Earls Tin Palace in Mission has been a popular gathering place for date night, hockey night or girls’ night since it opened in 1988 ahead of the Winter Olympic Games. It has weathered three Stanley Cup runs and one epic flood, but through it all stays true to its philosophy: to remain a most un-chain-like of chain restaurants by pleasing our palates with fresh, local ingredients pulled together in delicious meals and cocktails. You can pair the spicy tuna tostadas with a fizzy paloma (tequila meets Jarritos Grapefruit Soda), wash down the Moroccan salmon with an equally light bees knees or chase the Spring Creek Ranch beef with sips of the beautifully balanced amaretto sour.
Indeed, I’ve been ordering cocktails with my dinners since the bar switched over to fresh juices and herbs and house-made syrups, in 2011. The cocktail program has flourished under the direction of Vancouver-based Cameron Bogue, who keeps each menu an interesting mix of mostly classic cocktails with a few twists, as with the amaretto sour.
“One trend that’s hot right now is reviving these kitsch drinks,” Bogue explains. “So we’re bringing back grasshoppers and Sex on the Beach and amaretto sours, but doing them well.”
Like the restaurant’s new bright and modern interior, the amaretto sour has been taken down to the studs and rebuilt. Keep in mind that, 40 years ago, there was nothing special about this drink – it was a get-drunk-quick-without-tasting-the-alcohol vehicle: to two ounces of sweet amaretto bartenders added sour mix. Done. From those cloying and artificial-tasting beginnings, it’s not hard to imagine a better version by applying the rules of cocktails today.
Rule No. 1: Don’t ever use sour mix.
Rule No. 2: Juice your citrus, people.
To find the best amaretto sour out there, Bogue turned to Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., and his famous reinvention of the drink. Morgenthaler’s version of the sour includes cask-proof bourbon, which adds body and strength. It also uses the amaretto – plus a mere teaspoon of sugar syrup – as the sweetening agent. Fresh lemon juice tarts it up, the egg white binds it all together, and a brandied cherry is literally the cherry on top of this gloriously rehabilitated cocktail offender. (Bogue uses Bulleit Rye instead of bourbon for its spice and complexity.)
Let the sour float on your tongue before swallowing and taste equally the sweet and nutty amaretto, strong and spicy rye and tart lemon. This smooth, reimagined amaretto sour transitions splendidly from summer to fall, or from date night to hockey season.
How to make Earls’ amaretto sour
In a mixing glass measure:
1/2 oz. egg white and 1/4 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. amaretto
3/4 oz. Bulleit Rye
Pack mixing glass full with ice, cover and shake vigorously 50 times to mix ingredients and create a rich egg white foam. Strain over fresh ice in a double rocks glass.
Garnish with a fresh orange zest and a sour cherry.
Recipe courtesy Cameron Bogue, Earls