A Rope to a Flame (The Westland)

While developing The Westland’s cocktail list, bar manager Julia Buccieri found inspiration in the bar and restaurant’s next-door neighbor, Boston Symphony Hall. Each drink is named after a myth connected to one of the classical statues that line the walls of the 119-year-old concert venue.

A Rope to a Flame is named after a legend in which Greek sailors capture Dionysus, the god of wine, only to find that no rope can hold him.

“I thought, what would prevent a rope from holding him besides the obvious—that he was stronger?” says Buccieri. “I visualized the ropes setting fire as they touched him, so that he was not held down by any of them.”

From this Homeric vision comes a cocktail made with bourbon, strawberry-infused Campari, yuzu puree, light agave nectar, and—in a touch Dionysus would surely appreciate—a float of red wine. Buccieri uses Barbera d’Alba, a variety from Piedmont known for its light and fruity character, but notes that a similarly bodied merlot or pinot noir can be substituted. Thanks to the float, the drink changes as it’s consumed.

“It starts as a New York Sour variation, and then the experience almost turns into a less-sweet, kind of funky sangria,” Buccieri says.

The cocktail is garnished with a sprig of opal basil, which not only lends a fresh aroma but also matches the drink’s wine-dark hue. The synchronicity is fully intended by Buccieri, who has a background in fine arts photography.

A Rope to a Flame
2 ounces Barbera d’Alba

1½ ounces Maker’s Mark
½ ounce strawberry-infused Campari*
½ ounce yuzu puree (or grapefruit juice)
¼ ounce light agave nectar
Opal basil, for garnish 

Add all ingredients except wine and basil to a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled. Double strain into a rocks glass over ice, then float red wine by slowly pouring it over an inverted spoon and into the cocktail. Garnish with opal basil and serve.

 *Strawberry-Infused Campari (yields 3 cups)
3 cups Campari

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries, stems removed

Combine ingredients in a container, seal, and refrigerate. Allow mixture to sit for 24 hours, shaking every few hours if possible. After 24 hours, strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard strawberries. Keeps about 1 month, refrigerated. 

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