Recent reading, spirits and cocktails edition

gin1Gin: A Global History, Lesley Jacobs Solmonson — One of the challenges confronting a cocktail writer is finding ways to make drinks sound interesting day after day. Anyone can write a recipe, but presenting it memorably with context and story is a rarer talent. Few pull it off as well as the husband and wife team of David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, authors of the 12 Bottle Bar cocktail blog. Lesley has put that talent to work in a new book chronicling the history of gin.

In my job as a brand ambassador I’m immersed in gin and genever (not literally — OK, sometimes literally) but I still learned a great deal from reading this. It’s the best presentation I’ve come across explaining the stylistic evolution of juniper spirits from early, medicinally-inspired Dutch genever to the old toms of England, then to London dry and the botanically diverse gins made by contemporary distillers. The story is enhanced with many illustrations reaching back to gin’s earliest days and concludes with a selection of essential cocktails. Highly recommended for gin enthusiasts.

pdt1The PDT Cocktail Book, Jim Meehan — Leave aside the recipes for the moment: This books raises the bar for quality on its production values alone. Omitting photographs in favor of colorful illustrations by Chris Gall, this is easily the prettiest volume on my cocktail bookshelf.

But, of course, the recipes are stellar too. There are more than 300 of them, some classics but mostly originals from the renowned PDT speakeasy in New York. It’s a fantastic snapshot of how one of the best bars in the world operates at the top of its game; there’s plenty here to keep one busy trying new things.

The only difficulty with this book is that Meehan specifies brands for every recipe. This is useful for knowing exactly how they make the drinks at PDT, but it’s not always easy to tell when a substitution would be welcome or when a specific brand is essential to a cocktail. Readers will have to use their judgment or else do a lot of shopping; some guidance in the notes would have been a welcome addition. Nevertheless, this is an instant classic. If you reference cocktail books, you should own this.

beercocktailsBeer Cocktails, Howard and Ashley Stetzer — A collection of beer cocktail recipes is obviously a book that’s going to interest me. The publisher sent me a copy of this one and I’m grateful for the chance to look through it. The drinks run the gamut of beer styles, the recipes are clearly written with brief but entertaining introductions, and the photography is appealing.

There’s somewhat less variety in the spirits used. Allspice dram and Root liqueur show up surprisingly often in a book of fifty recipes, as do nut-flavored liqueurs. A few of the ingredients — vodka, PBR or similar mass market lagers, 99 Bananas — strike me as missed opportunities, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I’m also left thinking the book may have benefited from more research into beer cocktails from other writers and bartenders; the authors’ Sympathy for the Devil, a mixture of gin and Duvel with an absinthe rinse, is nearly identical to Stephen Beaumont’s Green Devil cocktail. This is likely an honest mistake, but it was jarring to see it.

There are bright spots too, including some of the classic beer drinks that the Stelzers include. I like their Knickertwister, which combines sweet and dry vermouth with allspice dram, orange bitters, and IPA (mixing vermouth and beer is underexplored territory). I’m also eager to try their Sleepy Hollow flip, which calls for rye, apple brandy, maple syrup, a whole egg, and pumpkin ale; it sounds delicious, but I’ll have to wait for pumpkin beers to come back into season to give it a go. I have several other recipes marked to try out in the future.

There’s a lot to try here and I’m glad to see beer cocktails, which are popping up on more and more menus, getting a whole book devoted to their creation. Definitely recommended if you’d like to explore more ways of mixing spirits and beer. Follow the authors’ blog too at Beyond the Shadow of a Stout.

New Amsterdam Sour

New Amsterdam Sour

Last night Metrovino hosted the afterparty for Taste Washington, an event featuring wines from our neighbor to the north. After a full day of wine tasting most people were ready for cocktails and beer, so I wanted to come up with something appropriate for the occasion. A drink from the late 1800s called a New York Sour — a rye whiskey sour topped with a float of red wine — would have been a natural fit. It’s a tasty cocktail that’s becoming popular once again, likely thanks to David Wondrich’s mention of it in his book Imbibe!.

However I didn’t have any rye for the party. I did have genever and that turned out to make an excellent substitute. Naming it was easy too, New Amsterdam Sour alluding to both the earlier name for New York and the Dutch origin of the spirit.

1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
red wine

Shake the genever, lemon juice, and simple syrup with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Insert straw and float approximately half an ounce of red wine on top. Using crushed ice to fill the glass is a nice touch but not strictly necessary. We used a Washington cabernet for the event but any good red would do.

