Tucked between the pages of Adam Ford’s loving history and guidebook Vermouth, this amazing drink skillfully balances a fruity and refreshing profile with ingredients as crisp and wintry as a pale November day. And while we don’t really keep an archive of best-named cocktails, this one would be on it. It sports a keenly poetic epithet—one that references both the color of the drink as well as the light seen in early winter: the kind where the sun is low and the sky is dressed in a cool pale blue. With a finer vermouth this drink can be simply magical, harboring a personality that perfectly accompanies long dinners and holiday toasts.
The pale end of the day resides in a rare category of vermouth-centric cocktails. This particular recipe is built around blanc vermouth and works by combining that ingredient’s fruity and mild bittersweetness with fragrant pear. It’s a simple one-two punch that is endlessly drinkable and visually stunning, flashing a color that emulates the meat of the pear that floats inside it. The drink smells mostly like vermouth, with subtle notes of pear and a little spice for those who choose a spiced pear liqueur. The sip is sweet, sour, and engaging on the front of the tongue from the vermouth. It finishes with pear and herbs from the vermouth, followed by a little heat at the end and a lingering sweetness.
As aforementioned, this drink is built around blanc vermouth and shines brightest when built around a carefully chosen variety of high quality. We absolutely love Del Professore Classic Bianco Vermouth in this recipe. It’s a bit more expensive, but undoubtedly worth it. In the same way that a quality whiskey makes an old-fashioned, the expressiveness of this bottle carries the drink beyond a simple two-dimensional affair. The original recipe calls for vodka, but we prefer it with gin; as we found the abrasiveness of vodka distracted a bit from the drink’s delicate flavors. We employ a gin with a clean, martini-oriented profile that isn’t juniper heavy and lies closer to vodka on the spectrum. We used St. George’s spiced pear liqueur in this drink and it was magnificent, but a classic pear liqueur will work just as well. The original recipe specifies to “stir until almost freezing” which is a strange request, as it is physically impossible to freeze a drink while stirring. We rounded down and stirred the drink until the mixing glass became frosty on the sides before serving it into a chilled glass.