Drink of the Week: Hola Arepa's Rum Negroni

Finding the sweet smell of the season in this week’s cocktail.

I think I’ve found my perfume for the holidays. It’s a subtle mix of grapefruit zest, warm seasonal spice notes like cardamom, and a hint of honey. The only issue is that these beautiful bottles, already packaged for easy gift wrapping, aren’t being sold as perfume. These are actually bitters. (Are you really surprised? This is me we’re talking about, and all things in my stocking should be booze-augmented or a related accessory.)

Easy & Oskey bitters kits are the work of two rakish fellows from the Twin Cities. Dan Oskey is the bar manager at Hola Arepa and widely respected as one of the best drink-shakers in town. Erik Eastman (aka Easy) is a wine and food expert whose cocktail suggestions can be found on MPR’s “Appetites.”

As we hurtle ourselves towards the holiday shopping season, these DIY kits are a fantastic idea to keep in your hip pocket. The stylish boxes contain the jars, spices and droppers needed to create your very own bitters. These easy-to-produce drink enhancements are light years beyond most varieties that can be found on the store shelf. The flavors are entirely clean on their own and blissfully free of chemical after taste. (Seriously, try a naked commercially available brand – drop a little on the back of your hand and taste. Eesh. Now go brush your teeth.)

The original bitters flavors are all available for order on Food52’s Provisions website: Naked, Orange, Cherry Vanilla or Habañero. The Grapefruit will soon be available, but for now, the best place to taste on is at Hola Arepa, where Dan is dropping them into a heavenly rum negroni.

Flor de Caña extra dry meets the drier still Campari and Carpano Antica before being accentuated with the delightfully floral grapefruit bitters.  For $8.50, this twist on the classically balanced bitter cocktail takes a turn towards winter with evocative seasonal scents. And don’t worry if you don’t see it on the menu —they’ve promised me that the staff is ready for readers to act on this order. That’s right: This is super secret insider knowledge that I have saved especially for you. Because I love you. Merry Friendsgiving!