7863 Girard Avenue, San Diego
Catania’s cocktail menu holds a full offering of autumn nostalgia, including something called the Canella, created by Catania’s head bartender Cesar Sandoval.
The Canella was inspired, in name and content, by San Francisco liquor producer Joe Cannella, who boasts his own U.S.-made Italian amaro. It turns out, Sandoval says, Cannella’s Italian roots trace back to the same town for which the restaurant was named — Catania.
And even as the drink took three go-arounds for Cesar Sandoval to perfect, it came true through something as simple as boiling water.
“Originally I wanted to use apple brandy with the cocktail,” he says. “But I wanted those fall flavors without having it pre-bottled…. Then I tried infusing apples in the brandy, but the result had this mushroom earthiness to it. I didn’t like it.”
On the third try, the solution hit Sandoval like the proverbial apple smacking Isaac Newton’s pate.
“I made apple sauce,” he says. “We don’t make it super thick. It adds body to the cocktail, but the double-strain keeps the pulp out. There’s a slight grittiness but it’s not overwhelming where you think you’re eating sweet mashed potatoes....
“It is an introduction to the fall season but with a taste of summer in the lemon juice,” Sandoval says. “It’s well balanced and not overly sweet and the amaro adds the additional element of spice with the clove and star anise. The brandy warms it all up and fresh grated cinnamon on top adds aroma. You can drink it all year round but it definitely takes you to the October and November months.”
- 1 ½ oz. Reynal brandy
- ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
- ¾ oz. simple syrup
- ¼ oz. Amaro Cannella
- 1 dash Angostura
- 2 teaspoons Catania house-made apple sauce*
Shake in ice-filled cocktail tin, double-strain into coupe glass, and garnish with fan of apple slices and grated cinnamon.
*Catania apple sauce
- 2 apples, peeled, diced
- ¾ cup water
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 clove
- 1 ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- Reduce ingredients in saucepan, 40 minutes; refrigerate before serving.