Friday, October 16, 2009

[baby steps]

2 oz. Hendrick's gin
1/4 oz. St. Germain
1/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1 dash celery bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Express grapefruit oil (pink, I believe) over the top and drop grapefruit twist into the glass.
By the time I was ready for my second cocktail at Drink on Tuesday night, I felt nice and warm. Fred had mentioned wanting a gin cocktail for his first, and that stuck in my head. I sat a minute, and thought about one of my recent accomplishments - I ran my very first road race the day before: the Tufts 10K. Though I've been running for over 10 years, I'd always been afraid to compete. A year ago, I couldn't even imagine finishing a 10K, never mind finishing with sub-9 minute miles. I mastered my fear of competing, so I thought about other things I've been afraid of... like the combination of gin and chartreuse.

I've tried classically-styled gin cocktails with both green (Bijou, Green Ghost, Last Word) and yellow (Alaska) chartreuse. Heck, I've even invented a cocktail that contained gin and yellow, but there was enough other *stuff* in there that I didn't mind. Once a cocktail approaches equal proportions of gin and chartreuse, a flavor component surfaces that tastes far too sharp to my palate, but I could never quite figure out how to describe that flavor. It just tastes like PANIC. About the only clue I had to go on was that I also can't stand Citadelle gin for much the same reason. Though I've loved gin since I was a wee lass, I did have one gincident a couple of years ago, and it involved a cocktail made with Citadelle. So that flavor might trigger a classic Garcia Effect. Honestly, I'm ready to be over it now.

So I asked Misty to be my gin/chartreuse trainer. She set to work, and Fred noted when she brought out the duct tape of cocktails - St. Germain. "Baby steps," she said, as she poured the cocktail into a pretty etched cocktail glass. I sniffed and got a blast of refreshing grapefruit. And then I took a sip. PANIC, OMG PANIC, hey wait, kinda tastes like ... grapefruit, ahh. Subsequent sips gave me exactly the same experience, the wave of fear, followed a few seconds later by the calming bittersweet grapefruit flavor. Misty suggested that the grapefruit was playing Jedi mindtricks on my tongue ("These aren't the flavors you're looking for. Move along."). It also gave me an idea about the origin of the flavor, which I concluded is a variant of bitter citrus. I'm not normally averse to bitter citrus - I can eat lemon and lime wedges perfectly well. Since I show the same aversion to Citadelle, Misty suggested that I look up the botanicals in Citadelle to see if anything stands out. One reviewer suggested that it tasted very bitter orange, and I wonder if that is the key. I'd be curious to see if my fellow cocktail aficionado R. has even experienced anything similar, since she is in fact allergic to oranges.

This was a good beginning for me. Baby steps, as Misty said. With training, perhaps someday I'll complete a gin/chartreuse marathon.

A note on the cocktail name: I briefly considered calling this cocktail "Jedi Mind Trick", but I changed my mind.


Anonymous said...

I like the smell of oranges, it's been so long since I tasted one that I'm not sure how my taste buds would react, apart from sprouting hives. I do get a PANIC POISON BAD GET IT AWAY feeling from the taste of celery, though. I have no idea how anybody can eat it. Or drink it.

Ken Moorhead said...

My condolences on the "PANIC!" you experience with gin. I have the same aversion, caused by the juniper (for the same reasons... a bad night with Bombay Sapphire). After 4 years avoiding it, I've been working up the nerve to give it another shot.

I've seen Chartreuse popping up in more and more of the recipes I'm coming across lately and will definitely be adding it to the bar soon.

Tony Harion said...

I used to have a problem with agave spirits a while back, now a days i Just Love them. Took a little while, but totally worth the “rehab process”.
Looking at the recipe I could only think that this cocktail is almost cheating. There is no way for it not to be good. Way to go Misty!