The late barroom balladeer Jim Croce penned “Lover’s Cross” as a bittersweet break-up song, and perhaps there’s a bit of that to the drink which the song inspired at Croce’s Jazz Bar and Grill, the establishment his wife Ingrid Croce opened 12 years after his death in 1973.
But according to Croce’s general manager Scott Watkins, who developed the drink, the Lover’s Cross brings personalities together that don’t (at first glance, anyway) easily lend themselves to the idea of a workable relationship.
Watkins tells me he developed the Lover’s Cross after introducing fruit and vegetable, vinegar and herb to a couple shots of vodka.
“I like to use products that we use in our kitchen to pair our drinks to our food,” he says. I’m crossing all kinds of boundaries here with tomatoes and grapes — and adding a white balsamic reduction, as well.”
The drink, Watkins says, hits the taste buds with bitter and sweet and salty and sour.
“The first flavor you taste is going to be the balsamic reduction,” he says. “It’s very pronounced throughout the entire drink — it’s the one flavor profile that carries through. Once that hits your palate, the tomatoes take over, and as that subsides, it goes right to the grapes — the last thing you really taste is the vodka, which washes everything clean.”
HOW TO MAKE IT
In a cocktail shaker, muddle:
• 3 pear or grape tomatoes
• 9 red grapes
Fill with ice and add:
• 1 oz. white balsamic reduction*
• 2 oz. Ketel One vodka
Shake, strain into a martini glass, top with a leaf of fresh basil.
*White Balsamic Reduction
Reduce at low to medium heat:
• 8 oz. white balsamic vinegar
• ½ teaspoons sugar
Reduce ingredients in saucepan over low to medium heat for 8–10 minutes.