DrinkWire is Liquor.com’s showcase for the best articles, recipes and reviews from the web’s top writers and bloggers. In this post, Boxes and Booze offers a Italian cake-inspired cocktail.

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It’s that time of year again when we all like to indulge ourselves with particularly special treats and gifts. I’m not Italian, but my family and I have grown to love having the special Italian holiday bread known as panettone on hand this time of year. Originally from Milan and dating back in origin all the way to the Roman Empire, panettone has now become a holy grail of sorts to bakers and achieved a certain cult status. This is because, of course, it’s incredibly complicated. Panettone dough is one of the most challenging to work with and can be impossibly tricky according to bakers. To create the perfect, lightly delicate and delicious cake, full of tiny treats inside, which literally pulls apart and melts in your mouth, requires days of preparation and precise planning. Only a true master baker can pull it off.

A feat which American puzzle box artist Perry McDaniel could handle with aplomb, no doubt. After all, his Puzzled Guy Patisserie produces some of the finest, most precise and beguiling puzzles around, and folks line up around the corner whenever the bake shop happens to be open. I’m toasting Perry and his marvelous “Blackjack Cake” cake which is really a puzzle box with another cake – which is really a cocktail! The “Jerry Thomas Project” is a speakeasy style bar in the heart of Rome, Italy and home to world renown mixologist Michele Garofalo. The bar celebrates the “Professor” Jerry Thomas, one of the fathers of cocktails and the original mustachioed bartender from the nineteenth century. He predated the prohibition era so naming a speakeasy in his honor is a bit anachronistic but we can forgive the artistic license – the drinks there sound fabulous. Check out their home page, where the secret password hides in plain sight for you to discover. As a tribute to his home town and their historical cake, Garofalo has created a liquid version. His “Il Panetun” recreates the panettone as one of the more decadent and delicious holiday cocktails you are likely to consume this season. It features a homemade chocolate sauce and the decadent, quinine based wine Barolo Chinato, which was meant to be paired with chocolate, after all. The result is simply stunning, rich and utterly delicious. I’m trying to imagine enjoying one of these with some authentic artisanal panettone simultaneously but my brain keeps short circuiting when I do. Here’s to special treats and the spirit of indulgence. Who says you can’t solve your puzzle and drink it too? Cheers!

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Il Panetun by Michele Garofalo

  • 1 ½ oz gin
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier
  • ½ oz Barolo Chinato
  • 1 oz homemade chocolate syrup
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake ingredients together vigorously without ice and then again with ice to chill and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with a Pocky stick or a slice of panettone.

Homemade chocolate syrup: Simmer ¾ cup sultana raisins and zest of 2 oranges with 2 cups water, gently muddling once simmering and cook 6-7 minutes. Strain solids and add ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder at low heat. Whisk to dissolve then add twice the amount of sugar, combine until smooth. Cool and bottle, keep refrigerated.

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For more about the devilishly delicious Blackjake Cake Box see:

Boxes and Booze: A Piece of Cake