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Three Ways: The Bamboo Cocktail

Credited to German bartender Louis Eppinger— known for serving it at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan—the Bamboo was likely created by Eppinger years earlier, while he was working in San Francisco in the mid-1800s. Crafted with sherry, dry vermouth, and a few drops of orange and Angostura bitters, it made for a pleasingly complex (if bracingly dry) cocktail that keeps its ABV in check. As cocktail historian David Wondrich wrote, “The Bamboo looks like a cocktail, tastes like a cocktail, and punches like a six-year-old.” Here are three modern versions of the drink, from minor tweaks to full makeover.

Bamboozicle Slushy Nitecap—the beloved Lower East Side bar that announced its permanent closure in late September—was renowned for its take on the Bamboo. The signature slushy from owner Natasha David is essentially a Bamboo crossed with a fruit smoothie to delicious effect. “In an effort to spread the sherry gospel, I wanted to apply it in a super fun and lighthearted way,” says David. “Amontillado sherry has so many beautiful nutty notes, so I wanted to pair those with candied banana, then brighten it a bit with strawberry.” To make the drink at home, in a blender combine 1½oz. of amontillado sherry, 1 oz. of simple syrup (1:1), 1 oz. of water, ¾ oz. of blanc vermouth, ¾ oz. of dry vermouth (David uses Dolin for both), ¾ oz. of fresh orange juice, ½ oz. of strawberry purée (or about 2 sliced strawberries), and ¼ oz. of banana rum (such as Bacardi). Add ½ cup of ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a double rocks glass and garnish festively.

Death & Co Bamboo Sometimes little tweaks make all the difference, and Death & Co has been perfecting their Bamboo for years. “Working through a number of classic sherry- and vermouth-based cocktails, we wanted to make sure we were differentiating between them,” explains Tyson Buhler, Death & Co’s national beverage director. “Whereas our Adonis is on the richer, sweeter side, utilizing sweet vermouth and an oxidized oloroso sherry, for the Bamboo we wanted something a bit more bracing. We still use a teaspoon of 2:1 sugarcane syrup for body and texture, but the fino sherry dries the drink out and allows it to drink more in the realm of a dry Martini.” In a mixing glass add 1½ oz. of blanc vermouth (such as Dolin), 1½ oz. of fino sherry, 1 tsp. of rich simple syrup (2:1), 1 dash of orange bitters, and 1 dash of Angostura bitters, then stir with ice to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass, then garnish with a lemon twist.

Rockin’ Like Bamboo At New York’s Ward III, bartender Greg Moreno dials up the complexity of the classic with the additions of amaro and an aperitif. “The Rockin’ Like Bamboo [pictured] is full of complexity and depth, like a Manhattan or Martinez, but still has a lower ABV, so you probably won’t misplace your cell phone after knocking back a few,” says Moreno. In a mixing glass add 1 oz. of dry vermouth, ¾ oz. of blanc vermouth (Moreno uses Dolin for both), ¾ oz. of a sweeter sherry (Moreno uses Lustau East India Solera), ½ oz. of Cynar, and ¼ oz. of Byrrh. Stir with ice to chill, strain into a chilled coupe, then garnish with an orange twist.

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