Gin Feed

A Muppet Cocktail -- The Kermit The Frog Is Strong

When we were kids Ms. Cocktail Den and I were big Muppets fans. Kermit the Frog is one of the most famous Muppets. Even though he is physically weaker than some of his friends, e.g. Miss Piggy, he more than makes up for it with his honor, friendliness, and positive attitude. Continuing the tradition of a new original creation in a new year, the Kermit The Frog Is Strong pays tribute to his character.

Kermit the Frog is Strong1.5 ounces gin
.5 ounces Barrow's Intense (see below)
.5 ounces green Chartreuse
.5 ounces Midori
Juice from 1/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the frenzy of Kermit waving his arms as he exclaims "Yay!!!!!", and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime peel garnish optional.

Use whatever gin you like. I highly recommend Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur for the Kermit The Frog Is Strong. Even though I'm biased because Ms. Cocktail Den and I are very small investors, Barrow's Intense gives you a far cleaner ginger flavor than its competitors. Clearly you have to use green Chartreuse (instead of yellow as you would in an Alaska). Combining green Chartreuse with gin and lime juice works very well in the Last Word, and it does the same here. Midori, a melon liqueur, keeps the Kermit The Frog Is Strong from being too tart, and it adds more green color. 

As Kermit might tell you, sometimes it's not easy being green. It's easy with a Kermit The Frog Is Strong.


Cocktail GPS -- The Navigator

Navigating helps you get where you're going. When Ms. Cocktail Den and I travel on vacation, she's frequently the navigator. If it wasn't for her, we might still be lost on picturesque desert highways in New Mexico, empty rural roads in Ireland, or the congested urban maze of Bangkok.  The Navigator comes from London, where Jamie Terrell created it in 2005.

Navigator2 ounces gin
.75 ounces lupo limoncello
Juice from 1/4 grapefruit

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're zipping across the waves or through the sky, and strain into a chilled glass. Grapefruit peel garnish optional.  

If you're looking for a surprisingly pleasant sour drink, the Navigator is it. Gin pairs well with lemon, e.g. the Bee's Knees, and lime, e.g. the Last Word, so there's no reason it wouldn't pair well with grapefruit. The Navigator brings gin together with two citrus flavors. The sugar in the limoncello keeps the Navigator from overpowering you with citrus and botanicals. The flavor balance could come at a price if you're not careful. Overindulge in Navigators and you could end up way off course, both literally and sobrietally. 

To paraphrase the Bible verse, seek a Navigator and you shall find a really good drink.


Don't Do It With This Drink -- The Procrastination

I'll get to it later. Tomorrow. Next week. We've all procrastinated. Maybe you're doing it right now. The Procrastination is a cocktail that's definitely worth reading about and drinking. Paul Clarke in Seattle created the Procrastination, and I slightly adapted the recipe after discovering it in Difford's Guide.

Procrastination2 ounces gin
.75 ounces Lupo limoncello
.5 ounces dry vermouth
.25 ounces green Chartreuse

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir slowly as if you're procrastinating, and strain into a glass, preferably a coupe. Lemon peel garnish optional.

The Procrastination is smooth and strong. Its combination of gin, vermouth, and citrus flavor is reminiscent of my Gintringuing, and the combination of gin, limoncello, and Chartreuse makes it similar to a Lemony (which I also learned about courtesy of Difford's Guide). The green Chartreuse, used in drinks such as the Last Word and the Tipperary, adds a little kick to the Procrastination. The difference between Clarke's original and my version is simple -- Clarke calls for 1/6 ounce of Chartreuse, and I just rounded up to a quarter ounce to make my life easier.

Now stop procrastinating and make yourself a Procrastination.


A Sharp Olympic Drink -- The Lucien Gaudin

Hailing from France, Lucien Gaudin was an Olympic champion fencer in the 1920s.  Fencing as in trying to stab someone with one of three blade types.  Unlike the clear record of Gaudin's victories in three different Olympics (I'm a huge fan of the movie Chariots of Fire, part of which takes place at the 1924 Olympics in Paris), the origin of the Lucien Gaudin cocktail is hazy.

Lucien Gaudin1 ounce gin (bonjour Botanist)
.5 ounces Cointreau (c'est français comme Monsieur Gaudin)
.5 ounces Campari (mon ami italien)
.5 ounces dry vermouth (je t'aime Noilly Prat)

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the strategic precision of a fencer, and strain into a chilled glass. Orange peel garnish optional.

