Where to Get a Braulio Cocktail in San Diego
The Alps-inspired Italian amaro is hard to come by, but worth the effort
Grant Grill's Piazza del Campo cocktail. | Photo: Kelly Davis
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about cocktails made with Cynar, the bittersweet Italian amaro of which I’m a huge fan. After the post was published, I got an email from Josh Carlos, San Diego’s brand rep for Campari America whose portfolio includes Cynar. We started chatting about Italian amari and he mentioned Braulio being his second favorite amaro, just behind Cynar.
I’m always looking for new and interesting spirits and liqueurs and I’d never heard of Braulio—let alone seen it featured in a cocktail. Turns out it’s got a pretty interesting backstory. Around for more than 140 years, created in the town of Bormio in the Italian Alps, it was acquired by the Campari Group in 2014. But, because each bottle is aged two years, it was initially difficult to come by. That’s been fixed—there’s now plenty of Braulio to go around; it’s just a matter of getting the word out to craft-cocktail bars and liquor stores. (In San Diego, check Mona Lisa market in Little Italy if you’d like to buy a bottle.)
Carlos describes Braulio’s flavor as “very palatable” and “somewhere between a vermouth and a bitter.” I think the bottle’s label—showing an idyllic alpine scene—pretty much captures it. It’s a little woodsy, a little sweet, a little minty, and a little herbal, with a caramel base.
There are only a handful of bars in San Diego where you can find Braulio (Prohibition, Bankers Hill, Kindred, and Cowboy Star among them). Two were kind enough to make up Braulio cocktails. If you’d like to play around with it at home, Carlos recommends serving it on ice with a generous lemon twist. Food and Wine recommends a Braulio Sour, made the traditional way with rye whiskey, Braulio, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, an egg white, and a dash of Angostura.
Or, try Cesar Sandoval’s Saluti cocktail. Sandoval, a bartender at La Jolla’s Catania, pulled in the slightly sweeter Amaro Montenegro and a couple dashes of lemon bitters for this well-balanced, spirit-forward cocktail.
“Braulio being such a beautiful and complex amaro, I wanted it to be the star of the show,” Sandoval says. “The 100-proof Rittenhouse gives it some nice spicy notes and cuts the natural viscosity of Braulio. A small amount of Montenegro helps as the sweet component of the drink, the lemon bitters adds acidity to the cocktail, and Angostura is what binds all of these ingredients together like nice happy family.”
Over at Grant Grill, Chef de Bar Cory Alberto created a Braulio cocktail called the Piazza del Campo. It’s made with some bold ingredients—Bertagnolli Grappa di Amarone, Talisker 10-year Scotch, Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth, Barolo Chinato, and Braulio—but you can taste how each component of the cocktail works to create the whole. And Alberto serves it beautifully.
The Piazza del Campo is one of five cocktails featured as part of Grant Grill’s new Vieux Carre bar cart program. The elegant, roving cocktail cart will be in the U.S. Grant Hotel’s lobby Thursday through Saturday nights and features five cocktails named after historic city centers, plus a sixth “omakase” option. They’ll run you $17 to $21, but are made with top-shelf ingredients and you get the added bonus of being able to chat up your bartender as he makes the cocktail right in front of you.
And, at The Lion’s Share, Jason O’Bryan came up with a Braulio twist on a Paper Plane. Called “Fly Like Paper,” it’s made with 1 ounce each of bourbon, Aperol, Braulio, and lemon, garnished with a generous grapefruit twist.
“I wanted to pair the lovely pine quality of the Braulio with grapefruit flavors,” he says. “This little Paper Plane variation’s got the textured bitterness of grapefruit with those tingly alpine notes from the Braulio.”
Got ideas for a future post? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.