Thursday, August 7, 2008

family jewels

1 part rye
1 part green chartreuse
1 part sweet vermouth
1 dash orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

As already mentioned in this blog, Fred and I decided to hit Rendezvous the other evening. This was my second drink there.

This cocktail is a variation of the classic Bijou cocktail, much beloved by classic cocktail gurus everywhere. Alas, the Bijou is not beloved by me[1]. But this drink, this I like, which shouldn't surprise me. Rye and chartreuse work well for me in general, as the flavor of the rye suppresses the pine and elevates the anise (and angelica? something subtly bitter-green) notes in the chartreuse.

The notes I had in my iPhone for this drink: Family Jewel, Bijou variant, 1:1:1 proportions, Old Overholt, Green C, Dry noilly peat (sic) [2].

These notes, they lie. The vermouth used was in fact sweet vermouth (Cinzano), and whether my omission was intentional or not, the "s" on the end of the cocktail's name really should be there, as Scott (as the drink's auteur) pointed out to me in a subsequent email.

I had made a request for some sort of rye or bourbon drink, following up my delicious George Washington Smash. "Green Chartreuse?" Why, yes, lovely, just as long as it doesn't also have gin. "I've got just the thing."

The dizzy cocktail glass he proudly placed before me was filled[3] with a fragrant concoction with a slightly heavy texture. In stark contrast to the fruit and foliage that adorned my last drink[4], it was completely bare. My initial impression was that it was certainly less sweet than the smash. A larger sample tasted pleasantly bitter, with toasted almond stitching together all the other flavors. In far too short a time (though in fact it must have been the better part of an hour), my glass was empty. I was tempted to order another made with a different rye, but it was regrettably past closing time.

I'm already looking forward to going back.

post-script: I made this again at home using Wild Turkey rye and, quite frankly, the spicier rye ruined it. Scott's intuition is far better than mine (no surprise).

post-post script: Actually, it was I who ruined it. This is definitely a cocktail that benefits from the addition of the melt water from the ice. I didn't let the shaker sit for quite long enough before decanting the first time I made it. I corrected this on a subsequent preparation, and the green chartreuse definitely rose to the Turkey's challenge.

[1] The juniper bite of gin tends to pull out the pine-y flavor in chartreuse, and it tastes like I'm drinking Lestoil.
[2] Yes, I'm sure I typed prat, but the iPhone's damned auto-correct feature struck again.
[3] When I say filled, I'm not joking. When we got home, I had Fred measure out how much the glass holds - approximately 7 1/2 oz. My cocktail could very well have been 6 oz. of booze along with an ounce of melted ice. I obviously did not drive home after consuming it.
I am, in general, anti-garnish (and don't get me started on the hatred that burns inside me for the flamed orange peel). However, a smash by definition requires fruit and/or greenery, so I approve in this case. Indeed, I devoured every last bit of cherry/mint/lemon in the drink.

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