Critical Mass

The Boston, as served at Due Forni, $13.95

Like Due Forni owner Alex Taylor, formerly of Wynn Resorts, and chef Carlos Buscaglia, formerly of Fiamma, barman Mike Donaldson carved a career out on the Strip before heading for the hills of south Summerlin. He started with the Light Group and Tao Group before opening Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. in the Cosmopolitan as the sommelier and beverage director. Now at Due Forni (3555 S. Town Center Drive, Suite 105), Donaldson has managed to create a small but powerful cocktail program in a restaurant better known for its wine list and more than 40 by-the-glass offerings. But, he says, “I think Summerlin is ready to embrace real cocktails, crafted by real bartenders who understand and respect the art.”

Another Great Bostonian

Purportedly created in Boston for a political victory dinner, the Ward Eight can be found in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). With grenadine, orange juice, lemon juice and rye whiskey, “It’s not a drink to change your views on life, happiness and the eternal mysteries with a single sip,” writes Esquire cocktail historian David Wondrich. “Its aims are modest, its charms subtle. That is, if you make it right.”

A Boston area native, Donaldson loves his bourbon and rye, but can’t bring himself to host a Manhattan on his menu. A simple solution: the Boston, a “one-up” on that quintessential whiskey cocktail. “I use single-barrel Blanton’s bourbon for its silky texture and smoky caramel notes,” he says. “Instead of the traditional sweet vermouth, I use Amaro Nonino, which is a grappa-based Italian liquor. This adds a sweet burnt-orange element to the drink. The two dashes of the Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters harmoniously tie it all together. Finished with a brandied cherry, this is just like a Manhattan—only better.”

But, you say, cocktails and pizza?!

Two words: wicked good.

With only three ingredients, and all of them alcoholic, it’s also wicked strong. “Spirits are meant to be tasted, not masked,” he says. “People always ask me where my Boston accent is. If I drink two of these, it starts to reappear.”

In a mixing glass, combine 2 ounces Blanton’s Single-Barrel Bourbon, 1 ounce Amaro Nonino and 2 dashes Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters. Add ice, stir (“Never shake this cocktail,” Donaldson says) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.