Monday, March 9, 2020

One for the Road... Träkál - The Spirit of Patagonia

In "One for the Road", one of the guys takes a quick run at a topic for your reading pleasure. Themes will vary, from classic drinks to hand-crafted ingredients and creations of their own, or whatever suits them at the moment. This time, Pablo delves into a new spirit: Träkál.

It seems like it was just last week when our RSA contingent, John, shared the news of a new spirit, Träkál, he'd read about in Food & Wine: The New Spirit That Allegedly Smells Like a Patagonian Forest. In fact, it was last week.

Being from Argentina and having spent every other summer vacation there during their winter I was immediately intrigued by the title and that description and started tracking down a bottle with the help of family in various states. 

It wasn't being carried in Virginia--no surprise there--but in several states and then conveniently and most recently in DC where I did pick up a bottle.

Träkál is a new spirit from Chile that required a new FDA classification ("spirit distilled from apples and pears") and not just a new flavor profile of an amaro, gin, or other liqueur. It's definitely not a gin. And not brandy, either. In addition to apples and pears they use seven native herbs and four native berries sourced within 100 km of their water source. The name itself is taken from the Huilliche language and and means "the first warrior into battle" boasting it's new spirit status. 

After first cracking open the bottle I spent several minutes just smelling it and it does have that green, fruit, herbal, and mineral smell to it. Sipping on it gets you different notes--my first sip made me think of a smoother grappa, with the pear notes coming in first followed by herbal and anise notes. There's a slight sweetness to it and even at 84 proof it drinks very smoothly with no bite. 

While I immediately began to think of which amari would pair best with it, my initial drinks came first from the Träkál website, perhaps fittingly the Patagonian Alchemist. The second was a Träkál Sour from Food and Wine with some minor changes.

Patagonian Alchemist
  • 1.5 oz Träkál
  • 1.5 oz Dolin Blanc
  • .25 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 2 dashes A&T Grapefruit Bitters
  • Stir to chill and garnish with a lemon twist

This is their take on a martini and it's delicious. The more floral Dolin Blanc complements the Träkál nicely while the Green Chartreuse brings out the herbal notes. In future versions I think I'd shift the balance more to the Träkál but maybe not going as far as a 4:1 I usually do for my martinis. 

Träkál Sour
  • 2 oz Träkál
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • .75 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup
  • .5 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 1 dash A&T Black Walnut Bitters
  • Garnished with rosemary from the simple syrup

The F&W recipe used just regular simple syrup but I think the rosemary enhanced the "green" notes. Thyme or sage simple syrup would also be nice to test out. And again with the Green Chartreuse--it just seems like a natural bedfellow to the Träkál. The Black Walnut Bitters are very nutty and help enhance those natural flavors. 

Overall I'm super excited about this product. I can already envision using it not only in place of gin (Negroni, anyone?) but other spirits, too, and especially coming up with something new all together. 

If anyone else has gotten their hands on a bottle, definitely pass along any recipe ideas. 


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