preface to going out in daylight*

Napoleon & the Classic Negroni

Today at we pay homage to process. possesses great reverence for process, the act of methodically and thoughtfully working through an undertaking. That undertaking could be as simple as brewing an espresso or writing a thank-you note. There is something highly satisfying about applying process to these tasks. Do we buy our coffee beans already roasted and ground, or do we roast them at home then grind them seconds before brewing the espresso? Do we type out a thank-you via email or do we fill a fountain pen with ink, cut a piece of mulberry paper and construct an envelope by hand? It all depends on your process and the qualities you want in the finished product.

In making the movie Napoleon, Ridley Scott was all about process. You will also see this in his iconic movie Blade Runner. (Scott did not direct the Blade Runner sequel, 2049, but we can add that movie’s director, Denis Villeneuve, to the pantheon of process masters.) Even if you don’t care about European history, or you prefer your movie-going experience devoid of battle scenes, gore and violence, you might embrace Napoleon if you are a student of process.

Scott’s attention to process shines through in three particular aspects of the film: the deep love between Napoleon Bonaparte and Jos├ęphine de Beauharnais; the epic battles orchestrated by Napoleon in Austerlitz and by Wellington in Waterloo (not to mention the Napoleon-led Siege of Toulon); and Napoleon’s escape from exile in Elba. Perhaps I should have taken this movie as an opportunity for leisure or to receive a narrative, but throughout the movie I was always acutely aware of process: the process by which Scott builds then tears down Napoleon and Jos├ęphine’s attachment, engineers CGI to recreate the cornering of soliders and horses onto a frozen lake, and portrays the utter boredom that begets strategy in Napoleon’s great escape from Elba. The effect of process in this movie was delicious, awful and heartbreaking.

I took my elderly parents to see Napoleon. My mom shrinks from movie violence (even though she can’t get enough of graphic news programs). My dad can’t sit still through movies and has the habit of talking loudly during them. And yet they were in awe of Napoleon. My mom didn’t bat an eye at beheading and cannon balls blowing through flesh, and I wasn’t sure my dad was still in the theater considering I didn’t hear a peep from him. Was this the effect of process? pairs Napoleon with another object of process, the classic Negroni. The Negroni is among the simplest of cocktails. It consists of equal parts of three ingredients: gin, red bitter liquer, and sweet vermouth. Process, however, has the potential to transform simple into extraordinary.

The Negroni starts with your choice of gin. Many traditionalists will use only Tanqueray Sevilla Orange. There is, however, a universe of craft gins out there. And then there is the very divisive question of red bitter liquer. Are you in the Campari or Aperol camp? As for sweet vermouth, mixologists argue about whether it should hail from France, Italy or Spain. Now we come to putting the cocktail together. Do you shake or stir? Ice or no ice? Garnish or no garnish?

All of this is up to you. shares its process for the Negroni only as an example. If you try it, we’d love your feedback.

  1. Arrange three equal shot glasses on your bar. In the first, pour Durham Distillery‘s Conniption American Dry, envisioned and made by a lovely group of women. In the second, pour Campari. chooses this over Aperol for its bracingly bitter bite. In the third, pour Boissiere sweet vermouth, developed in France but made in Italy, chosen as a nod to Napoleon’s connection to both countries.

2. Place a large ball of craft ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour the three shots over the ice. Gently stir the mixture with a cocktail spoon in only three revolutions.

3. Pour your cocktail through a strainer into any glass with a thin lip and solid base. Cut a half moon of blood orange. Eat the flesh and keep the rind. Twist the rind to release the oils and rub it around the rim of the glass then perch the rind on the glass’s lip.

4. Drink and daydream about the 18th century.

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