Back in 1988, Jean-Claude Van Damme appeared in a clunker of a martial arts film, Black Eagle. At Williamsburg's Caribbean snack den Battery Harris, head barman Saul Ranella's drink of the same name (funnily enough, all of his cocktails are an ode to the Belgian actor's high-action flicks) is in the midst of a far more compelling run.
"Amaro tends to be perceived as heavy and aggressive," Ranella explains, but despite Averna's starring role in the Black Eagle, this summer-light libation is an invitingly flirty spin on a sour. "Like a margarita, you can easily have two of them."
Thanks to a punch of soda water, the quenching post-jerk chicken palate cleanser is topped with a sophisticated crown of beer-worthy froth. Underneath, caramel and vanilla whiskey notes intermingle with agave nectar, fresh lime juice and lively mint. The latter ingredient, points out Ranella, "has a habit of making any cocktail refreshing."
1 ½ oz. Averna
½ oz. aged whiskey
¾ oz. light agave nectar
1 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
3 to 4 sprigs of fresh mint
Combine all ingredients in shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into chilled highball glass. Top with a quick press of soda water to create a froth. Garnish with mint.