• Mixology Monday XCVIII Cocktail: Wunderlich Park

    ginYes it’s Tuesday, but we drank this on Monday and we are hosting Mixology Monday this month so we get a little slack. Besides, a good drink is worth waiting for….who needs to be on time? Anyway, here is a quick reminder of the theme:mxmologo

    One of the best recent developments in the world of cocktails and spirits is the reemergence of regional, craft distillers. And we say “reemergence” because 100+ years ago, before the twin scourges of Prohibition and virtual monopolization “industrialization,” distilling was often a truly local endeavor. Not so long ago, if you wanted some booze, it was often made in your neighborhood and for the tastes of the locals. Sadly, for a few generations, that wasn’t the case… But, quite happily, those days are back… There are literally hundreds of local and regional distillers making some seriously tasty spirits… and now is the time for our monthly online cocktail party to send them some love.

    Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer)… A little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.

    Last week we made a cocktail using Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 1. Venus is a welcome newcomer to the Bay Area’s ever-growing band of craft distillers. But we do have a “grandaddy” of craft distillers here on the Bay Area, St. George Spirits of Alameda. St. George distills all kinds of spirits (all worth trying, particularly the coffee liqueur and their truly unique Rhum Agricole), but we are huge fans of their family of gins.

    gin2And we do mean “family” of gins. St. George has three gins: the “Botanivore” a dry, smooth and (unsurprisingly) botanical gin, the “Dry Rye”, a pot still and rye grain creation that has a fuller, spicier flavor, and then there is the “Terrior”, a truly “hometown hooch”.

    gin3Terrior Gin was designed to truly reflect the land of northern California, and in our opinion, St. George absolutely nails it. The key flavors are Douglas fir, bay laurel and sage. But if you have ever smelled a Redwood forest in the morning, that is how the Terrior Gin tastes, clean, clear notes of pine and forest floor and just a bit of citrus to balance the sip. The Terrior is strongly flavored stuff, the pine almost kicks you in the face, but there is nothing like it (just as there is no place like Northern California).

    As for our cocktail, we wanted to make a Martini variant that highlighted the forest flavor of the Terrior while softening the edges. When we tried vermouth with the Terrior we found the herbal flavors could fight with the pine flavor. The bitter edges of quinquinas didn’t work either. So we tried a few dashes of Pineau de Charentes, a French fortified wine that has sweet, slightly honeyed flavors with a touch of acidity. The Pineau took some edge off the Terrior without muting the overall flavor.

    gin4We also wanted to see if we could expand on the forest / pine flavors of the Terrior and we already had an ingredient in mind, Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit bitters. The hoppy bitters have their own earthy notes with a nice kick of grapefruit. The added citrus (along with a big lemon twist) truly balanced the pine and earth flavors of the Terrior and the sweet notes of the Pineau.

    gin5We named the cocktail the Wunderlich Park, after our local park that has a large Redwood forest. If you want to know what a walk through our local park is like, just try a cocktail with the Terrior Gin.

    gin1Thanks again to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping our monthly cocktail party on track…

    Wunderlich Park:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. St. George Terrior Gin
    • 1/2 oz. white Pineau de Charentes
    • 2 dashes Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
    • Lemon twist, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Place all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled coupé. Twist the lemon peel over the glass and add to the drink. Serve.
  • Mixology Monday XCVIII Cocktail: Abeilles et Lavande

    lav5Since we are hosting Mixology Monday (and don’t worry, the due date is 6/15) we thought we should post a few cocktails for our “Hometown Hooch” theme over the next few days- this is our first. Here is the breakdown:

    One of the best recent developments in the world of cocktails and spirits is the reemergence of regional, craft distillers. And we say “reemergence” because 100+ years ago, before the twin scourges of Prohibition and virtual monopolization “industrialization,” distilling was often a truly local endeavor. Not so long ago, if you wanted some booze, it was often made in your neighborhood and for the tastes of the locals. Sadly, for a few generations, that wasn’t the case… But, quite happily, those days are back… There are literally hundreds of local and regional distillers making some seriously tasty spirits… and now is the time for our monthly online cocktail party to send them some love.

    Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer)… A little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.

    We have to admit, we chose this theme because we have a few local distillers in mind; one well-established and nationally recognized, another a new kid on the block. We will start with the new kid on the block, Venus Spirits of Santa Cruz. The brainchild of Sean Venus, Venus Spirits makes a range of booze including whiskeys, aquavit, an excellent tequila (or “agave spirit”, since it is made in the states) and some very tasty gin. Not surprisingly, we really like the gin (the tequila didn’t last long either).

    lavlav1lav2Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 01 has a cool feature where they show the list of botanicals they use in their gin. In this particular blend, the flavor that truly stands out from the standard juniper and citrus is a delightful touch of lavender. You know the lavender is there but it never dominates or drowns out other flavors. And, most importantly, it doesn’t have any “soapy” flavors you often get with flowers like lavender or violets. With such a unique flavor profile, this is gin worth seeking out.

    lav4As for the cocktail, we decided to use local lavender for inspiration. We have the gin with lavender notes. And as it turns out, Putney Farm honey is mostly lavender and the lavender patch is right by our Meyer lemon tree. From there, we looked at our favorite gin and lemon cocktails and went for a riff on the classic French 75. We sub our lavender honey for sugar syrup, use a local sparking wine instead of champagne and garnish with a lavender flower from the garden. It tastes like a French 75 but with sweet floral aromas and light lavender flavor. A good sip from beginning to end- think lavender lemonade, just better…..way better.

    lav6We call the drink the “Abeilles et Lavande” (translation: Bees and Lavender). This is a serious “hometown hooch” cocktail.  In fact, everything in this drink comes from well within 50 miles….heck, the lemons, honey and lavender come from within 50 yards.

    lav7Abeilles et Lavande:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 oz. Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 1*
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 oz. lavender honey syrup (1-1 honey and hot water)
    • 2-3 oz. sparkling wine or champagne
    • Lavender flowers, for garnish

    * Note, if you can’t get Venus gin but want the lavender flavor, we suggest you lightly infuse a lemon/honey mixture with just a touch of lavender, a little goes a long way.

    Assemble:

    1. Put the gin, lemon and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled flute or coupé. Add the sparkling wine.
    2. Slap the lavender flower in your hand and add to the top of the cocktail as garnish. Serve.