really like them. We’re wine drinkers. But with so much invested, he had to find another use for his paraphernalia. So he began playing around with the notion of a wine-based aperitif.

His best experiment was a concoction we christened the “Rosebud.” It has become our ritual Friday-night aperitif, unless we’re not at home. And sometimes we finagle a Rosebud even then.

The drink appeals to our mutual appreciation for bitter flavors and our desire to have a pre-dinner beverage that is neither as inebriating as a cocktail nor as sweet as most mixed drinks. The Rosebud looks like a Cosmopolitan, but it’s a more sophisticated drink. Or so we think.

The recipe: Four ounces dry white wine (something unoaked, like Sauvignon Blanc). One ounce Campari. Shaken with ice, then strained into a chilled martini glass with an orange twist.

One Friday evening, when we were waiting for a table at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, we asked the bartender if he would make our special drink. “Aha! Una Bicicletta!” he announced when we gave him the recipe. Apparently our original drink was well known in Italy (by the peculiar name of “Bicycle,”), although I have never found another Italian who has heard of it.

To date, our most exotic and expensive Rosebud was enjoyed at a grand hotel in Dalat, Vietnam. Realizing that it was Friday night, we somehow conveyed the proper ratio to the non-English speaking bartender. His effort came close, and we were elated to be savoring Rosebuds in such a faraway place, until the bill came. He had charged us for two drinks each: one glass of white wine, and one glass of Campari.

That costly cocktail shaker has now mixed a few hundred Rosebuds and has earned its keep. But one of these days, we need to find a home for that gin.