It was autumn when I met up with my fellow oyster- and booze-lover Autumn, following through on our plan to introduce her to the architectural and gustatory glories of the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Feeling a bit grandiose and celebratory after filling our stomachs with chilled oyster bellies, we repaired upstairs to the Campbell Apartment, another of Manhattan’s semi-hidden treasures.
The Campbell Apartment, despite what its name implies, was never a private apartment; back in the 1920s, when titans of industry could do such things as live in buildings like Grand Central, banker and railroad magnate John W. Campbell used the rooms as his private office and salon. Now it’s a bar—er, excuse me, it’s a “cocktail lounge.”
It’s a dark, imposing space with high ceilings, double-height leaded glass windows, walls lined in deep, walnut-toned wood, and is often filled with Midtowny masters of the universe in their button-down shirts. Swank, old-world power and masculinity is very much on display at the Campbell Apartment; it’s the kind of place where you want to drink a Manhattan or at the very least, a nice tumbler of Scotch.
Yet somehow I ended up ordering the girliest thing on the menu.
Clearly inspired by the classic Italian Aperol spritz, the drink I chose mixed the bitter aperitvo Aperol with another Italian standard, Carpano Antica vermouth, and a healthy glug of fresh blood orange juice. The bitter Aperol fell to the background, the warm cinnamon-and-vanilla notes of the Carpano blended with the orange juice, and the whole thing became a refreshingly sweet drink that… well, it tasted like a Creamsicle in a glass.
Drinking a sugary pink cocktail would have been appropriate for a beach bar or even a patio somewhere in Brooklyn, but in the middle of Manhattan’s most manly, swank, and historic spaces felt very out of place. Hence the words incongruous, contradictory, out of place, running through my head. But damn if the drink wasn’t good. If it weren’t $14, I do believe I would have ordered another.
It’s also a cinch to make at home, with only three ingredients necessary to transport you to a sunny clime… or a dark, opulent wood-and-marble-paneled bar in a landmark setting, as you do. Carpano’s a pricey bottle of liquor to buy, but it lasts forever in the refrigerator, so it’s a worthwhile outlay of cash. And if blood oranges aren’t in season, feel free to substitute Cara Caras, Valencias, or the juice from plain old navel oranges to complete the cocktail. Just make sure to juice ‘em fresh for the drink.
The Campbell Creamsicle
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Makes 2 drinks
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) blood orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz.) Carpano Antica vermouth
- 2 tablespoons (1 fl. oz.) Aperol
- additional club soda or seltzer (optional)
Fill two rocks glasses or highball glasses with crushed ice or small ice cubes.
Stir the orange juice, Carpano, and Aperol together in a pint glass or half of a Boston shaker. Pour evenly between the two prepared glasses and top with club soda, if desired.