Gin Feed

Nordic Beauty -- The Amber Aquatini

With its yellow and orange hues, amber can be a stunning gemstone. Ms. Cocktail Den and I saw a lot of amber jewelry when we traveled in Scandinavian countries. You know what else there's a lot of in Scandinavia? Aquavit. My original Amber Aquatini pays homage to the spirit and the stone.

Amber Aquatini2.5 ounces aged aquavit (I used Linie here)
.5 ounces dry vermouth
2 dashes bitters (see below)

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the cool crispness of a Scandinavian summer breeze, and strain into a glass, preferably martini or coupe. Lemon peel garnish optional.

Think of the Amber Aquatini as an older cousin of my Danish Road Rage, a twist (pun intended) on a Martini. The Danish Road Rage uses clear, young aquavit. For the Amber Aquatini, you really need aged aquavit to give it the right color. The bitters are the real variable. First I used cardamom, then I found orange bitters also work well. Don't have either of those? No problem. Most botanical or citrus flavored bitters should complement the aquavit and vermouth.

It doesn't matter whether or not you're nuts about Norway, fond of Finland, delighted by Denmark, or swooning over Sweden -- the Amber Aquatini will satisfy your eyes and tongue.


Rise From The Dead Again -- The Corpse Reviver #2

Does the name make you think of Dr. Frankenstein (or if you're a fan of Mel Brooks, "Frankensteen")? Corpse Revivers were a group of cocktails dating back to the late 19th century. Their purpose was to reinvigorate you (revive your corpse) the morning after a night of drinking. In 1930 Harry Craddock included the Corpse Reviver #2 in The Savoy Cocktail Book.

Corpse Reviver No. 2.75 ounces gin
.75 ounces Lillet Blanc
.75 ounces triple sec (I suggest Cointreau)
.75 ounces lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
Absinthe

Coat the inside of a chilled glass with absinthe, combine the other ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake with the jolt of a renewed lease on life, and strain into the chilled glass. Lemon twist garnish optional.

Bearing no resemblance to the Corpse Reviver #1, the Corpse Reviver #2 is the best known survivor of the group. Its four equal parts format makes it like the Last Word, which also includes gin. Just as it does in the Vesper, the Lillet Blanc, a French aperitif wine, melds nicely with the gin. Using a clear triple sec such as Cointreau will give the Corpse Reviver #2 a light, refreshing look to match how it tastes. Some versions of the Corpse Reviver #2 call for putting a small amount of absinthe directly into the cocktail (as you would with an When Ernest Met Mary) instead of using it to rinse the glass (as you would with a Sazerac). Do what you prefer.

As Craddock remarked, "Four of these taken in swift succession will un-revive the corpse again." Now you know about the Corpse Reviver #2's deceptive power, have fun reviving!


Monet and Mixing -- The Water Lily

Claude Monet painted the famous Water Lilies series at his garden in Giverny, France. I've never been there (Ms. Cocktail Den has), but she and I have had the good fortune to see some Water Lilies paintings in places such as the Musée de L'Orangerie and the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Richie Boccato created the Water Lily cocktail in New York in 2007.

Water Lily.75 ounces gin
.75 ounces triple sec
.75 ounces crème de violette
.75 ounces lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with a tempo evoking the placidly vivid colors of the paintings, and strain into a chilled glass.

Think of the Water Lily as combining the DNA of the Aviation with the format of the Last Word. The crème de violette gives the Water Lily its purplish hue. Keep in mind the purple color won't be as vibrant if you use a darker triple sec. Like other cocktails such as the Bijou or the Naked and Famous, the Water Lily is a bartender's dream because of its equal proportions.

Even though this Water Lily won't last nearly as long as Monet's, it gives you the opportunity to become a cocktail artist.


The Bitch Is Dead -- The Vesper

"The bitch is dead" -- this is what James Bond icily utters when he learns of the death of Vesper Lynd, the woman who broke his heart. In Casino Royale (both the novel and the movie starring Daniel Craig), Bond falls in love with Vesper before he learns she is a double agent. All of this happens after he creates a cocktail in her honor.

Vesper3 ounces gin
1 ounce vodka
.5 ounces Lillet Blanc

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the fury of Bond exacting vengeance, and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon peel garnish.

