Killer Quinquinas

Photograph  by  Bruce  Peterson. styling  by  rowena  day/ennis.

Photograph by Bruce Peterson. styling by rowena day/ennis.

Lighter and sweeter than Italian amaro, and with more of an herbaceous bite than vermouth, the category of fortified wines known as quinquinas has become a bartender favorite. “They add an interesting herbal flavor component to ­cocktails,” says Josh Childs, who uses them in libations at his Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Silvertone establishments.

Quinquinas (pronounced kin-keenas) have been popular in Europe since the 1800s, when they were developed to help French soldiers ingest quinine (which comes from cinchona bark) in order to ward off malaria. In modern-day Boston, Childs says, “there is this resurgence in cocktail culture, and everyone wants to play around with them again.” Quinquinas by nature all contain a dose of bitter quinine, but they each vary slightly in flavor profile: White varieties are sweeter and a tad citrusy, while red versions have cherry, raisin, and caramel notes.

Quinquinas make a nice low-proof apéritif with club soda and a wedge of lemon or orange. Prefer to channel your inner bartender? The bottles on this page work well in some of Childs’s favorite classic cocktail recipes, which he shares above.

Find quinquinas at Formaggio Kitchen, the Wine & Cheese Cask, and the Urban Grape, or behind the bar at Trina’s Starlite Lounge.

Clockwise from top:

Dubonnet Rouge
Use in the Dubonnet cocktail: 1 1/2 oz. gin, 1 1/2 oz. Dubonnet, and lemon peel.

Use in the Vesper: 2 oz. gin, 1 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. Lillet, and lemon peel.

Use in the Manhattan (a variation): 2 oz. rye, 1 oz. Bonal, and orange bitters.

Use in the Blood and Sand: 3/4 oz. scotch, 3/4 oz. orange juice, 3/4 oz.
sweet vermouth, and 3/4 oz. Maurin.

Use in the Vieux Carré: 1 oz. rye, 1 oz. cognac, 1 oz. Byrrh, 1/2 oz. Benedictine, a dash of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, and orange peel.

Cocchi Americano
Use in the Corpse Reviver #2: 3/4 oz. gin, 3/4 oz. Cointreau, 3/4 oz. lemon juice, 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano, and a splash of Pernod.