Paper Umbrella Optional

One sip of this L'Etoile cocktail and you'll be in paradise

Bare trees, snow flurries, evenings spent huddled near the fire: ah, springtime in Wisconsin. But a summery cocktail can be transportive—one sip, and it’s June.

Just ask Aaron Johnson, lead bartender at L’Etoile. He came up with the Paradisi, a highbrow take on the classic gin-and-lemonade, adding ginger cognac, Meyer lemon bitters, rose water and a caramelized lemon twist. The latter adds a theatrical element to the cocktail’s preparation and makes the bar smell delicious.

That’s deliberate, Johnson says, explaining that cocktails should be “fragrant and have a certain aroma.” In this case, the cognac lends the drink a spicy undertone, and the rose water is a mere whisper. As for the Meyer lemon bitters, home drinkers can find recipes online or, in a pinch, substitute a store-bought variety. Johnson recommends Bittercube bitters—a local favorite, much like L’Etoile.

RECIPE: Paradisi 

1 1/2oz Death’s Door gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger and Cognac Liqueur
2 drams rose water
1/2 dram Meyer lemon bitters (or substitute orange bitters)
Garnish: Caramelized lemon twist

Using sharp paring knife, cut swatch of lemon peel. Light match; hold peel one or two inches above flame, colored side down. Wave peel slowly over flame for about two seconds, then, using forefinger and thumb, twist and squeeze peel over flame. Put out match; drop peel into cocktail glass. Add remaining ingredients to shaker with ice, shake and strain into glass.

Recipe courtesy of L’Etoile
1 S. Pinckney St.
251-0500, letoile-restaurant.com.

Photo by Sarah Smiley.

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