Category Archives: Gin

Lost and found

As most of you already know, two classic lost ingredients have started peppering liquor stores again–absinthe and crème de violette. I found the Lucid absinthe about a month ago, but it was only last week that I finally tracked down this beauty:


The first damn thing I did with it was to mix a proper Aviation, using Paul Clarke‘s recipe on Serious Eats.

What a revelation. The violette lifts this drink above the clouds, and it’s easy to picture yourself in the cocktail lounge of a Pan Am Clipper sipping this drink.

Then, last night, I remembered my vow to work through the absinthe cocktails in the Savoy. I grabbed my copy and started flipping through. I don’t really have a plan to work through them in order or anything like that. If a drink sounds good and we have all the ingredients, I’ll test it out. So it’s just coincidence that I landed in the A’s, with the Atty Cocktail.

I don’t know the meaning of the name. While stomping around on eGullet, Erik Ellestad suggests that it might come from the common abbreviation for attorney–which is ironic, given that Mrs. Bitters is a lawyer-coddler. Erik notes of the drink that

it is a fascinating, elegant and complex thing, with the hints of Absinthe and Violet trading each other for flavor dominance as you sip.

Atty!Couldn’t put it better myself. I didn’t quite use his proportions, instead crunching through the math in my head to adapt the Savoy formula (one part vermouth, three parts gin, and three dashes each of violette and absinthe) into an ounce-based recipe.

So, my version of the Atty.

Atty Cocktail

  • 3/4-oz. French vermouth
  • 2 1/2-oz. gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1/4-tsp. crème de violette (Rothman and Winter)
  • 1/4-tsp. absinthe (Lucid)

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

The drink suffered from a not-long-enough stir, so be sure to either stir it well or shake it to make sure it’s properly chilled.

The Flying Cucumber

Dunno how summer’s treating you where you are. Here in BKLN NYC, the weather’s been unpredictable all summer. Be that as it may, here’s a great drink for your Labor Day weekend.

I’m calling this the Flying Cucumber because of its obvious origins in the Aviation. The Martin Miller’s is good for this because it has definite cuke notes, but Hendrick’s would probably work well, too. Here’s a piccy of it; the recipe’s after the jump.

The Flying Cucumber

photograph by Jennifer Hess

Flying Cucumber

Technique: Muddle two cucumber slices in a mixing glass, and then add:

  • 2 oz. Martin Miller’s gin
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. St.-Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Shake over ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cucumber slices or strips of peel.

MxMo: Hair of the devil

mxmo18-orangeIt’s fitting that this month’s MxMo should be about orange. Some of the first mixed drinks I ever quaffed had orange juice as an ingredient. In fact, I’ll let you in on an embarrassing secret, one that will no doubt get me 86’d from any bar that any of you might happen to tend or haunt… one of those orangey drinks was <cough>fzynvl</cough>. What can I say?! I was 14!

As an adult I traded up to the screwdriver, but it wasn’t long before that just seemed boring. I mean, voddy and OJ? Let me tell ya something, buddy–that crap’s just watered-down fruit juice.

And now, unfortunately, although I love orange juice, I seldom mix with it. Mrs. Bitters is allergic, I’m afraid. She can have neither orange nor grapefruit. Luckily, other citrus is clear, and that’s a good thing because without lemon or lime at my disposal, I wouldn’t bother with this site.

But that brings us to today’s MxMo, hosted by the zodiacal intoxicant herself, Gwen. The theme, orange.
Continue reading MxMo: Hair of the devil

Still more on gin tasting

I’ve finally made the time to watch Robert Hess’s interview with Sean Harrison, master distiller of Plymouth Gin.

Harrison recommends a tasting method that I’d like to try

You’ve got to sit down in a bar, take a gin, add some water to it–a one-to-one with water–and get your nose in it and have a taste…. If you really want to get in to it, line every single gin up there is in the bar, put it in to a wine glass… and one-to-one with water and try it.

The entire interview is good, though, as he talks about developing and marketing gin; he’s also forthright that the flavor profiles of different gins mean you might use one gin for a certain drink and a different gin for another drink.

Soixante Seize

I don’t know how many variants there are on the French 75, but they all seem to take a name that involves fiddling with the number: French 75, French 74, French 76, et cetera. This weekend’s drink is no exception.

I started with the beautiful bottle of St-Germain elderflower liqueur that Jen bought me on Friday. Because we commemorate our Friday wedding every week with a tradition we call Fizzy Friday, I wanted a drink with champagne. Luckily, a French 77 was among the drinks listed in the cute little booklet that hangs from the neck of the St-Germain bottle.

French 77? 78?Created by Simon Difford, brand consultant for St-Germain and well-known drinks scribbler, the French 77 calls for a shot of St-Germain and a quarter shot of lemon juice poured into a chilled glass and topped with champagne. (Image at right by Jennifer Hess.)

This wasn’t quite what I had in mind, though, mainly because I wanted some gin. I also didn’t want to chill the glassware. Although I’ve no problem chucking cocktail glasses into the freezer, my champagne flutes are a little fragile and I’m more than a little clumsy. Filling glasses with ice water never quite gets them cold enough for my tastes.

So I decided to shake everything but the champagne. Had I just won the Super Bowl or the Mega Millions jackpot, I’d have been happy to shake the fizzy and spray it around the backyard, but such was not the case. After shaking the gin, lemon juice, and St-Germain, I lifted a sample out with a bar spoon and realized two things:

  1. This would be a tasty drink on its own.
  2. And, oh yeah, it already is a tasty drink on its own.

(Even having read Anita and Cameron’s post earlier Friday, I didn’t connect the dots until sampling the pre-fizzy form of our drink.)

Soixante Seize

  • 2 oz. gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ oz. St-Germain liqueur

Technique: Shake over cracked ice and fine-strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne.

In this formulation, the St-Germain is perhaps too subtle. I mixed again with a bit more of the liqueur but didn’t take note of the proportions. Equal amounts of lemon and liqueur would work best for this, I think, especially since the lemon and elderflower meld so well.

Be sure to read Anita and Cameron’s post on Le Bourget to see their thoughts on the lemon/elderflower marriage. Also, if you’ve not seen the lovely St-Germain bottle, check their photoset for this drink.

Gin, bathtub not included

As promised, Jen and I tasted a sampling of seven gins, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Parker. These were remnants of bottles bought and mostly drunk over the last several months, so there was no real logic to what gins we were sampling. In alphabetical order, we tasted

  • Aviation
  • Bombay
  • Bulldog
  • Hendricks
  • Junipero
  • Plymouth
  • Tanqueray

Gin tastingThe gin was served neat, at room temperature, in identical glassware. It was a blind tasting for Jen, but not for me since I poured the gins and kept them in an order where I’d be able to identify them later. We took rough notes and in tasting the gins, we came to realize some of the shortcomings of the methodology I used.

First, I don’t think serving the gins neat was the right choice. The Hendricks, for example, was tighter at room temp than it was, later, with a slight chill. With the chill, it released the rose and cucumber nuances for which it is well known. None of those came out at room temperature. For this reason, I’m a little reluctant to write up our tasting notes. I’m just not sure how faithful they are to each gin’s character.

When the New York Times held a gin tasting, back in early May, the tasters chose to sample gins in martini form, and this seems to me a wise choice.

Also, I wonder whether seven gins were too many to taste at one time. I think comparing three or four at one time might help fight palate fatigue.

I am eager to start doing regular taste tests for various spirits. I feel like I learn more about the characteristics of spirits in comparison than I do when sipping an Aviation or an Old Fashioned. So we’ll revisit this soon and taste-test various martinis.