There is a term in the cocktail world called a ‘banger’. It’s a drink that perhaps lacks a degree of depth and complexity, but more than makes up for it in drinkability (which may or may not be a real word) and universal appeal. A banger is a drink that appeals to Saturday night Woo-Girls and cocktail nerds alike. In a word… everyone likes a banger. There can be all sorts of different styles of bangers, some more studious than others, but when all is said and done, as long as the masses love it, bang on. This particular cocktail was a collaboration of contributor Travis Baker (@travbo530) and Seth Marquez (instagram @sethswizzles), both formerly of other places, now hanging their hats at Coin-Op in Sacramento, where it gets hot as Hades in the summer. So without further ado, let’s break down the Summer Banger…
Normally, your base spirit is going to take up the majority of your drink. Not so this time. In order to go with a high quafability (also probably a made-up word), Baker and Marquez opted for an equal-parts cocktail, which means the base spirit is going to take up the same amount of volume as the rest of the ingredients. We prefer one of two routes with the gin on this drink, depending on your predilection. Ford’s Gin is a great new(ish) London Dry style gin that allows a lot of citric element and brightness to shine through. Works great in this cocktail. Another route to take is a New American Gin. Softer botanicals that allow the rest of the ingredients to share some of the workload. Spiritworks and Wilder are hot on our list right now.
Next is Aperol. We’ve discussed Aperol before. A slightly bitter Italian aperitif with badass grapefruit notes. Works really well with gin in several different applications.
After that, let’s talk citricity (definitely not a word). Lemon juice. Fresh. One could think that with the grapefruit elements of Aperol, that would be the citric route to take, but the problem with grapefruit is that it is much like Bill Pullman… a great supporting actor, but really… can he carry the movie? History says no. Lemon juice is the Pacino of the cocktail world. Sometimes overbearing and loud, but when it has the correct supporting cast, there isn’t another juice you’d rather have in the role.
Ok, on to some nerdy stuff. Usually eschewed in a classic banger, the boys of Coin-Op opted for a little Lillet. We say it is usually passed over because it’s a little on the cocktail geek side of ingredients, but there is no denying its taste. Lillet is a fortified wine, which again, we’ve discussed before, but a brief recap- it’s basically a vermouth, but with a little more intricacy and a lot more delicious. It differs from normal vermouth in that it is blended with a little quinine liquor, which means it has a little more astringency and will also prevent malaria (probably not, but it cant’s hurt, right?). Nonetheless, Lillet Blanc has notes of honey and orange along with its sweeter white wine and tiny bits of bitter astringency. All in all, it plays well with gin (see a drink called a Vesper), and it mellows out the Aperol a bit too.
Normally one would stop there, as the rules of a banger dictate that a drink be easy to make (you bang them out with ferocity and regularity after all, you don’t want them to be complicated), but Baker and Marquez decided it was missing a quintessential “summer” ingredient, so they threw in just a few slices of cucumber and muddled them up. The water-laden freshness of the vegetable tug on the heartstrings of the herbaceous notes of the gin and mellow out the raging lion of the lemon’s citrus acid at the same time. Also, in a drink that doesn’t use added sugar, the tiny but of sweetness from fresh cucumber cannot be undersold.
All in all, this is a hot day classic, created strictly for consuming more than one and enjoying with friends on a patio, at a beach, or in your favorite basement bar.
.75 oz Gin
.75 oz Aperol
.75 oz Lemon
.75 oz Lillet Blanc
3-5 Cucumber slices, muddled
Muddle your cuc’s (that’s what the Cool Kids are calling them), add all your ingredients, and shake like the summer is about to end. Fine strain the drink into a coupe (glass), and garnish with a cucumber.