Summertime is the best gintime

It was a hot summer-like evening and I was enjoying a Hendrick's Gin martini at the Blu Stone Bistro, a sleek lounge and good restaurant near the Albany (NY) International Airport.

The icy moisture on the glass and the cucumber wheel garnish matched the coolness of the blue, silver and green color palette of the establishment. Appealing to the eye as well as the palate.

Hendrick's is a small-batch Scottish gin that stands on its own in a crowded market niche thanks to its pronounced notes of rose petals and cucumber -- especially the cucumber. It was created in 1999 by a very old distillery, William Grant & Sons which was founded in 1886.

The official Hendrick's Martini recipe is simple: 2½ parts gin and ½ part dry vermouth (I recommend only Noilly Pratt) stirred together with ice in a mixing glass), then strained into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with a cucumber wheel. Simple, delicious.

However, each time I drink Hendrick's, I'm reminded of a summer garden. And when that happens, my taste buds begin wandering beyond that unique gin to encompass flavorful recipes from distillers as large as Bombay inn the UK, as middling as Citadelle in France or as small as Finger Lakes Distilling in upstate New York which has a nice concoction called Seneca Drums. Each brand can be appreciated for its own special qualities.

Here a few gin-centric cocktail recipes for you to play with. Bear in mind your choice of gin will alter the outcome of each.


This cocktail was created at London's Savoy Hotel in the 1950s to coincide with the production of "My Fair Lady," the musical stage play based on George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion."

1½ measures gin
2 teaspoons orange juice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon creme de fraise
1 egg white

Thoroughly shake all ingredients together with ice,, strain into cocktal glass and garnish with an orange peel.


Audrey Sanders, who owns The Pegu Club in New York City's SoHo neighborhood, is known for selecting imaginative, fresh ingredients for her lengthy line of drinks. Sanders is big on gins, with about 30 brands on hand. Here's one of her recipes:

2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. orange curaƧao (or Cointreau if you omit bitters)
1 or 2 dashes orange or Angostura bitters

Put all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with lime wedge.


I came across this creation in a report in the San Francisco Chronicle on Daniel Wyatt, the young bar manager at the city's iconic Alembic bar on Haight Street. Many of his drinks are culinary-inspired, and he's heavily into offbeat creations that have helped build both a reputation and a dedicated following.

1 1/2 ounces Junipero gin
Juice of half lime
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce fresh celery juice
7 or 8 mint leaves

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with single mint leaf.

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Anonymous said...

Cannot agree on Hendrick's. It is an interesting spirit, but it isn't good gin. There isn't a single classic gin cocktail recipe that I believe is improved with Hendrick's. To me, Hendrick's was invented for, and is purchased by, non-traditional gin drinkers, people who claim, "Oh, I don't like gin, but I do like Hendrick's." This is the same rationale behind Beefeater's low-proof "Summer Edition" gin, as well. At least they have the virtue of being more interesting spirits than plain, boring vodka.
Can't agree about Noilly-Prat, either. The so-called "new" formula makes for a lousy Martini. Dolin trumps Noilly-Prat on all counts, you really ought to try it.
Just a little healthy, respectful dissent. Hope you can appreciate such a point of view.

Pierre Ver Mouth said...

Dear Anonymous:

Interesting opinion. however, the Noilly Pratt formula isn't new. It's the original European recipe; we had been getting a different version in the States until sometime last year. (I remember Dowd writing about it.) And, the original remains THE best.