La Dura Vita
- 1-1/2 oz. gin (I used Death's Door)
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1/2 oz. Averna amaro
- Lemon twist as garnish
Build over ice in an old fashioned glass. Stir. Garnish with a lemon twist.
La Dura Vita (the hard life), is a less sweet, more herbal Negroni, which makes sense since you replace sweet vermouth with amaro (although the ratios are different for a Negroni). It's all Negroni until the very end.
Up front you have juniper from the gin, followed by the bitter orange of the Campari.
Then things get weird.
The Averna adds a funky, medicinal quality that threw me for a loop. That quality lingered more than the juniper or the orange.
This is a strange drink. If you have gin, Campari and Averna on hand, I say go for it, especially if you like your cocktails on the dry and bitter side, which I do. If you like your drinks with a bit more sweetness, stick with a classic Negroni.
What do you listen to while drinking a remix of a Negroni? You put on an album by the inventor of the remix album, Harry Nilsson. Yes, little known fact, Harry Nilsson, created the first remix album with Aerial Pandemonium Ballet. For Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, Nilsson went back to his first two albums, Pandemonium Shadow Show and Aerial Ballet for source material to create Aerial Pandemonium Ballet. If you can track down the Nilsson box set, which I highly recommend, you can hear Nilsson sing a handful of songs from Aerial Pandemonium Ballet in Italian, even more reason to pair a La Dura Vita with this album.
Nilsson clearly led a hard life. 1941 opens with Nilsson singing over a carnivalesque string and accordion arrangement:
Well, in 1941 a happy father had a son
And by 1944, father walks right out the door
And in '45 the mom and son were still alive
But who could tell in '46 if the two were to survive
And survive he did. Nilsson released 18 studio albums filled with hits and misses, blunders, pop brilliance and goofball humor. Even at his lyrically most downtrodden, Nilsson can make the bitter a bit easier to swallow.
Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, like La Dura Vita, is an odd remix. Does it hit all the notes of the original(s). Probably not, but it's worth spending some time with to get a different perspective.