Bond’s original creation is not far removed from a Martini, either the original or his version. Bond's Vesper calls for “three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.” Gordon’s was and is a popular gin. Use whatever gin you prefer or have on hand.  Kina Lillet was a French aperitif wine.  It no longer exists under that name, but with a new formula it’s now known as Lillet Blanc. As you would with vermouth, make sure the Lillet Blanc is fresh and keep it in the fridge. If you can't find Lillet Blanc, dry vermouth is a good substitute. Bond never specifies the vodka brand, which amuses me because in popular culture he forever will be associated with vodka. If you or your guest is not a fan of gin (like I once was), adjust the ratios of gin and vodka.

The Vesper is a big cocktail because it contains four ounces of high proof alcohol.  Go Bond or go home.


M Is For Mystery -- The Martini

The Martini has been so famous and popular for so long, it should have a history as clear as it looks, right? If someone served you a Martini as murky as its history, you'd send it back. Its history is a mystery. Combining gin and vermouth in drinks such as the Martinez wasn't unusual in the 19th century. As time went by, the drinking public began to favor drier gins, and by 1896 what we now know as the Martini mixed dry gin and dry vermouth with an emphasis on the gin.

Martini2.5 ounces gin (sorry James Bond)
.5 ounces dry vermouth
1-2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir (sorry again Mr. Bond), and strain into a martini glass. Lemon peel garnish optional.

The world’s most famous fictitious Martini consuming Englishman drinks his with vodka (and shaken). The world’s most famous real Martini consuming Englishman, Winston Churchill, drank his with gin. Originally I only drank vodka Martinis, but since I found I like certain gins, I'm not as picky. Whatever you do, use fresh vermouth. I can't emphasize that enough. Feel free to experiment with how dry you like your Martini (more dry means less vermouth). Bitters aren't necessary, but they add a little zest to a clear, gin based cocktail. 

There's nothing mysterious about a Martini. All you have to do is savor one.


And Cocktail -- The Ampersand

Signifying "and," the ampersand is a common symbol in the English language (& it makes me think of the late great musical genius Prince). The ampersand symbol dates back a couple of centuries, when children were taught it was the 27th letter of the alphabet. The Ampersand cocktail dates to 1934, when it appeared in Albert Stevens Crockett's The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. The story is the Ampersand was named for the "&" in Martini & Rossi vermouth.

Ampersand1 ounce brandy
1 ounce Old Tom gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
.25 ounces curaçao (optional)

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir & stir & stir, then strain into a chilled glass.

The Ampersand is a boozy cocktail. The base of three spirits in equal proportions is reminiscent of other underrated classic drinks such as the Bijou. Brandy and Old Tom style gin together? Yes, it looks weird, but it works. Combining Old Tom style gin and sweet vermouth is part of the classic Martinez, so if you like that drink you'll like this one (& vice versa). You could use the more prevalent London Dry style gin in an Ampersand, but then the drink won't be quite as complex (this is one of those times when complexity is a good thing). Curaçao is a type of triple sec (orange liqueur), and if you don't have curacao, Grand Marnier is a good substitute.

Now have some fun & go make yourself an Ampersand!


A Cocktail Of Light -- The Parisian

Known as the "City of Light," Paris is one of the great cities of the world. Ms. Cocktail Den and I have been fortunate enough to explore iconic sites such as the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Élysées, as well as cocktail landmarks to know We'll Always Have Paris. In 1930 the Parisian cocktail appeared in The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock. I slightly adapted the recipe.

Parisian1.25 ounces gin
1.25 ounces dry vermouth
.75 ounces crème de cassis

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with Parisian joie de vivre, and strain into a chilled glass.

Crème de cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur used in cocktails such as the classic Kir. It's pretty sweet, so you need something to counterbalance it. That's where the gin and dry vermouth, foundations of the classic Martini, come in.  Aside from a Burnt Fuselage or Scofflaw, normally I wouldn't use more than an ounce of dry vermouth in any cocktail, but it works well in a Parisian (the original has equal proportions of all ingredients, so if you prefer sweeter drinks make it that way). Its rich purple color reminds me of the liveliness of Paris and its people. 

Want your cocktail life to shine even brighter? Have a Parisian.


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.