Merry Widow – David Embury
1 part French vermouth
1 part Dubonnet
1 dash orange bitters to each drink
Stir quickly with large cubes of ice. A twist of lemon over each drink.
Dubonnet is another one of those strange bottles which tends to sit on the back of bars gathering dust, I think in 25 years of bartending I’ve probably tasted it two, maybe 3 times. This year I’m looking forward to trying things like Dubonnet as much as I am the drinks.
Dubonnet (1843) has been around even longer than Benedictine (1863), and just like the faithful old gin and tonic, was invented as a source of quinine so the troops wouldn’t get malaria. More recently this was a favourite of the late Queen Mother (and later her daughter) who once noted before a trip, “I think that I will take two small bottles of Dubonnet and gin with me this morning, in case it is needed”, I’m sure it was needed.
The drink I’ve chosen is less well known, sitting in Embury’s aromatic wine chapter, and as I was looking for something a little lighter in alcohol, its 14.8% seemed perfect. The drink is like a glass of aromatic slightly sweet wine, it has a great depth of flavour, and with the twist of lemon is a perfect aperitif. The Queen Mother apparently liked her Dubonnet with a large shot of gin (obv.) which listed in Embury as a ‘Dubonnet’ will definitely be on my list, although i can’t help but think hes got the names mixed up.