1 oz Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ethereal Gin
1 1/4 oz Watermelon Shrub (*)
1 oz Dolin Dry
1/2 oz Boroli Barolo Chinato
2 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with 1 oz soda water, garnish with a sprig of opal basil, and add a straw.
(*) while not how Craigie on Main makes it (see text below), one recipe for watermelon shrub is here.
Two Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I paid a visit to Craigie on Main where Ted Gallagher and Jared Sadoian were tending bar. On the menu was a delightful sounding drink, the Merchant's Wife, that included watermelon shrub in a highball format. When I inquired about the drink, Ted commented that they had a lot of vinegar pressed watermelon from the kitchen, and the shrub was a combination of cold and hot methods that utilized cider vinegar and plain sugar. I was intrigued; therefore, I asked Ted for the Merchant's Wife but requested that he not tell the merchant though.
The opal basil provided an attractive centerpiece to the Merchant's Wife; despite its different coloration, this cultivar is not too much different from normal basil, and its aroma worked well with the hint of watermelon that poked through. The sip came across as a citrussy red wine flavor with a bit of carbonation. Perhaps the citrus flavor was a combination of the bubbles and the shrub's vinegar since there was no citrus other than peel notes in the gin and vermouth. The sip also contained cinnamon from the Angostura Bitters that complemented the Barolo Chinato flavors. Finally, the swallow showcased the watermelon and the gin. Overall, the Merchant's Wife was rather savory from the vinegar in the shrub and from the herbal notes in the gin and wines, and it would probably make for a great aperitif.