I’m obviously biased but I really like this version of the drink, genever offering some nice botanicals and a more striking visual contrast than rye does. Unfortunately pounding on a Lewis bag to crush ice doesn’t fit the ambiance at Metrovino so I won’t be adding it to the menu, but I urge readers to give it a try.

Stillwater Artisanal Kopstootje launch tour

NOLA Kopstootje

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know that ordering a Kopstootje, Dutch for “little headbutt,” will get you a tulip glass of genever and a glass of beer. Typically the beer would be a simple lager, but here in Portland we took the idea further by collaborating with the local Upright Brewery to create a beer specifically designed to pair with Bols Genever, Upright Kopstootje Biere. This lightly spiced biere de garde has been a hit two years running, but if you haven’t been in Portland to catch one of the fewer than twenty kegs produced each batch then you’ve had no way to try it.

We enjoyed this collaboration between distillery and brewery so much that we decided to bring it to more cities. To do that we’ve partnered with another rock star brewer, Brian Strumke of Stillwater Ales. Brian set out to create his own perfect match to Bols Genever. His Stillwater Artisanal Kopstootje is a saison-style ale made with barley, rye, wheat, and corn, spiced with botanicals to complement the spirit. Brian is a gypsy brewer who travels the world making unique beers, so I can’t wait to taste what he’s come up with.

Beginning later this month, we’re kicking off a seven-city tour to launch the pairing. We’re starting in New Orleans, then working our way up the East Coast, and finally wrapping up in Chicago. All events are open to the public, so please stop by and order a Kopstootje. I’ll personally be at the events in New Orleans, DC, Chicago, and probably Boston. Lucas Bols Master Distiller Piet van Leijenhorst will visit in New York. Brian from Stillwater and Tal Nadari from Lucas Bols will be attending events as well.

Below is our current schedule of events, which I will update with dates and times as they become available. I hope to see you there!

New Orleans
Monday, 2/27 at Cure, 5-7 pm.
Monday, 2/27 at Bellocq, 11 pm – late.
Tuesday, 2/28 at Avenue Pub, 6 pm.

Baltimore
Wednesday, 2/29 at Alewife.
Wednesday, 2/29 at Ten Ten.

Washington, DC
Thursday, 3/1 at Jack Rose. (6-9 pm)

Philadelphia
Monday, 3/5 at Farmer’s Cabinet.

New York
Tuesday, 3/6 at Vandaag.
Wednesday, 3/7 at Alewife.

Boston
Dates and locations pending.

Chicago
Wednesday, 3/14 at Bangers and Lace.
Wednesday, 3/14 at Three Aces.

Genever is genever

5648020448_5d9cd7d910

The title of this post doesn’t promise anything informative: Genever is genever. Yet when I hear people explain what genever is, they usually say something like “Genever is Dutch gin.” Or a kind of gin they drink in Holland. Or a malty style of gin that was popular in the United States before London dry took over. Gin gin gin gin gin. Look, I enjoy gin too — the gin shelf in my apartment is filled to overflowing — but genever is a different thing. Genever is genever. Labels are admittedly somewhat arbitrary, but I’d like to persuade you that there are good reasons to think of genever as its own distinct category of spirits.

I should first disclose that I’m not a disinterested party on this matter. I work for the Dutch distillery Lucas Bols and my job largely consists of encouraging people to drink more genever. It’s a better pitch for me to walk into a bar and say, “You should carry at least one genever” than it is to say, “You should carry an additional gin, and it should be this unusual Dutch one.” However that’s not the only reason I’m urging this change in classification. The spirit is maltier and less botanical than gin and it doesn’t mix in the same way. Calling genever a type of gin creates confusion.

Consider a typical consumer. He walks into a liquor store, sees a bottle of genever in the gin section, and is intrigued enough to buy it. He takes it home and puts it in his favorite gin drink, a Gin and Tonic. This is a classic pairing for a London dry. But genever and tonic? Eh, not so much. The bottle gets tucked away and forgotten.

Or consider a bartender who finds genever added to the gin section of his employer’s menu. He makes a Martini with it. Is that going to make him enthusiastic about genever? Probably not.

Both of these drinks are excellent with gin. They’re not ideally suited to genever. It’s no fault of the consumer or the bartender that the cocktails didn’t turn out as they’d hoped: They were told genever was gin, so they tried mixing it in absolutely standard gin drinks. They were given the wrong expectations about the product. If they knew what genever is actually like and how to use it, that disappointment could have been avoided. The first step in that education is getting them to think of genever as genever rather than as a kind of gin.

