The PSL recently celebrated two decades of existence, and if there’s anything more trite than corporations trotting out new dessert-based beverages each year, it’s spilling ink poking fun at them. For whatever reason, fall makes a beverage girlie go feral, and that is simply a rule that dictates this time of year, like shifting back from daylight savings.
In parallel, albeit taking up much less social media real estate, the Bamboo has become somewhat of a flex in recent years as bartenders pack unexpected doses of falernum, Scotch, Bénédictine—sometimes up to eight ingredients—into the traditionally austere sherry Martini. Like the humble gourd of autumn latte fame, the 19th-century cocktail didn’t always seem destined for the limelight, but here we are, and sometimes all of that attention is well deserved.
At Brooklyn’s Bar Vinazo, the Basque Bamboo is both a Bamboo and a cocktail that’s gunning for the title of drink of fall (in my book), but it’s far from fussy. It wasn’t designed for the shoulder season—in fact, it fit well within the menu this summer, too—but to me, it’s everything I want to drink right now. Co-owner Joe Campanale describes it as a cross between the Martini-like classic and a spritz, and it shares the sensibilities of both: It inhabits the casual air of aperitivo, now with a light jacket.
At the base of the drink are a Basque vermouth, Tximista Vermouth Blanco, which Campanale describes as “briny,” and a fino-style “pálido” sherry from Gómez Nevado (a winemaker whose bottlings represent some of the best of wine right now). The two impart herbaceousness, salinity and acid, ideal to have alongside conservas at a place like Bar Vinazo.
But what gives the spritz its sparkle is Basque cider, which Campanale describes as “drier, more earthy and a bit more tart” than many domestic offerings. Without added sugar, the cider in the Basque Bamboo skews closer to natural wine, and its resulting bubbles are gentler, with a silkier, lush texture.
Between its effervescence, low ABV and fall flavor, the Basque Bamboos are ready to have on lazy afternoons and holiday gatherings all season long, whether on the bar’s patio or batched at home for a crowd. (Campanale suggests mixing up everything but the cider, if you’re going that route.) Apples, for autumn? It’s not revolutionary—until you try it like this.