Gin Feed

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 drinks such as the classic Kir or my original Bourbon Renaissance. Almost a full ounce of pretty sweet liqueur needs something to counterbalance it. That's where the gin and dry vermouth come in.  Aside from a Burnt Fuselage or Scofflaw, normally I wouldn't use an ounce or more of dry vermouth in any cocktail, but it works well in a Parisian (the original has equal proportions of all ingredients). 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.


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!