Check, check... is this thing on? What do you know, it is.
So, you may have noticed we've been MIA on the blog for a while. But that doesn't mean we haven't been documenting our
|Enjoying the view... or contemplating |
ratios for a new A&T Original?
|First photographic evidence|
of the Once Upon a Cape.
|Proudly South African...with |
a touch of Swiss, because why not!
|John's bar. Shelves courtesty|
of friend of the blog, Pablo.
This is supposed to be a cocktail blog, not a travelogue, right? How about some thoughts on the actual drink.
There is a lot going on here, and it starts with the gin. New Harbour has a more traditional, London Dry taste than some of its brethren in the growing South African gin market. The juniper and pine notes really shine through, along with a touch of citrus. It manages to hold its own, which is saying something given the potent flavors each of the ingredients bring to the table... err, glass.
The Caperitif, a recently revived South African quinquina, and Souze add to the complexity of the drink, contributing bitter, herbal, and earthy tones. The lemon juice and honey ground the drink, bringing needed citrus and sweetening components while adding a bit of texture, as well. I tried substituting simple syrup from fine granulated sugar for the honey syrup, and it just didn't work.
All this talk about liquid goodness has me parched. I'm off to make a drink. David?
We've come up with a couple of drinks thus far, but this is the one that I think shows the most promise. It's worth going slightly heavy on the gin in order to make sure it shines through the rest of the ingredients, which are all strong enough that they can overpower it otherwise. Slightly, though--otherwise the gin itself will do the overpowering. The quarter-ounce seems to hit that balance. I wasn't able to refill my South African gin stocks on the way home--due entirely to the fact that every spare bit of space in my baggage had a wine bottle in it. This isn't as heartbreaking as it might otherwise be because it's some seriously good wine... but I digress. That'll have to go into a different blog. In the meantime, you'll have to take John and me at our word, that South Africa has a seriously good distilling scene, and they're making some amazing gin down there.
If you can't find that--and if you're not in South Africa, I'm (very) sad to say you probably can't--you can take heart from the knowledge that there's a ton of good gin being made all over the place these days. Far from limited to the bog-standard London Dry, there are plenty of options, and I like more of a new-world style for this drink. Three distillers in Washington DC alone are making great stuff.
I didn't have any of that either--obviously I need to go shopping again--but I did have some very nice Cold River gin from Maine. Not a standout favorite, but it's a very solid performer with strong juniper in the foreground, and a nice grassy softness right behind that. It did the job well.
For the honey syrup I used a very dark, strong buckwheat honey from Pennsylvania. That's much stronger than what we used in South Africa, but I'd definitely go with something local regardless. Interestingly as much tweaking as we did with the recipe, the type of honey you use really will make a difference as well--this one, almost molasses-colored and strongly earthy, gives a different flavor and a different color to the drink. It's worth playing around with, as "honey-flavored" is actually a very wide spectrum. Play with the concentration as well--I used about equal parts honey to water given how powerful this particular stuff is, but with lighter-flavored honeys you might want to bump the concentration up a bit.
I used my own bitters for this... but the Bittermens Tiki is a really good pick.
All in all... refreshing and sharp, but with a complexity that balances it out really nicely. Gin and lemon can easily become overpowering, combining into something better suited to poolside rather than speakeasy, which is how I usually understand "refreshing" when I see it in print; but the strength and complexity of the rest of the ingredients keeps that at bay.
2.25 ounces - gin (recommend New Harbour)
0.5 ounces - Suze Fruits Rouges
0.5 ounces - Caperitif
0.5 ounces - Lemon Juice
0.5 ounces - Honey Syrup
1-2 dashes - Bittermens' 'Elemakule Tiki bitters
Combine all of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
|David and Zebra agree: this drink will knock your stripes off!|