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Cocktail Creators: Chris Dunsmoor of Denver’s Jovanina’s Broken Italian

Chris Dunsmoor, bar manager at Jovanina’s Broken Italian {1520 Blake Street, Denver; 720.541.7721}, talks cocktail creation and shares his recipe for Matteo’s Vendetta, a custom cocktail crafted around Luxardo Bitter Bianco.

DiningOut: What do you enjoy most about bartending?

Dunsmoor: What I love about bartending is that it’s an outlet for my creativity. I take the time to learn about spirits and use them much like a painter would use a color palette. I love that I get the chance to present creations—whether mine or other great bartenders’—-to people on a daily basis.

DiningOut: What goes into creating a great cocktail?

Dunsmoor: Balance is the biggest element I strive for; I always want every element of the cocktail to shine through and support the overall flavor. I try to imagine how every ingredient will complement the next.

DiningOut: What is the inspiration for this cocktail? I wanted to create a food-friendly drink that complements our menu here at Jovanina’s Broken Italian. We have a classic Italian aperitivo as well as using a classic ingredient like balsamic vinegar. The drink is a little lower in alcohol content, which makes it a little more food friendly, something you could sip on all day, a little more sessionable.

The Cocktail: Matteo’s Vendetta

Key Ingredient: Luxardo Bitter Bianco

In a dry mixing glass, add 1 ounce Luxardo Bitter Bianco, 3/4 ounce aquavit, 3/4 ounce rye whiskey, 1/4 ounce Ancho Reyes Verde, and 1/4 ounce balsamic vinegar syrup*. Slice a swath of grapefruit skin and wring the excess juice from the strip into the mixing glass, then drop in the skin, add ice, and stir until combined. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube and top with another freshly peeled grapefruit twist.

*To make balsamic vinegar syrup, measure out the desired amount of balsamic vinegar into a container with a lid and add a half-measure of white sugar (for example, 1 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup white sugar). Shake the mixture to dissolve the sugar, let settle, and repeat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Photos and video by Brent Andeck of Andeck Photography