“It’s not that plain,” Chip Tyndale says of the Bamboo, a classic two-ingredient cocktail. “It’s a deceptively complex drink.”
While the Bamboo has become known as a bartender flex, inviting ever-more-elaborate interpretations, Tyndale, a bartender at Dutch Kills in Long Island City, New York, favors a streamlined version that appears effortlessly cohesive.
In contrast to the growing number of more-is-more iterations, Tyndale fine-tunes the traditional build with just a few subtle tweaks. While the original Bamboo comprises equal parts sherry and dry vermouth, he splits the vermouth portion to include a quarter-ounce of blanc vermouth. It’s a minor adjustment that makes all the difference.
“I wanted to stick to classic ingredients,” Tyndale says. “[But] even the very small amount of blanc vermouth tends to add more body and mouthfeel.” It’s a move that nods to Joaquín Simó’s trick of adding a touch of simple syrup to round out the texture in drinks that are traditionally dry and austere, like Martinis. “I took a similar approach,” says Tyndale, smoothing out the dry vermouth with the slightly sweeter blanc style. The resulting drink hews closely to the traditional Bamboo, yielding a “dry and refreshing” profile with fuller texture.
Finessing the vermouth portion was perhaps the trickiest part, notes Tyndale. Though it took only a few iterations to find the right equilibrium, an early version with too much blanc vermouth was “overpowering,” he recalls, steering closer to Adonis territory, a more robust drink made with sweet vermouth. “A quarter-ounce was just right,” he says.
He selected Dolin for both vermouth portions. “I like the fruity qualities that you get in Dolin Blanc,” he explains. “You get a little bit of banana, strawberry, grapefruit quality in there. It plays well with the nuttiness of the sherry.”
While blending vermouth styles opened up the drink, Tyndale admits that he didn’t have the same success blending different styles of sherry. “If you add Pedro Ximénez, you get too much raisiny sherry in the final drink. I’ve tried mixing oloroso and fino—you don’t quite get the balance.” His solution: “a good, solid amontillado, with the balance it’s meant to have.” It lends nutty character that works well with the vermouth, without adding unnecessary fuss.
A dash each of orange and Angostura bitters finish the drink. It wasn’t a matter of workshopping those elements: “That’s just how I learned it,” says Tyndale. “They’re traditional ingredients.” (In early written recipes for the Bamboo, some entries omit the bitters totally while others include both Angostura and orange). The orange bitters accent the citrusy notes found in the vermouths, while Angostura adds “a spicy edge.” The end result is remarkably harmonious. “The Angostura bitters, sherry, vermouth all come together to make it something that’s a little more complex than drinking sherry or vermouth on its own,” explains Tyndale.
The presentation is as classic as its components: stirred and strained into a traditional coupe, brightened by a lemon twist garnish. While most stirred drinks are at their best the moment the chilled liquid hits the glass, Tyndale notes that his Bamboo can be enjoyed even as it warms up to room temperature—though he suspects it may not last that long. “It’s a very more-ish drink,” he says. “Take a sip and it should be nice and dry, leav[ing] you wanting a little bit more in the next sip.”