I love the notion of classic cocktails, especially the Negroni - a perfect marriage of Sweet Italian Vermouth, Campari and Gin - but the reality is, I'm kind of a sissy when it comes to hard liquor.
I prefer the flavour of alcohol to be masked by pretty flavours like elderflower cordial, fresh-squeezed Clementine juice or interesting homemade simple syrups.
And yet, something about old-fashioned classic cocktails calls to me.
So I got to thinking - maybe I could enjoy a Negroni by balancing the dominant alcohol flavour more towards my liking.
A tender poached Bosc pear resting in a pool of dark and rich, sweet and deeply-bitter syrup will give my New Year's Eve table the wow factor I was hoping for.
Negroni Poached Pears
4 small-medium Bosc pears
1 C Sweet Italian Vermouth (aka Red Vermouth)
1 C Campari
1 C Gin
1 C Water
- Alton Brown recommends coring pears from the bottom - do this then cut a thin slice off of the bottom so they'll sit upright when finished poaching - remove skin from pears with a vegetable peeler
- lay whole cored pears on their sides in a small pot that gives them enough room to move around a bit - add Vermouth, Campari, Gin and Water to pot - David Liebovitz recommends cutting a parchment circle to cover pears while poaching - I totally did this and recommend doing it too - bring liquid to a simmer/gentle boil and cook pears 25-30 minutes, maintaining a constant simmer/boil the whole time - I lifted the edge of the parchment every 5 minutes or so and gave the pears a bit of a turn
- gently remove pears from Negroni liquid with a slotted spoon and stand each one upright on a plate - put plate of pears in fridge to cool - turn up heat on liquid to medium-high and boil Negroni syrup down to about 1/2 C, around 30 minutes - pour hot Negroni syrup into a heat-proof vessel (I used a Pyrex measuring cup) and set aside to cool
- serve cooled pears topped with cooled Negroni syrup - if you want to get fancy you could add a dollop of lightly-sweetened whipped cream, a wedge of Clementine for squeezing and a mint leaf