Here’s an analogy I sometimes use to explain my work with Lucas Bols. Imagine that your job was to promote tequila before many people in the United States had any idea what tequila was. You might tell them it’s sort of like rum, produced in the southern latitudes and with an affinity for mixing with lime and other citrus. Or you might tell them it’s like whiskey or brandy, aged in barrels and very nice to sip neat. Neither of these descriptions is completely accurate, but they give consumers a starting point for enjoying the spirit.

In fact, that is pretty close to how some Americans first encountered tequila. Bottles arrived in the American market labeled “Mexican Whiskey.” You can see these in the Sauza Family Museum in Tequila or in this photo. It’s an interesting snapshot of how an unknown spirit reached many consumers in the guise of something more familiar. (The labeling regulations didn’t get worked out until the 1970s.)

When we encounter a new spirit, our impulse is to understand it by reference to spirits we already know. This is perfectly sensible. But eventually, if we really want to know a spirit, we need to understand it on its own terms. For tequila, we need to know about agave, not grain. Tequila would have never thrived the way it has in the American market if it was forever viewed through the lens of whiskey, if its essential “agave-ness” were never allowed to shine through.

amsterdam-017

Genever today is in a similar position to those early tequilas. As genever re-entered the American market a few years ago, people needed an existing spirit to compare it to. They needed a section of their menu or their liquor store to put it in. Seizing on the etymology and botanicals it shares with gin, they reasonably grouped the two together. My view is that this classification misses the essence of the spirit, that genever is to “Dutch gin” as tequila is to “Mexican whiskey.” (Above: A photo I took at a liquor store in Amsterdam. There’s a lot of genever and it gets it own shelf!)

So if genever is not gin, what is it? The spirits do have one thing in common: They are both flavored with juniper berries. Early Dutch distillers sold spirits flavored with juniper and other botanicals for their alleged medicinal qualities. The spirits were produced in pot stills, which retain much of the character of the grain, producing a product that was essentially whiskey with botanicals added. It was called genever, from jeneverbes, the Dutch word for juniper. English speakers shortened this to gin.

With the invention of the column still in the nineteenth century, Dutch genever and English gin began to diverge in style. The English went for the new, purer spirit, essentially making botanical flavored vodka. The Dutch stuck with their malty genever. To distinguish between the two, English speakers called the latter “Holland’s gin.” It was a useful distinction until the triple blow of changing tastes, Prohibition, and World War II reduced genever’s prominence in the American market.

Thus gin evolved from genever, but that doesn’t mean that we should declare genever a kind of gin any more than we should think of the blues as just a proto-form of rock and roll. Gin and genever are “about” different things. Gin is primarily about botanicals. If you line up three different gins and want to describe the differences among them, you’re going to talk mostly about their botanical profiles. This one has very assertive juniper, this one is more floral, this one has a licorice note, etc.

Genever is partly about botanicals, but it’s also about the malty base spirit. As agave is to tequila, this maltwine (moutwijn) is to genever. When tasting different genevers, the differences in maltwine and the effects of barrel ageing are at least as important as the botanicals, often even more important.

As I write this I am sipping on a glass of the Bols 10 year old Corenwyn, one of the maltier styles of genever. There is juniper in it, but its presence isn’t obvious in either taste or aroma. The flavor is of grain mellowed by a decade of barrel ageing. It’s very good neat. If I had to compare it to another popular spirit category, I’d undoubtedly choose whiskey over gin. However it’s not quite that either. The botanicals are there, and they do make a difference.

This particular bottling isn’t currently available in the states, but aged genevers are starting to appear. A few months ago Bols introduced Bols Barrel Aged Genever, which is aged for a minimum of one and a half years in oak. It’s more than 50% maltwine, as is the original Bols Genever. As these spirits arrive in the market, the classification of genever as a type of gin is going to become more and more inapt.

Take the 10 year old bottle I mentioned. Let’s say you went to Amsterdam and brought a bottle back for your bar. You could insist, if you like, that any spirit that has so much as kissed a juniper berry counts as gin. But you would have to explain that this is a very strange gin that’s made mostly from a whiskey-like grain distillate, that’s aged for years in oak barrels, that doesn’t really taste like juniper at all, and that’s good in cocktails but also very nice on its own with no chilling or dilution. You could say all that. Or you could say, “genever is genever.”

