The Trident is a cocktail created in 2000 by Robert Hess. Most cocktail history, especially that of the classics, is ambiguous at best, but not this one. Hess wanted a recipe with peach bitters, and came up with a unique take on the Negroni. Instead of gin, Campari, and vermouth, the Trident is made with aquavit, Cynar and sherry. Equal proportions, like a Negroni, only with some peach bitters added for the finishing touch. But what exactly are these ingredients?
In 2000, this would have been an exotic cocktail, Cynar only recently finding an audience in the US, and aquavit still relatively unknown. Sherry, of course, is widely available, but comes with the same problem as vermouth. It’s wine, and it spoils. Treat it like vermouth, keep it in the fridge, drink it fast, and, just as with vermouth, buy small bottles. Cynar is now known well enough, but what is aquavit?
Aquavit is a Scandinavian herbal spirit, similar to gin, but flavored with things such as caraway, dill, fennel, anise, and maybe citrus depending on the distiller. Until recently, aquavit was seldom produced outside of Scandinavia, but small batches are made in other places, including several places in North America. Some of this aquavit comes from House Spirits in Portland, who’s Krogstad Aquavit is one of the most respected, and finest, of the craft bottles. It’s a simple spirit, caraway seeds and anise are the star of the show, and what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in balance and smoothness. Anything more here is unnecessary, and the distiller’s restrained hand proves that many times, with a quality product, less is more.
In a cocktail, the caraway and anise make Krogstad a perfect match for Cynar. As you recall, Cynar is an Italian bitter made from artichokes. There’s a nice flavor to Cynar, and it’s a little less bitter than Campari...no...it’s much less bitter than Campari, but what isn’t? As the bitter in our Trident, it compliments, it doesn’t dominate. The same can be said of the Sherry. Hess specifies “dry sherry,” which leaves some room for choice, or what you have on hand. In our case, a bottle of Lustau Amontillado, which is a perfect stand in for vermouth. Vermouth would get lost in this drink, but the sherry is in excellent choice. Which leaves only the bitters.
Normally we’d reach for Scrappy’s Bitters, however, their peach bitters is no longer produced. Use it if you have it, but we use Fee Brothers, which is what the original recipe calls for. No, it’s not local, and yes, we want Scrappy’s peach bitters, but, even if we had it, there’s something to be said for the OG. Fee Brothers makes some darn good products, some of which are unique to them. So grab some peach bitters and some Krogstad and see what this drink is about. If you love a Negroni, the Trident might be just a drink for you.
3/4 oz Krogstad Aquavit
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Dry sherry
2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach Bitters
Stir and serve up. Garnish with a lemon twist.