How to Make Little Rituals’ Big City Nights Cocktail

Nikki BuchananMay 28, 2019
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Photo by Rob Ballard

This isn’t 1995. Downtown Phoenix no longer faces an uphill battle convincing people of its cultural bona fides – least of all Little Rituals mixologist Aaron Defeo, who invented the eye-popping Big City Nights cocktail to state his position on Phoenix-style sophistication. The drink itself is a slightly herbal variation of the European-style sour, combining blackberry-infused gin, Suze gentian liqueur (a French aperitif that’s earthy and floral), dry vermouth, fresh lemon and simple syrup infused with herbes de Provence and Ceylon cinnamon. The pièce de résistance? A frothy rim of egg white, which supports the stunning garnish, a circle of edible rice paper imprinted with a replica of the bar’s mural – a collage featuring iconic elements of Phoenix’s past and present.

Kids, don’t try this at home. It’s way too much trouble, given that the bar makes its syrups using sous-vide cooking. And that incredible garnish? Forget about it. That said, here’s a work-around recipe.

Add 1 ½ oz. Botanist blackberry gin, ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice, ¾ oz. herbed cinnamon syrup*, ½ oz. Suze gentian liqueur, ½ oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth and one egg white to a cocktail shaker and dry shake (without ice) for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake vigorously for another 30 seconds. Strain through a fine strainer into a chilled coupe.

*Combine two cups sugar, one cup water, one cinnamon stick and 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool, strain and bottle.


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