I think the latter approach is simpler and more sensible. Take a couple examples from the press this week. Today at The Atlantic Clay Risen has a good article about barrel aged gins:

My favorite so far (and the most widely available) is Lucas Bols’s Barrel-Aged Genever. Unlike most gins available in the United States, Bols and other Dutch gins, or genevers, use a maltwine base, a combination of corn, rye, and wheat. They are also less intensely distilled, and usually through pot, rather than column, stills, producing a robust whiskey-like quaff, which connoisseurs prefer to drink chilled and neat. It’s thick, like a liqueur; you wouldn’t think to mix it with tonic for a summer-day quencher.

I’m delighted that he enjoys our product, but that’s a lot of words to explain how unlike gin our gin is! The classification is straining at the seams.

Here’s another from The Oregonian, which on Tuesday published its annual list of “100 Things We Love.” Kopstootje Biere, our collaboration with Portland’s Upright Brewery to create a beer designed specifically to pair with Bols Genever, made the list. That makes me very happy. Yet here’s how they introduced it: “A traditional Dutch ceremony consisting of genever, a type of gin, with a beer back.” If you know about genever, or especially if you tried this pairing last year, you know that this is a tasty combination. But to everyone else, a glass of gin with a beer on the side probably doesn’t sound very appealing. Even if you like gin, you don’t ever drink it like that.

So let’s stop saying that genever is gin. If someone asks what genever is, say “genever is genever.” From there you can explain how the spirit is made, where it comes from, and what it tastes like. Maybe after that talk about its relation to gin. Gin is wonderful and its evolution is a neat story, but it is not the story of genever.

flying-hart-1

If you’ve read this far, the least I can do is offer you a cocktail. At the beginning of this post I mentioned that putting genever in gin cocktails doesn’t always work. Sometimes it does; I’ve had delicious twists on the French 75 and the Corpse Reviver #2, to name a couple. However at other times it makes a better stand-in for whiskey and substituting genever in your favorite whiskey cocktails is a promising way of coming up with new drinks.

This one is the latest addition to our menu at Metrovino, featuring Bols Barrel Aged Genever. It’s a fairly straightforward adaptation of one of my favorite rye cocktails, The Remember the Maine. In keeping with the sunken ship theme, it’s named the Flying Hart (Vliegenthart), after a notable Dutch shipwreck.

2 oz Bols Barrel Aged Genever
1 oz sweet vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz cherry Heering
2 dashes Brooklyn Hemispherical fig bitters
1 dash absinthe

Stir, serve up, and garnish with a cherry. Prost!

Unintended consequences and genever houses

houseofbols

If you fly business class on KLM, you’ll be presented with a welcome gift from the airline: A small ceramic bottle of genever glazed in the style of Delft tiles and modeled after actual buildings in Amsterdam. This is a practice at KLM dating back to 1952, with a new house introduced each year. This I knew from my recent trip to Amsterdam. I have my own bottle, pictured above, of the House of Bols. This is the only one you can acquire without flying KLM or buying from collectors.

What I didn’t know is why this tradition developed. It turns out it’s an unintended consequence of regulation. Airline rules at the time capped the value of gifts to passengers at seventy-five cents, however they placed no restriction on the provision of drinks. KLM’s ingenious work-around was to hand out a single-serving of genever in a bottle that was worth far more than the spirit inside. Despite the cost-cutting that has deglamorized air travel in recent years, these ceramic bottles have become too beloved to eliminate.

See The Wall Street Journal for the full story, and thanks to my friend Edgar Hutte for the tip.

Transatlantic Mai Tai

maitai

First Mad Dog cocktails, now umbrella drinks? It’s a good thing Metrovino’s kitchen is here to keep things classy. (Let’s not even talk about the bone luge… yet). This drink came about from wondering what would happen if you made a grain-based version of a Mai Tai, which traditionally combines two kinds of rum with lime, orgeat, orange curacao, and sugar. In place of rum this uses equal parts rye whiskey and Bols Genever, a very malty spirit distilled from rye, wheat, and corn and flavored with botanicals.

1 oz rye
1 oz Bols Genever
1 oz lime juice
3/4 oz orgeat
1/2 oz orange liqueur

Shake and strain over ice, garnishing with a cherry, mint, and a cocktail parasol. Yes, you must include the parasol. You wouldn’t want the cherry to get a sunburn.

