I decided to update this little piece I did on Kous Kous because enough good things cannot be said about this restaurant, and because I just submitted the cocktail detailed here into a contest. As a promotional contest Art of the Cocktail asked for a new Aperol cocktail and I just so happened to have one. Aperol is a delightful Italian bitter aperitif with flavors of orange and rhubarb.
One of my favorite San Diego restaurants is Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro in Hillcrest. I started going there years ago on the suggestion of Ish from A Fine Kettle of Ish and loved the food and the atmosphere. The owner, Moumen, came out of the kitchen and greeted us. Months later we came back and he remembered us. For years, every time we went in, the service and food were great and we got a really personal and friendly greeting from Moumen. He loves his customers, we love his food and he always makes us feel like family. He also has a great happy hour deals and daily specials featuring half-price cocktails and Moroccan tapas. I know I am gushing, but places like this are hard to find.
He is also doing some cool things with his bar. The cocktail menu is full of fun and quite delicious Moroccan-themed drinks. I am not calling Kous Kous a craft cocktail bar by any definition, but the dining experience is punctuated by some really interesting drinks. I am happy to say that I did a few things to help nudge them along.
One night while hanging out at his bar and talking cocktails Moumen challenged me to come up with something that would use his lonely, dusty old bottle of Aperol. My immediate response was to sit up in my bar stool and say “grab the gin!” I then had him toss in some Aperol and some triple sec for some added sweetness. As luck would have it I had just brought him a bottle of grapefruit bitters to use in his gin and tonics, which we then used to complete the drink. There was some playing with the ratios and some debating over the name. We settled on the right proportions, but not on the name for the “Flower of Marrakesh” or as he calls it “The African Autumn.” His name was chosen in honor of one of his customers who was, I think the first one to order the drink. Regardless of what you call it, it is a hit with all of our friends and we seem to be constantly running low on Aperol. As an added bonus, Kous Kous is now stocking grapefruit bitters (no small victory), and I am very proud to say that they have a cocktail I created on the menu called The African Autumn.
Go to Kous Kous and order my drink!
The African Autumn (Flower of Marrakesh)
2 ounces London Dry Gin
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters
Pour the ingredients into a vessel full of ice, Stir gently to chill (do not shake) and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a fresh piece of lemon peel, making sure to get a healthy spray of lemon oil over the top of the drink. Rub the peel skin side down around the rim of the glass and slide gently into the drink. Smell it and you are transported to the orange groves of Marrakesh or Italy. Taste it and you know that this is one seriously delicious cocktail where Aperol is the star.
Ready for Another Round?