In search of the Rouge Gorge

erithacusrubeculaTwo of the most recent spirits to arrive here for sampling are the Floraison and Nouaison gins from G’Vine. These are distilled in France from Ugni Blanc grapes, the same grape commonly in use for distilling Cognac. The spirit is infused with grape flowers and other traditional gin botanicals before undergoing a final distillation. My preference is for the Nouaison, which is flavored with lime. However this post isn’t so much about the gins as it is about an unusual cocktail I came across while experimenting with them.

Credit for pointing me toward this drink goes to my friend Paul Willenberg. While tasting the G’Vine gins with me he remembered a drink he enjoyed in France called a Rouge Gorge, possibly named after the little bird pictured up top. Paul says he had it as an aperitif at Levernois. One of the only mentions of it I can find online is this:

Rouge Gorge: You Know You Want One

The place to drink this in Paris is the wonderful Alsatian restaurant “Aux Deux Canards” – try it with the pan fried fois gras.

Rouge Gorge – The recipe:

8 parts Cotes du Rhone, 5 parts good quality gin – Tanqueray or Hendricks, 3 parts Crème de Mure. Mix well, and serve slightly chilled in a brandy glass.

The combination sounds strange, but the perfume of the gin combines with the violet aromas of the Rhone wine and the fruitiness of the Crème de Mure to create an absolutely bewitching – and lethal – cocktail.

OK, this does sound strange. And it is strange. But it’s not totally off the wall. The original Martinez featured a 2:1 ratio of sweet vermouth and gin, further sweetened with a little maraschino liqueur. Though contemporary palates tend toward a flipped ratio, this isn’t that far removed from drinks served in the Golden Age of cocktails.

Still, the recipe above is a little sweet. Cutting down the blackberry liqueur brings out more of the gin. Here are the proportions I’ve settled into:

2 oz chilled Côtes du Rhône (Domaine “La Garrique” at Paul’s suggestion)
1 oz gin (G’Vine Nouaison)
.5 oz blackberry liqueur (Clear Creek)

I think the best word to describe this drink is “beguiling.” You take a sip, and you’re not quite sure what to make of it, and so you sip again. It’s better than you think it would be, and difficult to wrap your head around the flavors.

It’s a weird drink; I’m still trying to figure it out myself. Should it be enjoyed before dinner as an aperitif? After with cheese and bread? Where did it come from, and can I order one at a French bar with any reasonable expectation of the bartender knowing what I’m talking about? Googling has yet to reveal the answers, but if anyone else has experience with this unusual drink I would love to hear about it.

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