Early in the pandemic, Simon Davidson, who chronicles the Charlottesville, Virginia, food scene in his popular blog the Charlottesville 29, posted about a cocktail he’d concocted at home as “a gift for socially distancing recluses.” (As you may recall of those days, everyone was baking bread, or draining liquor cabinets, or both.) In this case, he started with the harmonious pairing of Campari and sweet vermouth, but he couldn’t decide whether to add gin for a negroni or bourbon for a boulevardier, both classic cocktails with an alluring sweet-bitter balance. That’s when he called upon the sage advice his father would offer when faced with two appealing options, such as where to dine or what dessert to order: Why not both? “The result has the roundness from bourbon, while still the brightness of gin,” says Davidson, who promptly dubbed his creation Dad’s Counsel.
The cocktail took on fresh meaning last year when the passing of Davidson’s father again brought back such pearls of fatherly wisdom. “Recently, around the anniversary of his death, I began ordering a Dad’s Counsel at bars,” he says. Sometimes he’d need to list all the ingredients, sometimes he’d just request a negroni with whiskey. “Bartenders were always willing and often intrigued,” he says. “It’s a safe order because as long as the Campari and the vermouth are equal parts, the amounts of gin and whiskey just depend on how much you want of each. For the recipe, I specify brands from my original, but other brands can be substituted. Dad wouldn’t object.”