At the bar we’re serving this with Jim Beam for the rye, B. G. Reynold’s for the orgeat, and Combier for the orange liqueur. An alternate name for this drink would be the Product Placement cocktail. (Hi Blair and Tommy!)

Walking Spanish

walking_spanish

Here’s the other cocktail on the Metrovino menu based on the Alto Cucina, with the wine element toned down a bit to compensate for the strong flavors of amontillado sherry:

1 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz amontillado sherry
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz St. Germain

Stir, strain, and serve up with an orange twist.

A friend of mine likes to contrast my drinks with those of another bartender in town, Kelley Swenson at June. Mine often tend to be big, in your face, cocktail geek-type drinks. Kelley’s are subtle and wonderfully complex. He has an amazing touch for harmoniously layering flavors. I can’t always pull that off, but the ingredients come together really well on this one, and I like to think of it as Kelley Swenson-style drink.

The name comes from the Tom Waits song, which few customers recognize but I love it when they do. “Walking Spanish” is used as slang for the prisoner’s stoic final walk on Death Row, or more generally for going somewhere unpleasant against one’s will. Or as Waits explains it:

Walking Spanish is an expression they use when you don’t want to go somewhere. It’s 5:30 in the morning and the baby just woke you up screaming and you drag yourself out of bed, you’re walking Spanish. Somebody says, “Listen, buddy, give me all your money.” and your hand goes back around toward your wallet, you’re walking Spanish, you don’t want to go. Walking the plank, basically, walking Spanish is walking the plank.

As a personal joke then it might have been better to use this name on some kind of Lemon Drop variant, since I’d be walking Spanish every time someone orders it, but the tie-in to sherry came to me first.

A Christmas cocktail: Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

amsterdan-hot-chocolate

It’s a bit late to go shopping for ingredients today, but this drink will serve you well all winter long. It was inspired by a comment on my first post about working for Lucas Bols. Alison from Gastrologia wrote, “one of the best drinks I ever had, A’dam or elsewhere, was a cup of rich hot chocolate with genever and orange liqueur from a street vendor on a cold night.” Genever and hot chocolate? Sounds weird, but the maltiness of the genever works here. All I did was add a splash of Chartreuse, because chocolate and Chartreuse is an awesome pairing. We served this with the final course of our holiday brunch cocktail event at Irving Street Kitchen:

3/4 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz Chartreuse
5-6 oz rich hot chocolate

Build in a mug and top with whipped cream if you’re feeling decadent.

[Photo provided by Allison Jones from the Portland food blog Lemon Basil.]

A duo of beer cocktails

dutchdevil

With our “Brewing Up Cocktails” event successfully wrapped up at The Hop and Vine with co-conspirators Ezra Johnson-Greenough and Yetta Vorobik, I thought it’d be fun to go into the details on a couple of the drinks. These both use products from the Bols line and adapt popular cocktails for use with beer in place of the usual ingredients.

First up is the Dutch Devil, pictured up top in the flute. There were two inspirations for this drink. The first is the classic champagne cocktail, made with champagne, a sugar cube, and Angostura bitters. The second is Stephen Beaumont’s Green Devil, which deliciously mixes gin and Duvel Golden Ale with an absinthe rinse. This drink sort of combines the two, putting Duvel in place of sparkling wine and taking advantage of the malty notes in genever:

1 oz Bols Genever
1 Angostura-soaked sugar cube
Duvel

Build in a flute. We were serving these with the sugar cube added first, but the cocktail science article I linked to this morning suggests that adding it last might be a better way. At The Hop and Vine, this drink is now on the menu with a candied ginger garnish.

The second drink is a variation of the Bramble, a lovely cocktail created by London bartender Dick Bradsell. It’s made by mixing gin, lemon, and simple syrup in crushed ice, then topping it with blackberry liqueur and fresh berries. Our idea for this one was to take out the lemon and simple syrup and replace them with a sour ale. But which beer to use? Ezra likes it with the Cantillon Gueuze. My preference is the Bruery’s Hottenroth Berliner Weisse. Berliner Weisse is a tart style of wheat beer native to Germany, where it’s often served with raspberry or woodruff syrup. I like the way it balances this drink and the way the final addition of blackberry liqueur mirrors the way it’s traditionally served:

3/4 oz Damrak Gin
Bruery Hottenroth
3/4 oz Clear Creek blackberry liqueur

Build the first two ingredients in an ice-filled rocks glass, top with the liqueur, garnish with fresh blueberries, and enjoy.