Some people describe the Lucien Gaudin as a variation on the classic Negroni. To me it's more Negroni adjacent. A true variation would have equal proportions of three spirits and some crossover. The Bijou and the Luck of the Irish are good examples. I know this is a fine point (pun intended). Cocktail technicalities aside, the Lucien Gaudin is lighter than a Negroni and is very pink. Do you like French themed cocktails? Try a Champs Elysees or a Burnt Fuselage.  Want something more on point (sorry, I can't help myself)?  Try an Ides of March or a Stiletto.

Have a Lucien Gaudin, cue the Chariots of Fire theme, and be victorious!


Not North But -- The Southside

Like drinks such as the Margarita and the Jack Rose, the origin story of the Southside is hazy. In the late 19th century the Southside Sportsmen's Club in Long Island featured an eponymous cocktail with soda water. During Prohibition, the no fizz Southside became associated with two cities. New York was home to the 21 Club, a premier speakeasy that served a lot of them to thirsty Scofflaws. It also was popular on the South Side of Chicago, where the Racketeer Al Capone plied his trade. This is the variation I prefer.

Southside2.25 ounces gin
Juice from 1/2 lemon or 3/4 lime
.75 ounces super simple syrup
5-7 mint leaves

To make the Southside, you have two options: (1) Muddle the mint and super simple syrup in a shaker, then add everything else and ice, shake as if you're playing in a tough tennis match, and strain into a chilled glass, or (2) combine everything in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're fighting for control of organized crime, and strain into a chilled glass.  Mint leaf garnish optional.

Lemon or lime? Fresh squeezed juice or citrus wedges? Muddle or not? Granulated sugar or super simple syrup? Ask five bartenders and you may get five different answers. As long as you stick to the basic formula (gin sour and mint), there's no wrong answer. If you use lime, the Southside more or less becomes a gin Mojito. Gin and lemon go well together in the Bee's Knees and the Lemony, and they do here, too.

Pairing the refreshing Southside with music I can go to multiple destinations. Maybe I'll go Southbound with the Allman Brothers, to Sweet Home Chicago with Buddy Guy or the Blues Brothers, or to New York, New York with the one and only Frank Sinatra. All of these musical options are like the Southside itself -- many ways to get there, all of them good.


A Spiritual Playboy Cocktail -- The Cloister

A cloister is an architectural feature in monasteries, convents, and other religious institutions.  The Cloister is a drink that comes from an unquestionably non-religious institution: the Playboy Bartender's Guide. Published in 1971, the book and the Cloister are my age. In 2011 Jim Meehan, who created the Brown Bomber and the Newark, mentioned the drink in his PDT Cocktail Book.

Cloister1.5 ounces gin
.5 ounces yellow Chartreuse
Juice from 1/8 grapefruit
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.25 ounces super simple syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the resonant rhythm of a Gregorian chant (which I like), and strain into a chilled glass.  Grapefruit peel garnish optional.

Considering the word cloister, either used as a noun or verb, frequently comes up in connection with monks, it's no surprise the Cloister contains Chartreuse. As we see in cocktails such as the Last Word, gin and green Chartreuse go well together, but for the Cloister you want to go yellow. The Phil Collins also combines gin and yellow Chartreuse, which is a key part of non-gin drinks such as the Diamondback. Along with the super simple syrup, the yellow Chartreuse keeps the Cloister from being overwhelmingly tart.

Have a Cloister, and you may have a, dare I say, religious experience.


Cocktail Fun While It Lasts -- The One Night Stand

Many people have had a one night stand at some point.  Are you thinking about one right now? Put aside your X-rated memories and focus on this cocktail creation from Brian Ireland and Demetri Karnessis. I discovered it in Chilled magazine.

One Night Stand2 ounces gin
.5 ounces Aperol
.5 ounces triple sec
Juice from 1/4 grapefruit

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake like (do you really need an analogy here?), and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel garnish optional.

