House Mix

Wrestling with the Tiki-Aperitif

To execute most recipes in a classic cocktail manual, you need a mixing tin, citrus and booze. Today, recipes are more complicated: Rife with foraged produce and bitters that take months to craft, they’re not exactly user-friendly. Enter Wine & Spirits’ House Mix: a collection of recipes and tips for the easy-to-replicate drinks that professional bartenders make at home.

Vince Toscano

Vince Toscano bartends at Rye, a cocktail and whiskey bar that opened in 2006 in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, when the neighborhood was anything but tender. He named this drink the Sharpshooter “in honor of my favorite wrestler, Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart,  whose motto is: ‘The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be.’ [Ed. note: the Sharpshooter is a pro wrestling move for which Hart was famous.] This is a party drink. I have a picture in my head: Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’ is playing and I’m waltzing by, topping people off, cracking terrible ‘dad’ jokes, and everyone’s having a great time.”


Vince Toscano’s Sharpshooter

Ingredients —

2 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum Syrup
½ ounce Aperol
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 sprig of mint

Instructions —

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker and add a few cubes of ice. Shake for a quick eight to ten seconds and “dirty dump,” pouring all the contents (including ice) straight into a highball glass, without straining. Garnish with a sprig of mint.


Gin-Tiki?

"It’s a Tiki aperitif-style cocktail. I don’t even know if that category exists. Other than the Singapore Sling, the gin Tiki drink doesn’t exist. To me, Tiki represents something refreshing, something different than the sweet Tiki drinks everyone knows. It has all the elements of Tiki: the mint, the color of the drink, pineapple. It’s a complex cocktail you could drink at any time."


Bitter standards

"Tanqueray is my idea of a London dry; it’s a standard that is not going to get lost in the ingredients, because it has a strong enough profile. Aperol is so much more approachable than Campari. It’s the baby steps to drinking Campari."


Gum that binds

"Everything is better with pineapple gum. It adds that delicate sweetness that doesn’t overpower the cocktail, giving it that rich texture that holds it together. You could try pineapple juice and sugar, but the gum is way more harmonious."


Need for speed

"This drink is going to dilute quickly with regular ice; get it to your guest fast."


Pitching for pitchers

"Every drink I create, I try to make pitcher-friendly. Why make one when you can make 20? Just multiply and stir."

This recipe is a W&S web exclusive.