Christopher Ciesiel isn’t big on foams. His recently opened West Bottoms cocktail bar, The Campground, focuses on relatively simple drinks (by today’s cocktail standards) done very well with unique blends of spirits. The Big Iron, a drink that he anticipates being one of their most popular, is a riff on a Rosita, which is itself a riff on a negroni.
The negroni flavor blend is a classic—bitter, sweet, and strong— so it’s a great place to start. The Rosita replaces gin with tequila but keeps the vermouth and Campari elements. The Big Iron starts with reposado tequila but adds a whisper of mescal as well and a blend of four different brands of vermouth, two dry and two sweet. Instead of the fruity boldness of Campari, he chooses to go a more vegetal route with Cynar 70 proof, an amaro that harnesses the subtle sweetness of artichokes.
The resulting drink, named for a track of the same name on Marty Robbins’ country classic album, The Gunslinger’s Ballads and Trail Songs, is balanced and ever so slightly smoky from the mescal. Since mescal can quickly overwhelm a drink, the smidge included here is perfect, like the wisp of smoke from the Gunslinger’s weapon of choice, a .45 Colt. With the Cynar bringing up the rear, this cocktail will take you to the desert and back again with the herbal flavors of amari singing with the pure agave. It’s a perfect sipper for a night of stories by the fire.
THE BIG IRON
1.5 oz. Tequila Ocho reposado tequila
.25 oz. Bozal Cuixe mescal
.75 oz. blended dry vermouth (such as Noilly Prat Extra Dry and Dolin Blanc)
.75 oz blended sweet vermouth (such as Carpano Punt e Mes and Dolin Rouge)
.5 oz Cynar 70 Proof
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir until cold with a bar spoon and strain into a rocks glass over cubed ice. To finish, twist a strip of orange peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.