Ahab and the Carpenter

The Ahab and the Carpenter is served in a lowball glass, garnished with strawberries and jalapeños.

We meet again, Rosso Vermouth…

It was time to make another attempt at a Rosso Vermouth cocktail, because it’s been a while (she said grimly). Elizabeth has declared that I’m on my own with my quest to make a tasty cocktail with that wretched ingredient. I am truly Ahab, and it is my Moby Dick. Good lord.

Tonight’s cocktail is named after a chapter in Moby Dick, where Ahab charges the ship’s carpenter with making him a new prosthetic, whalebone leg. Of course, this is after Moby Dick destroyed the previous prosthetic leg, and after tearing off his real leg before that. Well, this damn vermouth keeps going after my metaphorical leg.

The Strategy

My strategy at this point is to mostly mask the vermouth. Is this waving a white flag at the problem? Well, what can I say – I’m a bon vivant at heart. I’m not going to die strapped to my white whale.

To that end, I decided to use another liquor in equal proportions. Full disclosure: I considered using just a splash of Rosso Vermouth, but that felt like cheating. So, the strategy is to combine with another liquor, brine (of course – my favorite) and anything else that might help the flavor along. Enter Porch Tequila.

I also called upon Hot & Sweet Jalapeño brine, which has been very good to us over at the Pandemic Pub, a strawberry muddle (which I hoped would work with the jalapeños – I wasn’t at all sure about that), and in the end, it needed an additional pinch of sweetness, therefore – a little bit of Cinnamon Sugar. Good ol’ pantry staples! I threw in a splash of tonic to boot, in case that Rosso Vermouth needed diluting. Yeah, I know, I know (she said sheepishly).

The Verdict

It is…not bad.

It’s fairly hot. Sometimes it reminds me of a candy – but like a hard, fruity candy that’s supposed to be good for you, not something to truly savor. Some sips tasted very much like strawberries, and some were completely full of the flavor of the jalapeño brine. I’m not sure how it managed to switch back and forth like that, which is interesting. Without that hot and sweet brine, though, this drink would be nowhere. The cinnamon sugar was a nice, subtle touch; the cinnamon provided just a little bit of depth, and complemented the tequila very nicely.

I’m just happy to *not* have a FAIL with this one! This is only the second time that’s happened with Rosso Vermouth – the first was the Look What You Made Me Do (and the lengths I went to to hide the vermouth in that one were kind of ridiculous!!!). Though I can’t, in good conscience, call this a victory either.

There might be enough Rosso Vermouth left for two (or so) more cocktails. Two more encounters with the white whale. I’ll see you again, vermouth.


  • 1.5 oz Porch Tequila

  • 1.5 oz Rosso Vermouth

  • 4 Strawberries, muddled

  • 1 Tbsp (approx) of additional Strawberry Juice

  • 3 Tbsp Hot & Sweet Jalapeño Brine

  • 1/4 tsp of Cinnamon Sugar

  • Splash of Tonic

  • Garnish: Strawberries and Jalapeños


  • Muddle the berries, and leave in shaker. Add other ingredients, except tonic – you definitely don’t want to do that…I’m telling you from experience…
  • Shake, then pour into glass with ice. Add tonic and give a stir.
  • Garnish. Hesitantly sip. Be rather shocked. Call it a not-fail.
Not a total FAIL on February 1, 2021


  1. Anne02/03/2021 | Reply

    You sound determined! And this sounds passable - I’d try it!!! I wonder how long the shaking should be. I was surprised to try a sour recipe that had me shaking for over a minute. And I think it really needed it. I wonder if you shake it that long that the muddled strawberries might get frothy. And what would that do for the blended flavor.

    • admin02/04/2021 | Reply

      Anne, I never considered that the amount of time spent shaking could make a difference (outside of raw eggs)!!!!! Mind blown!! I'll have to look into this, and experiment! Thank you!!!

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