Where: Taste of China, 233 East Main St., Clinton
Ingredient: Fresh pink grapefruit juice, Punt e Mes Italian dry vermouth, Absolut Ruby Red, Campari, twist of lemon
I don't usually drink a cocktail at lunch. In fact, my "cocktail" of choice is usually a glass of wine with dinner.
But, here I was, on a Saturday afternoon, awaiting special Chinese New Year's dishes at Taste of China in Clinton and sipping a most pleasing cocktail.
While chatting with Jonathan Dolph, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Hu Ping, he mentioned experimenting with a new drink for the bar menu. The mix sounded intriguing - fresh pink grapefruit juice, Punt e Mes Italian vermouth, vodka and Campari, the bitter aperitif whose flavor I've always found interesting.
We're game, my husband and I told Dolph. Served in a tall, curvy glass, the cocktail had the color of a brilliant sunrise, which inspired Dolph's name for the drink. The color made it look sweet, but the first sip proved otherwise - refreshing, tart but not sour.
Unlike some trendy drinks such as a chocolate martini, Jonathan's Red Sky paired well with the two dishes we ate - tender cuttlefish with celery and scallions, and battered and fried shrimp in a sweet, sour and slightly spicy mango sauce. The concoction neither overpowered the subtle flavors of the squid dish nor faded against the chiles in the shrimp's sauce.
Maybe it was the great meal or, more likely, the unexpected "find" of a terrific drink, but we left the restaurant, restored and ready to tackle those Saturday afternoon errands.
- LINDA GIUCA