Friday, September 17, 2010

Dranks, Dranks, Dranks! Liver Punisher Drink of the Month Club: September Drink of the Month!!!

A few weeks into September is a little late for a “Drink of the Month” entry, I know, but this one is so good, you’ll be glad you waited!

So, it’s no secret that the happy marriage of gin and tonic is one of the great pairings in booze history. They’re Lucy and Ricky, intrinsically linked forever and all time with a wedge of lime standing in for little Ricky. And like Lucy and Ricky it’s somewhat of a surprise that they work so well together. She was a quirky redhead who was always in some sort of well meaning trouble, he was a no-nonsense latin band leader. Gin is a piney, often astringent spirit that has garnered just as many fans as detractors, and tonic water is a thin, bitter soft drink that is generally unpalatable on its own. Together, however each pair unites to form something greater than either individual. A gin a tonic is a cool, refreshing burst of bitter, spicy, sour, and just a hint of sweet. Lucy and Ricky are an indelible comedy team with impeccable timing and natural chemistry. It seems that there would be no room for improvement.

But all that changed about a week ago while I was sitting at the Fairmount in Cleveland Heights sipping a rich, frothy Jameson Sour. Waiting for drinking companionship to arrive I had little else to do between drinks other than glimpse the day’s sports highlights and eavesdrop on the other people at the bar. The closest, and therefore easiest to overhear, were three folks from Ireland. They discussed the merits of American mico-brews and the strange phenomenon of pumpkin beers with the bartender for a bit before resuming a more private convo. The young lady sitting nearest to me had ordered a gin a tonic on their arrival and had taken a few sips before she hailed the bartender. She asked very politely if it might be possible to have the bartender add something called St. Germain to her cocktail. She obliged, and while she was doctoring the drink I asked my neighbor what exactly she was having done. She explained that it was a liquor made from Elderflower blossoms and asked the bartender if we might smell the bottle top. There was little doubt that this had come from flowers, bright and floral, like smelling a bouquet of fresh cut flowers.

I’ll admit that I had some reservations about this addition to a gin and tonic, something so beautifully simple that it needs little more than a squeeze of citrus. She assured me that it was a perfect compliment, and was so convincing in her salesmanship that I ordered one myself on the next round.

It was good, to say the least. It was like tasting a gin and tonic again for the first time. The floral nose of the St. Germain is a nice foil to the battered-by-pine-boughs scent of gin, in fact the two mix in such a way as to give the drink the scent of a particularly good IPA. And the taste of the elderflower liquor is pleasant and sweet, adding another layer of flavor to the drink. This new concoction now touches on the bitter, sweet, and sour sectors of the tongue, filling the mouth with a taste that would somewhere in the neighborhood of a field of wild flowers that neighbors a dense pine forest just moments after a hearty spring rain.

While I generally feel most like drinking g’n’ts in the summer, this slight adjustment gives it warmth and body, extending the drink’s season into this late summer/early fall time.

Play the Home Edition, or: What to Ask Your Bartender For:

On the Rocks:
Fill a rocks or old fashioned glass with ice. Pour in about 2oz of gin, more or less to taste. Fill nearly to the rim with tonic water. Top with up to a teaspoon of St. Germain elderflower liquor and garnish with a lime.

Up: Fill a shaker with ice and add 2oz of gin, a teaspoon of St. Germain, and a squeeze of lime. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass, top with tonic water to taste.


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