This is a Martini cocktail inspired by Thomas Mann’s novella Death in Venice and the subsequent film by Visconti, Morte a Venezia. The cocktail was invented by Robin Saikia and Tony Micelotta, bar manager of The Blue Bar at the Grand Hotel Excelsior on the Venice Lido. The aquavit alludes to the over-ripe strawberries eaten by Aschenbach in an attempt to quench his thirst following the onset of fever. The Cîroc vodka recalls the sirocco, the torrid Saharan wind mentioned that bedevils the Mediterranean in high summer and adds to Aschenbach’s tribulations in the novella. The unusual, slightly grappa-like taste, of the Cîroc perfectly complements the strawberry aquavit.
2.5 oz vodka, preferably Cîroc; Strawberry aquavit to taste; dry vermouth to taste; stir vodka and strawberry aquavit with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass sprayed with Italian vermouth. Garnish with lemon twist.