When most people think of Tales of the Cocktail, they usually think of the seminars, but that is merely one of the many reasons that one goes there for. Another reason, (and a more exciting one perhaps) to partake in the week-long party that is Tales is to experience the unknown: in this case, spirits. Every year, spirit companies and importers choose Tales to launch new and exciting products, or perhaps give one an opportunity to taste spirits that aren’t available in many States. Today we will discuss two such spirits: one that probably won’t be shown at Tales, and one that definitely will.
Victoria gin, the pièce de résistance of Winchester Cellars, bills itself as the first (and only) premium gin of Canada. You’d think that with Canada’s long standing ties to Britain that they’d be awash with the stuff, but alas, due to prohibitive government, this is not the case. Encased in a gorgeous, thick-glassed, hydrant-plug bottle, Victoria gin is small batch, pot-distilled and reminiscent of better Pacific Northwest gins. Nosing of this impeccably clear spirit gives one juniper quickly followed by citrus. I found that the longer that this gin was allowed to breathe, the more the citrus overcame the juniper, until finally it nosed almost like a lemon vodka (this was over the course of hours). The palate entry is nicely textured, silky and sweet and one would not guess that this gin is 45% ABV. First tastings gave me an earthy woodsy note that made me believe that American juniper was used, but as the opened bottle took in some air, the earthiness dissipated to leave a much better balanced product than when first opened. The gin finishes with good acid and bitter lemon. Overall this is a gin that I would recommend to those that can get their hands on it.
The second spirit that we’re going to discuss today, is a creation by wunderkind spirit producer Robert Cooper (ok maybe he’s not a child, but he’s younger than me and doing a whole lot more with his life!), of St. Germain fame. Rob has gone back in time to recreate the wonderful, but until now defunct spirit known as Crème Yvette. A hybrid of violette and dark fruit (think cassis and Chambord) crème Yvette was famously known as the “blue” in the Blue Moon and the “sky” in the original Aviation. For the lucky ones out there that are going to Tales of the Cocktail this year, have it be known that it will be there for all to taste and cocktails such as the Aviation, Blue Moon and The Stratosphere will be mixed by yours truly.
UPDATE: due to my inability to read, I had mistakenly thought that Yvette was in the first recipe for the Aviation. It was not, as pointed out to me by Erik Ellestad. A quick check in Hugo Enslin’s 1917 Mixed Drinks confirmed that violette was used, but the Yvette makes a fine sub.
Since we’ve discussed a base spirit and a liqueur, I feel that it is only fitting that we mix a cocktail containing both, don’t you? Today I went to the Stork Club Bar Book, a tome that I’ve always enjoyed, but haven’t pulled from my shelves in well over a year. The beautiful thing about the Stork Club Bar Book, is that not only is it a snap shot in time, but that it also has a section in the book devoted entirely to morning cocktails. Ah, to live in an era where beginning your day with a cocktail was not only socially acceptable, it was damn well civilized! So let’s begin our day with the:
1 ½ oz gin
¾ oz crème Yvette
juice of half a lemon (I used ¾ oz)
1 tsp sugar (I omitted)
white of an egg
shake and serve in a 4 oz wine glass
(as with any egg drink shake hard. see here for more on eggs)
This is a very tasty drink that just wouldn’t have the same effect if one used violette. The teaspoon of sugar is more for texture than sweetness, but may be omitted if one has a drier palate. I’d tell you more about how delicious this is, but instead I think I’ll just keep it to myself and make you go out and buy a bottle of Yvette to find out for yourself. Until then!