Our test kitchen director Kellie loves Dubonnet – over ice, with a twist, just like Barbra Streisand's character in The Way We Were. When Kellie first saw the movie back in college, she had no clue what Dubonnet was, but went out right away to buy a bottle of this sweet fortified wine, because – and who doesn't? – she wanted to be just like Barbra. Kellie wound up running our test kitchen instead of following a more Streisand-inspired path, but when she realized that some of us in the office had never tasted her favorite aperitif, she pulled a bottle of Dubonnet Rouge off the shelf and started mixing up drinks.
Dubonnet was created by Parisian chemist Joseph Dubonnet in 1846; he blended the anti-malarial quinine with fortified wine with herbs, and spices, in an effort to make the medicine more palatable to French soldiers then stationed in North Africa. Just like quinine's more famous vehicle, tonic water, the bitter edge it lends to Dubonnet blends well with gin. (The mixture was reportedly a favorite beverage of the late Queen Mother.) For today's cocktail, Kellie wanted us to try something light and refreshing. On its own, Dubonnet already has a lot going on, so we didn't want to muddy it with too many other elements. Its herbal notes and nutty richness had us craving orange, so in went some fresh squeezed orange juice, and the whole thing was topped off with sparkling water. We're dubbing it Dubonnet a l'Orange, and we're pretty sure Barbra Streisand would be a fan.