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Drink Of The Week: Riviera, two ways

Sometimes I feature classics, sometimes a riff, and once in a while it's an exotic Tiki. There's not really a pattern to the Drinks Of The Week here at Summit Sips, but I do think it's important to understand classic recipes and techniques. Over the past year or so, some of the recipes (including a few that don't fall upon a Thursday) required a little more preparation to pull them together. Such cases usually involved preparing some homemade ingredient. That can mean making a better version of something you can find on shop shelves, or  sometimes it's an opportunity to create your own version of an ingredient that's impossible to find anywhere. This week, I want to feature a recipe that relies upon a basic infusion for the base spirit. It's the Riviera cocktail by Toby Maloney, a popular favorite from The Violet Hour.

I don't see the Riviera on the menu anymore at The Violet Hour in Chicago, nor does it appear to be at the Bradstreet Crafthouse right here in Minneapolis. I tried checking The Patterson House in Nashville, another location featuring Toby's inspirations, but I failed to find their menu online. So, I decided it's time to enjoy this cocktail at home now that it's getting harder to find someone to make it for you.

This drink ranks pretty high among my favorites, but as I mentioned, it requires a little planning for you to setup the alcohol infusion. Fortunately, this infusion only needs to go overnight. The Riviera derives it's delicious flavor from a wonderful combination of pineapple, gin, Campari and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur. You need a fresh pineapple which should be pretty easy to obtain. Pineapples don't ripen, so look for one that is gold as opposed to green. They are often picked before they are ripe because unripe pineapples are less fragile when shipping. Select only the golden, ripest ones if you have a choice. The bottom should also smell sweet, not fermented. If you don't eat it immediately, store it in the refrigerator.

Pineapple Infused Gin
1 cup flavorful gin (such as Beefeater)
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
.5 cup maraschino liqueur
.25 cup Campari

Place the pineapple chunks into a jar with the gin, Campari and Maraschino and seal. Shake the jar several times over 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld. Strain, pressing the pineapple chunks to extract the juice and discard the solids (or eat them).

Get yourself a pineapple and cut it up. I like to use the core sections of the fruit for this. In a good pineapple they have plenty of flavor, and since I normally toss the cores into the compost, this is a great place to use them up. Besides, I get about a cup or more of fresh core pieces from a small pineapple. Combine all of this in a jar and shake it often for 24 hours. The result will be a wonderful pink gin cocktail, but we aren't done yet.

Riviera by Toby Maloney
2 oz pineapple-infused gin (see above)
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz simple syrup (1:1)
1 egg white
1 mint leaf (garnish)
orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a shaker, mime shake (without ice) for 30 seconds or so, add ice and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and carefully garnish with a mint leaf. Finally, drop orange bitters onto the surface of the meringue.

With this infusion, you should be able to make six or seven finished cocktails. Everyone that I have made this drink for has absolutely loved it. Yeah, it's a gin drink, and yeah, it has egg white, but the results are amazing. With just a little planning, you can be drinking one of these this weekend!

A frothy drink like this one, served up, with orange and mint on the nose and the bittersweet and sour pineapple intensity on the tongue is an experience that is well worth the effort. But I was curious if I could make a similar version in less time using pineapple juice instead of making an infusion. With more liquid stretching the flavor, I thought I should change it up a bit, so I transformed it into a Collins-style variation, using less simple syrup and opting for sparkling water instead of egg white. I think it turned out great, but sipping them side by side, I definitely prefer the original. Give the Riviera a try!

Riviera Collins
1.5 oz gin
1 oz pineapple juice
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz maraschino liqueur
.25 oz Campari
.25 oz simple syrup (1:1)
2 dashes orange bitters
top with sparkling water

Add all but the sparkling water to a mixing glass. Shake with ice, then strain over fresh ice in a tall glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with a sprig of mint.

5 comments to Drink Of The Week: Riviera, two ways

  • James R. Coplin

    After infusing the gin and straining, how hard do you press the pineapple? Just enough to get the liquor out without making it cloudy or do you squeeze on the pinapple enough to get as much of the juice out by basically pulping it?

    • That's a really good question. Toby wrote "force strain through a fine chinois or strainer" when he first documented the recipe. To me, that sounds like pulping it, or at least juicing it, but I never have done that. I often use the pineapple cores for my infusion which tends to be a bit more than I need for the batches I make, so I think I am getting enough flavor, and pulping cores would be problematic. Still, if you really do it right, you probably end up with a much more intense flavor. I wish I had a chance to try the real deal before it dropped from the seasonal menus, but I do know this: it's going to be good either way! Let me know what you do and how it turns out.

    • By the way, what are you making with all of your LH151?

  • James R. Coplin

    I think I'll treat it like my falernum I make. Enough pressure to get most of the good stuff out but not so much as to create a bunch of solids. Lastly, you think this is best in more of a straight gin like Plymouth, Old Raj or something more floral like Tanq Ten, Miller's?

    • I used Beefeater. More is more. These are strong flavors and the magic lift from a bold gin doesn't hurt this recipe one bit. I love Plymouth, but it could get lost in here.

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