Roman Republic (Sulmona)
Tableside with a Somm: UNI
Q&A: Sam Treadway of backbar
The Roman Republic may have ended in 27 B.C., but Cambridge Italian spot Sulmona keeps its spirit alive with an eponymous drink that matches bourbon, citrus, and cardamom.
While the drink’s name recalls a bygone civilization, head bartender Rino Hoxha found inspiration in Barcelona and Brookline—Brookline’s Barcelona Wine Bar, to be exact. Hoxha was enamored with a drink served by Spanish restaurant Spice Rack, made with bourbon, maple syrup, lemon juice, and cardamom bitters.
Hoxha’s twist boosts the citrus factor with the addition of fresh blood orange juice, and finds an extra herbal kick in the form of a basil-cardamom simple syrup. Those unshy flavors are balanced by a full two ounces of Old Grand-Dad Bourbon.
That’s an unusual amount of brown liquor for a shaken, citrusy drink, and it makes Roman Republic the perfect bridge between an old-fashioned and a whiskey sour. Thanks to the refreshing quality of the citrus, the strong backbone of the bourbon, and the herbal kick of the syrup and bitters, it’s about as evergreen as any bourbon cocktail can be.
2 ounces Old Grand-Dad Bourbon
1 ounce blood orange juice
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce cardamom syrup*
2 dashes lavender bitters
Orange wheel and basil leaf, to garnish
Add cardamom syrup and basil leaves to shaker and muddle. Fill with ice, add other ingredients, and shake until chilled. Double strain into a highball glass. Garnish with orange wheel and basil leaf. Serve.
Cardamom syrup* (yields about 2 cups)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
8 cardamom seeds
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to just under a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add crushed cardamom seeds. Allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes then double-strain into a sealed container. Keeps for two weeks, refrigerated.