La Rosita Cocktail
There’s an impossibly charming story about La Rosita that involves the late Gary “gaz” Regan, a legendary drinks writer and one of the bartending community’s most cherished heroes. Regan was a bartender’s bartender, who learned the trade by hanging out in his parents’ pub in Blackpool, England, where he started bartending in the 1960s at the young age of 15. Gaz made his way to New York not long after, working in Irish and English pubs for a couple of decades until his writing career took off. He had several newspaper and magazine columns, but his 1991 book, The Bartender’s Bible, was a turning point for him and remains a classic guide found on many cocktail aficionado’s shelves.
La Rosita was one of the 1,001 recipes included in that seminal book but, apparently, Gaz had forgotten all about it by the time he was re-introduced to it some 15 years later. Wanting to learn more about the drink, he set about researching it, only to find it in his own Bible. To be fair, Regan dealt with an awful lot of cocktails over his bartending and writing career that spanned five decades. He was bound to forget a few, especially a drink like La Rosita, which was great, but seriously ahead of its time. Even as recently as the 1990s, few people drank tequila in anything other than a Margarita. And the Negroni, La Rosita’s ancestor, was still something of a cult classic, as opposed to the ubiquitous “call drink” that it is now.
Tequila doesn’t always need citrus, as this twist on a Negroni demonstrates. While there are a few brands that tequila purists and industry experts endorse (such as Ocho and Fortaleza), it can be difficult to source in Canada, so I tend to stick with bigger, old-school brands, such as Patrón or Herradura, because they tend to still have the original crisp, citrussy and bright flavour profile that converted me to tequila in the first place. To my palate, a lot of the newer brands taste mild, soft and sweet, with cooked agave front and centre. That said, most blanco expressions will work perfectly well in this cocktail, so use whatever you have on hand.
- 1½ oz Herradura Blanco*
- ½ oz Campari
- ½ oz sweet vermouth
- ½ oz dry vermouth
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 lemon twist (for garnish)
*Fun fact: Herradura is fermented with wild yeasts—an uncommon process in the spirits world.
Stir liquid ingredients over ice. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a twist.