When you think about using balsamic vinaigrette, what recipes come to mind? For me, I imagine a fresh, well-dressed salad, maybe a caprese sandwich, or perhaps a traditional bruschetta. And today, I am adding the Bufala Negra cocktail to that list! That’s right, it may sound a little strange at first, but I’ve added a balsamic simple syrup to my bar cart and–take my word for it–its delicious. This ingredient adds a delightfully tart flavor that I can see pairing well with a lot of spirits, and I can’t wait to do some more experimenting. (I mean, who doesn’t love an adventure in mixology?) But for now grab your shaker, because today we’re making the Bufala Negra.
The Bufala Negra cocktail was created by a talented bartender out of Atlanta named Jerry Slater, who worked at the beloved H. Harper Station. And although this cocktail bar is long-since closed, Slater’s beautiful creation can live on in our home bars and local watering holes for years to come. If you’re shaking this one up, I recommend starting with a high-quality balsamic vinegar and suggest avoiding bottles that contain wine vinegar or caramel flavorings. Extra ingredients like these tend to be dead giveaways that the balsamic has not been well-aged and likely won’t have that thick, syrupy-sweet texture we all know and love.
The original Bufala Negra, as envisioned out in Georgia, is topped with ginger beer. And while I understand the desire to add some bubbles for a bit more spicy-sweetness, I found that I preferred mine without! I love a spirit-forward cocktail recipe and, at least in my book, am happy to let the tart balsamic, savory basil, and delicious bourbon shine through. With that said, I say follow your heart! Cocktails are all about playing around with ingredients until you find something you love, and that’s no exception here.
*To make the Balsamic Syrup:
Combine equal parts balsamic vinegar, water, and brown sugar in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves completely, about 1 minute. Let cool completely before using.