DOTW: Strega-nator

Posted by Anita on 09.28.07 7:11 AM

(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reservedThe folks at The Spirit World sure picked a doozy for the inaugural episode of their “Raiders of the Lost Cocktail” challenge. I spent many evenings thumbing through my bar library, searching for recipes featuring Liquore Strega, and found precisely one mention of this saffron-tinted herbal liqueur.

Excitement quickly turned to despair as I noted the drink’s name: The Strega-nator.

Oh, please. Spirits snob that I am, I didn’t give it so much as a second glance. There’s no way in hell I am making a drink called the Strega-nator, much less putting it on the blog. I’d never be able to show my face at Mixology Monday again! I headed back to the drawing board, muttering under my breath about slapped-together cocktails with frat-boy names, cursing the editors who foist them on their unsuspecting readers.

Next, I hit the public library. Even among dozens of titles both old and new, I didn’t uncover many options. My curiosity was piqued, though, by a UK-published book that suggested mixing Strega with Orange Smash Squash. I consulted our City’s guru of British comestibles, who promptly dashed my hopes again. Orange Squash was nothing short of “putrid” said Sam: “I wouldn’t trust anyone who suggests you put it in a cocktail.” (After having personally sampled it — I found a bottle in the British foods section at Mollie Stone’s — I’m inclined to agree. It’s something like the bastard stepchild of SunnyD and Hi-C Orange, neither of which has any place in my kitchen, much less my bar.)

Once you’ve sunk to the depths of imported kiddie-colored juice substitutes, there’s nowhere to go but up. Having all the necessary ingredients on hand, I grudgingly gave the Strega-nator a whirl. And damned if it wasn’t tasty. Especially considering that it has no base liquor as its spine, it’s a fine drink. Well-balanced, nuanced, perhaps a tad sweet for my taste, but the herbal finish is quite bewitching. After much hand-wringing, I came to the realization that we’d all lived through one Drink of the Week with a god-awful name; why not make it a pair?

Unfortunately, I can’t imagine that a cocktail recipe published 18 months ago could really be considered “lost” for the purposes of the challenge. (Unless, of course, everyone else took one look at the name and flipped right past it, too — a distinct possibility.) I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, plus a full bottle of Strega and enough time before the challenge ends; there just might be another entry in the works.

As Arnold would say: “I’ll be back.”

(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved

- published in Food & Wine Cocktails 2006
credited to BLT Prime, New York City

2 oz Strega
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz chilled club soda
1 orange wedge, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Strega and juices, and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, and top with club soda. Garnish with the orange wedge.

cookbooks, Drink of the Week, drinks, other blogs



Comment by erik_flannestad

Oh, sure, now I see why there was no Strega at the Bayshore Bevmo!

Posted on 09.28.07 at 9:17AM

Comment by sam

‘squash’ not ‘smash’!

Posted on 09.28.07 at 9:51AM

Comment by Anita

Erik: Hmm, there were three there on Wednesday. :)

Sam: Eek, thanks. One of these days I am going to stop writing these at bedtime on Thursday night. :S

Posted on 09.28.07 at 9:59AM

Comment by murray stenson

Try a Strega Daiquiri:

1 oz. Strega
1 oz. Silver Rum
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. orange juice
Orgeat syrup to taste
Maraschino cherry


Posted on 09.28.07 at 12:24PM

Comment by cookiecrumb

Oh, hell. Call it a Stregasaurus.
(Ask me any time.)

Posted on 09.28.07 at 4:45PM

Comment by Anita

Murray: Sounds tasty, indeed. Robert wrote about it (and its popularity at a certain seattle establishment) on Spirit World just a couple of days ago, in fact.

Cookie: You crack me up! The name is only the first thing I’d have changed about this drink, if it were up to me. But the challenge here is to resurrect an old recipe, not to invent a new one. It was nearly impossible not to tinker with it!

Posted on 09.28.07 at 4:52PM

Comment by chez Denise et Laudalino

YUM! I love your drinks! By the way I was reading the SF GATE today & fell upon one of your ingredients – Violette – thought of your site as soon as I read it! Here is the link …
By the way, how do we find out about the Mixology Mondays? We would love to par-take!

Posted on 09.28.07 at 7:49PM

Comment by Anita

Hi Denise — Thanks for the kind words. I saw the violette article, too — Gary Regan’s column is awesome.

Mixology Monday is hosted by a rotating set of bloggers. The main homepage is here, but (as you can see) it’s not always 100% up to date. The next few topics are already set through the end of the year. Here’s a list. Usually the host will put up an announcement post on his or her blog a few weeks out, explaining how to submit your entry. Paul (at Cocktail Chronicles) usually reminds people, too, and he’s in charge of picking hosts, so that’s one place to look if you don’t read a lot of cocktail blogs regularly.

Posted on 09.29.07 at 8:01AM

Comment by Rocky

I’ve been drinking Strega and soda all summer long, it makes a nice easy alternative to gin and tonics.

Posted on 10.01.07 at 11:48PM

Pingback by The Spirit World - » Raiders of the Lost Cocktail #1

[...] You can find Anita’s commentary about this recipe on her blog as well. [...]

Posted on 10.29.07 at 7:12PM

Comment by Fred Dexheimer

All Hail the Strega-Nator!

I remember coming up with this in 2005 and I just happened to revisit this drink last night.


Sorry about the name!!! ;-)

Glad you liked the drink!

Fred Dexheimer, MS

Posted on 03.13.09 at 11:13AM

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