Ireland and Karnessis use a particular brand of gin in the One Night Stand, but they don't call for a specific triple sec (a generic term for an orange liqueur). I like Cointreau, which I use in my Cancer Killer #1 and the Margarita. If you prefer a different triple sec, go for it.  Aperol, a part of the Naked and Famous and my Venetian Kiss, is a lighter amaro. Combine all of these spirits with the grapefruit juice, and you'll get an undeniably pink drink. If you like the One Night Stand, you might like similarly themed drinks such as the Intense Ginger Sutra and the Hanky Panky.

Enjoy the One Night Stand, but recognize too many could lead to something bad -- a hangover or something a Penicillin won't cure. Cheers!


Sometimes The Grass Is Greener -- the Verdant Lady

What type of lady? I admit I had to look up the word "verdant" to confirm it means what I thought it did. Let me save you a minute -- it means a rich green color, especially in connection with grass or vegetation. The history behind the Verdant Lady is far less clear than the meaning of the word "verdant." It may have originated in San Francisco around 2007. Past that I can't tell you. Despite its hazy past, the Verdant Lady lady is crisp, cool, and a lot stronger than it looks.

Verdant Lady1.5 ounces gin
.5 ounces green Chartreuse
.5 ounces super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lime
5-6 mint leaves

Muddle the mint, lime juice, and super simple syrup in the base of a shaker, add the two liquors and ice, shake with the forceful elegance of a true lady, and strain into a chilled glass. Mint garnish optional.

The Verdant Lady resembles a lot of other good cocktails. The Whiskey Smash and the Mint Julep immediately come to my mind (a smash has citrus, a julep does not). My fellow cocktailian Jeff Moore, who introduced me to the Verdant Lady, accurately describes the drink as a gin and Chartreuse smash.  The combination of gin and green Chartreuse is reminiscent of a Last Word. And last but not least, it shares gin and part of its name with the White Lady. Comparisons aside, the Verdant Lady stands out on its own and is very green.

People frequently think the grass is greener on the other side, but usually it isn't. The Verdant Lady is a tasty exception.


Ask Not What Your Cocktail Can Do -- The Fitzgerald

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." This memorable call to action in President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's inaugural address inspired and challenged Americans in 1961. Roughly 40 years later legendary bartender and author Dale DeGroff created the Fitzgerald at the Rainbow Room in New York. Compared to its original name (Gin Thing), the name Fitzgerald evokes more class.

Fitzgerald2 ounces gin
1 ounce super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're excited to have a drink with a certain President (JFK) or author (F. Scott Fitzgerald), and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon wedge garnish optional.

The Fitzgerald is easy to make, tasty, and refreshing.  It is more or less the gin equivalent of a Whiskey Sour or a Lemon Drop with bitters. DeGroff uses an ounce and a half of gin to an ounce of simple syrup, but I like the Fitzgerald better with a 2:1 ratio. The bitters make it vaguely pink. Reputedly President Kennedy preferred a Daiquiri or a Bloody Mary, but my guess is he would have had a Fitzgerald or three while going toe to toe with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis (read a book about it or see the movie Thirteen Days). Feeling Presidential? Think about having a Roosevelt, a Fireside Chat, or an El Presidente.

And so my fellow cocktailians -- ask not what a Fitzgerald can make for you, ask when you can make a Fitzgerald.


A Cold And Beautiful Cockail -- The Alaska

Alaska is a state unlike any other in the United States of America.  Ms. Cocktail Den and I have had the good fortune to visit the 49th and by far the northernmost state. The Alaska first appeared in 1913 in Straub's Manual of Mixed Drinks by bartender Jacques Straub. More than 100 years later, it still is strikingly elegant.

Alaska2 ounces Old Tom gin
1 ounce yellow Chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the sharp edged grace of a glacier calving (I've seen it happen and it is amazing), and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe.

If you see an Alaska on a cocktail menu these days, it's most likely to have the ubiquitous London Dry style of gin. Go with Old Tom style gin, which you'll see in a classic Martinez, if you can. Not only is it authentic, but Old Tom style gin makes the Alaska a richer experience.  Yellow Chartreuse, which you can use in drinks such as the Renegade, is an integral component of this cocktail. There are multiple variations of the Alaska, and this is the one I prefer. Even though there are many things in the state of Alaska that are potentially deadly (bears, ridiculously low temperatures), the Alaska drink is not potentially deadly as long as you remember to cocktail responsibly.

Whether or not you've been to the unique state of Alaska, it's time to savor this cold beauty of a cocktail!