For notes on the rest of the drinks featured at the event, check out Hoke Harden’s write-up for the Examiner.

Bols at the NW Spirits and Mixology Show

boulevardier

If you’re in Portland today, consider stopping by the inaugural Northwest Spirits and Mixology Show at the Jupiter Hotel. Admission is free with proof of hospitality industry affiliation, otherwise $10 with registration here. The show is industry only from 12-4 and open to everyone from 4-7.

The Oregon Bartenders Guild is contributing to the show with a few mixology demos. I’m working the “classic to contemporary” slot, tweaking a classic cocktail. I’ll be making and serving a Bols Boulevardier:

1.5 oz Bols Genever
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth

Stir, serve up with a cherry or orange twist. This drink is traditionally made with bourbon, so I’ll be using Bols to tie it into the trend toward white whiskeys (Bols is made from about 50% malt wine, an unaged grain distillate). This has been one of my favorite genever cocktails to order when I’m out at bars that are still developing their own drinks; the ingredients are widely available, it’s easy to make, and it’s really tasty. My demo is slated at 5:25 and I’ll be sampling the cocktail from the OBG booth for sometime before.

What the heck is a kopstootje?

kopstootje

Literally it means “little headbutt” in Dutch, but if you order it in a Netherlands bar you’ll get something much nicer: a shot of genever and a glass of beer. It’s a traditional way to drink genever. To spread the tradition to Portland I’m organizing a few events around town and introducing people to the combination. Of course the genever will be from Bols. The beer would normally be a lager, and a good pils is indeed a great choice here, but this is Beervana we’re talking about. We’re not going to keep people away from top-fermenting yeasts and buckets of hops if that’s what they prefer.

We have three events scheduled so far and more in the works, bringing us into each of Portland’s five quadrants. To join us for a kopstootje, meet us at any of these venues starting around 6 pm:

June 10: Hop and Vine, 1914 N Killingsworth Street
June 16: Spints Alehouse, 401 NE 28th Avenue
June 17: North 45, 517 NW 21st Avenue

Come back to this post for additional events coming soon.

[Photo from the Bols Genever Oregon launch event at Carlyle taken by David Lanthan Reamer.]

Climbing Jacob’s Ladder

jacobsladder2

I don’t plan on writing about every Bols cocktail around town but when a drink is named Jacob’s Ladder of course I’m going to post it. My friend Andrew at Branch Whiskey Bar came up with this one combining three of my favorite things: genever, Fernet-Branca, and single malt Scotch:

2 oz Bols genever
.25 oz Fernet-Branca
.25 oz simple syrup
A few drops of Talisker
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Stir with ice, strain, and serve up with an orange twist.

It’s an imposing list of ingredients but they come together nicely and the cocktail is very smooth. If you’re in Portland stop into Branch and give it a try.

Genever comes to Portland

razorblade

If you follow my Twitter feed you saw that I posted cryptically last week about having a job interview on April Fool’s Day. It was a real interview and I’m pleased to announce that I’m now working with Lucas Bols as the Portland brand ambassador for Bols Genever, Damrak Gin, Galliano, and the Bols line of liqueurs. I’ve been a fan of their products ever since helping out with the Oregon launch event for their genever at Carlyle a few months ago, so I’m excited to be on board introducing people to this classic spirit that’s been unavailable in the US for a long time.

There’s no better way to kick things off than with a cocktail, so here’s one from Charles Baker that my friend Evan Zimmerman has on the menu at Laurelhurst Market, the Holland Razor Blade:

2 oz Bols Genever
.75 oz simple syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper

Shake the first three ingredients with ice, strain into a coupe, and finish with the pinch of pepper. This is a really cool drink and I love the way the spice, sweetness, and citrus balance one another. Stop in soon to try it out.

Even more Fernet recipes

A few days ago Boston bartenders held an event that I’d have loved to be present at: A celebration of Fernet-Branca cocktails. They served some delicious-sounding recipes, including the Work in Progress from Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli at Craigie on Main:

3/4 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz Bols Genever
1 oz St. Germain
3 dashes orange bitters

Stir over ice, serve down, flamed orange peel.

Ron brought the recipe in to Carlyle last night, where he had one for himself and I hooked another customer on two more. It’s a curious combination of flavors, reminiscent of the Cooper’s Cocktail at Vessel. The rest sound intriguing too and I’ll be sampling them soon.

Previously: Carlyle held its own Fernet night, complete with Fernet sorbet and ice cream.