You can take the bartender out of the bar, but can you take the bar-inspired creativity out of the bartender? Of course you can’t. Certainly not when it comes to Shelter Island’s own Harry Brigham.
Brigham logged a couple of decades behind the stick at storied local spots, like the Chequit, the Ram’s’ Head Inn, and the Goat Hill Country Club among others. And it was during all those hours shaking and stirring that Brigham developed a love for the New American style of gin.
“I’m a big gin drinker, and I’ve found that the juniper doesn’t always have to be the most upfront note. In modern gins, it’s in the background and tends to showcase other botanicals and aromatics in the flavor profile,” says Brigham. “They’re also easier to work with, I think. People can be turned off by gin thinking of the classic London Dry style. [Modern-style gins] open it up to a lot more people able to appreciate my fave spirit!”
Today, Brigham helps curate the spirited selection at East Hampton’s Park Place Wines & Liquors, and the gin he keeps returning to for mixing is from the Netherlands, Bobby’s Schiedam Dry Gin, with its East-meets-West intriguing mix of lemongrass, cubeb pepper, clove, coriander, fennel and cinnamon among the botanicals, which inspired his most recent creation, the Earl of Bergamot cocktail.
“I’m a huge Earl Grey tea fan, it’s that bergamot flavor I really enjoy,” he says of the bitter citrus fruit influence in the tea. It’s a note that lead him to a love for the Italian liqueur, Italicus Rosolio de Bergamotto, a versatile aperitivo that, he says, adds a beautiful pop of brightness to gin and vodka-based cocktails, including the Earl of Bergamot.
The final bit in the mix: Raleigh-based producer Crude’s “Rizzo” bitters, a mix of grapefruit, rosemary and peppercorn. “That little bit of grapefruit gives a bright bump to the drink,” he says, “the rosemary adds a savory note and peppercorn provides spice. It hits on all those big flavors that excite me.”
The Earl of Bergamot
- 2 1/2 oz Bobby's Schiedam Dry Gin
- 1 oz Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto Liqueur
- 2-3 dashes Crude "Rizzo" Bitters
- 1 rosemary sprig or wide lemon peel for garnish