The cocktail for Il Tabarro is, I think, the most interesting and successful of the three drinks we have created for Opera Holland Park’s season-opener, Il Trittico (not one opera but three one-acters and therefore quite the opera cocktail challenge – cheers, Puccini).
The Tabarro is weighted in French pastis which is both refreshing and refreshingly different on the palate. It is stirred over ice with vermouth and amaretto; then finished with soda water to open up the flavours and bring balance. Whole star anise as a garnish is hard to beat for simple beauty. Here it handily doubles as a warning to all who approach as to what flavours this cocktail has in store.
We based it on a 1920’s Parisian ‘Left-Bank Spine Stiffener’ absinthe and vermouth cocktail found in Charles H Baker Jr.’s book, Jigger, Beaker & Glass. Something you can definitely imagine the stevedores of Il Tabarro were taking a sip or two of as they worked the barges of the Seine in the early hours.
Our pastis takes the place of the Stiffener’s asbinthe, but it is the addition of the amaretto which makes this cocktail a surprising pleasure to drink – even for those who claim not to like anise. The almond flavours smooth out the anise’s rough edges into a very happy partnership.
The Tabarro – makes 2 drinks
150ml soda water
2 whole star anise
Stir the pastis, vermouth and amaretto together over ice. Strain into two chilled glasses and add 75ml soda water to each. Stir gently. Place the star anise on top.