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.
MY FAIR LADY
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 curaçao (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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