When I started my journey with spirits I didn’t particularly love gin. It wasn’t until I started really tasting a wide spectrum of gins that I realized that I actually really like good gin (especially in the “bartender’s nightmare” – the Ramos Gin Fizz). Good gin has a symphony of notes which a good bartender can play with. Whether it’s the usual core note of juniper or one of the other spices and flavors from the botanical bouquet, gin is a virtual toolbox of flavors from which some amazing drinks can be made.
On a recent evening I decided to dedicate my entire night to gin. I hopped between two of my favorite Portland, Oregon bars, The Teardrop Lounge and Spints Ale House (with the extremely sharp restauranteur Alyssa Gregg).
My first drink was at Spints and it’s a drink that was created by Alyssa Gregg and bar manager Ted Charak called The Pithy Girl:
1 1/2 oz gin (I called it with Aviation Gin from House Spirits)
3/4 oz gregg marnier (house made Grand Marnier)
1/2 orange juice
1/4 simple syrup
6 dashes orange bitters
3 drops orange blossom water
Shake & strain; orange twist.
What I love about the Pithy Girl is how well the citrus plays with the gin. It’s sweet without being too sweet and the orange aromatics are absolutely delightful. The Aviation Gin has a nice complexity of spice and flavors which gives this drink a lot of layers, but ultimately it’s a very tasty and well-balanced drink.
My next stop was the Teardrop Lounge. My original Ramos Gin Fizz article came out of a discussion with a Teardrop Bartender when I asked what drink is the most challenging for a bartender on a busy shift. In a bit of ‘bartender magic’, the bartender served up a phenomenal Ramos Gin Fizz within moments of me sitting down at the bar.
This Gin Fizz typifies some of the things I love about this drink. Through a vigorous shake he gets the egg whites to almost meringue and stand a clear inch above the top of the glass. The drink has a slight feel of effervescence with the orange blossom flower lightly dancing through the drink. the bartender used Ransom Old Tom Gin which lent a nice richness to the drink with a slight savory undertone. This now ranks as the best gin fizz I’ve had to date.
You can find the Ramos Gin Fizz recipe here, but the bartender’s technique to get that stiff and beautiful egg white top is still a mystery to me.
The final (and probably best gin drink of the evening) was and original creation, the Ephemeral:
1½ oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1 oz Dolin Blanc
⅓ oz St. Germain
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with grapefruit zest twist.
Old Tom Gin is a spirit that was basically ‘lost’ after the end of prohibition and it comes from a old tactic to take an unpalatable spirit, soften and sweeten it by putting it into barrel to age. Ransom’s Old Tom Gin is absolutely delicious. While it still has some dominant cardamom notes, like their Small’s Gin, it’s not nearly as overpowering. Instead, the Old Tom Gin is sweet and well rounded with a depth of flavor.
Mixed with the Dolin Blanc and St. Germain, the Old Tom Gin takes on some wonderfully sweet and floral qualities. The Ephemeral manages to have a softness and delicacy while still delivering an extremely full and balanced flavor.
I’ve been enjoying my journey with gin and hope to discover even more fantastic and unique gin cocktails.Three Great Gin Drinks by Geoff Kleinman