Thursday, August 20, 2009

improved holland gin cocktail

3 oz Bols Genever Gin
2 barspoon Maraschino Liqueur
1 1/2 barspoon Rich Simple Syrup (2:1)
1/2 barspoon Absinthe
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist lemon rind over the glass, rim edge, and drop in.
Yesterday, Andrea and I went to the Bols Genever Gin release party held at Drink here in Boston. Besides presentations by the Bols master distiller with the original 1820 recipe book in hand and by other Bols folk who spoke specifically about their product, we were privileged to hear from David Wondrich (author of Imbibe!) about how Genever played a major role in classic cocktails.

Gin was originally created in Holland as Genever, a malty liquor infused with juniper berries. During this time, the Dutch harbors received a wide variety of botanicals and grains which filtered their way into their liquors and liqueurs. The Dutch gin used barley and rye from the Baltics and they malted the grains to produce a product akin to a juniper whiskey. The English ripped off the concept of gin but made a product that was less grain flavored by using unmalted barley and miscellaneous grains. The spirit was highly rectified through distillations and filtrations to be less like a flavored whiskey and more like a flavored vodka. In the United States during the early and mid nineteenth century, English gin was not that prevalent relative to Holland gin. Much of the spirit was coming through New York which was heavily settled by the Dutch. As a result, many of the recipes from that era such as Jerry Thomas' required the proper gin of the day, namely Genever, to achieve the proper end result although some could work with the English-styled spirit as well. According to import records, the Dutch vs. English gin balance began to equilibrate around 1894 and flipped at the end of the century with 1899 seeing more bottles of British gin in bars and liquor shops than the Dutch variety.

Tasting the Bols Genever straight, it was indeed malty and very unlike English gin such as Bombay or Plymouth. The liquor is a combination of malt wine, grain neutral spirits, and a botanical infusion. Besides juniper berries, the Bols product is flavored with hops, angelica, licorice, and a secret ingredient that provides a tingling on the tongue at the end of the swallow. Max Toste of Deep Ellum guessed that it could be wormwood since he has noted similar tasting effects with his bitters infusions.

The Improved Holland Gin Cocktail was one cocktail they served to demonstrate their product. The absinthe and maraschino notes played well together like they do in the Lawhill Cocktail. Instead of the Lawhill's rye whiskey, the Improved Holland Gin Cocktail had a lighter but still malty base which demonstrated how Genever could serve as a good intermediary between English gin and whiskey. Wondrich's comment about the drink was, "rich, fragrant, and delightful... [like] a New York Sazerac!"


Anonymous said...

How does one learn about such events (beforehand) at Drink?

Anonymous said...

I meant to have included in that last post: "Thanks again for another interesting post!"

I often come to this website before cocktaildb when looking for a recipe when I have one or two specific ingredients in mind. Great resource.

frederic said...

This was an invite-only party with the guest list comprised mainly of bartenders, liquor distributers, and press. And scary how bloggers = press these days... Bols' PR firm, not the Drink staff, crafted up the list.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...which is why your blog is a good resource since I now have some ideas for what to do with my bottle of Genever that has been pushed to the back of my liquor cabinet.

Just out of curiosity/future planning (i.e. calling before going), what if the average joe walked in off the street? Is Drink totally closed during these events or are they limited to only a portion of the establishment? Sorry for all the questions.