It seems like every other day there is a new Gin on the Market.
Everyone hypes their new wonderful ideas for flavoring their Gins. Grape flowers. Unusual spices and herbs.
All of these products are designed to make Gin more appealing to the “modern drinker,” whoever it is the particular liquor companies think that is. Perhaps it is a vodka fancier, thus the company give their gin as clean a finish as possible and as neutral a flavor as they can manage and still call it “Gin”. Perhaps it is an upscale female drinker, thus the company adds floral components. Or maybe it is the luxury drinker, thus the company adds incredibly expensive ingredients and charges over $50 US per bottle for what amounts to a flavored vodka.
My first problem with most of these products, is I’m a bit of a classicist.
You can’t use any of these new Gins in classic cocktails and be certain that the results will be appealing or even good. Basically these new Gins all need particular cocktails that are tuned for their strengths or weaknesses.
My other problem with all these companies releasing new style Gins is there are two styles of Gin that are nearly completely un-represented in the American spirits market: Genever and Old-Tom.
If you’re going to take a chance on launching a product in the US, why not make one in either of these two non-existent styles? You’d think a built in market among upscale cocktail bars and cocktail enthusiasts would be enough to convince some marketing or product executive somewhere.
Fortunately, our own Anchor Distilling is not one to go in for trendy styles. They’ve been producing two 100% Rye whiskies they claim are authentic to the 18th and 19th Century for several years now. They launched an outstandingly juniper-ey (take that vodka fanciers!) Gin called Junipero several years ago. In 2006, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1906 quake, they released a version of their Rye Whiskey aged for more than 10 years in once used charred oak barrels.
This year, as if sensing the release of David Wondrich’s book chronicling the life and times of Jerry Thomas, “Imbibe!” they released a Genever-style Gin called Genevieve.
Now, as you may or may not know, almost none of the Gin producers in the US distill the alcohol they make their Gin from. They simply buy bulk ethanol from Midwestern industrial suppliers like Archer Daniels Midlands and re-distill with spices. I won’t be judgmental about this; but, it is apparent from the final products that some Gin producers spend more time making decisions on the quality of the ethanol than others do.
For their Junipero Gin, Anchor distilling buys “special” ethanol, (or Grain Neutral Spirits,) soaks the spices and herbs in it, and then re-distills.
However, Genever-style Gin is made from a less highly distilled spirit, basically a young whiskey.
For their newly released Genevieve, they actually brewed something similar to a “beer” and then distilled it with the spices to make the Gin.
Instead of the usual clean flavor profile and thin body of Grain Neutral Spirits based Gins, this gives the Genevieve a flavor profile and body more like a juniper and spice flavored young whiskey. Not only that, but, it is beautifully distilled with the great length of scent in the glass you can only get from spirits produced in pot stills.
What to do with this delightful potation?
Well, frankly, so far, I have found no better application than the “Improved Gin Cocktail” from the 1887 version of Jerry Thomas’ “Bartender’s Guide”.
Improved Gin Cocktail
Take 2 dashes Boker’s (or Angostura) Bitters.
3 dashes gum syrup. (Scant teaspoon 2-1 Simple Syrup)
2 dashes Maraschino. (Scant teaspoon Maraschino Liqueur)
1 dash Absinthe. (Kubler Absinthe is now available in CA! Stop Messing about with Absinthe Susbtitutes!)
1 small piece of the yellow rind of a lemon, twisted to express the oil.
1 small wine-glass of Hollands Gin. (2 oz Anchor Genevieve)
Fill (mixing) glass one-third full of shaved (cracked is fine) ice, shake (stir please) well, and strain into a fancy cocktail glass, put the lemon peel in the glass and serve. The flavor is improved by moistening the edge of the cocktail glass with a piece of lemon.
Since first reading about this cocktail in the New York Times a couple years ago, I’ve made it with nearly every Gin in my liquor cabinet. Making it with the Genevieve blows every other version, (and nearly every other cocktail!) I’ve tried out of the water. Instead of a Gin Cocktail, it is more like a holiday spice flavored Sazerac.
I know you probably won’t believe me; but, this is one of the most amazing cocktails I have tried in my life. If you stop by my house in Bernal Heights, I will be glad to make you one and change your mind.
Or, ask them to make you one at Alembic here in San Francisco, as I know they have the Genevieve and everything else called for in the recipe.
Hey Fritz, how about an Old-Tom?