Spirits & Cocktails

Snooth User: gr

My two (current) favorite specialty liqueurs

Posted by gr, Nov 25, 2008.

(Wow, I haven't been paying very close attention, or I'd've already flooded this section...)

In the past few years, various liqueurs have seen a bit of a resurgence due to the active promotion of Proper Cocktails by people like Gary Regan and Jamie Boudreau. (That's in addition to an explosion of gins--Hendrick's is wildly popular again, Bluecoat is distilled in Philly, South is getting shipped over from New Zealand--, the reappearance on these shores of absinthe, several good amari and vermouths I don't remember seeing commonly eight years ago popping up... possibly some of this is that *I* started paying closer attention, but I don't think it's just me.)

Here are two I like very much and a few recipes/recommendations:

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St. Germain - http://www.stgermain.fr/ - flavored with elderberry flowers

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(gr's modification of) their French Pear Martini:
1.5 measures St. Germain
1 measure decent vodka (I like Kettle One)
1 measure Poire Williams
Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, top with one of soda, champagne, or prosecco (they taste different, but they're all fine)

(St. Germain's version of that is 1.5 measures St.G + 1.5 of "pear vodka" + champagne. A pox on flavored vodkas! They also recommend a sugared rim which, eh, I could take or leave.)

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The Stiles (mine):
4 measures Plymouth gin (or an equally neutral gin; you don't want to use something so citrusy as Bluecoat on this)
1 measure St. Germain
1 measure Lillet blanc

Even though it's kind of a clear drink, go ahead and shake it. Serve in a standard cocktail glass, garnish with a flamed* lemon peel--rim the glass with it, and include it in the drink.

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(Something traditional I have forgotten the name of, although I noted the ingredients when Misty @ Drink in Boston made it for me):
1.5 measures Junipero (overproof) gin
0.5 measure St. Germain
1.5(?) measures fresh grapefruit juice
a couple dashes of Peychaud's bitters

Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass.

(I'm not 100% on those volumes, I may respond later to update them.)

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Domaine de Canton - http://www.domainedecanton.com/ - ginger-flavored

I only just yesterday finally picked up a bottle of this, so I haven't played with it much, and I'm eagerly awaiting the recipes from their still-running bartender of the year awards--semis in Boston this coming weekend (see their web page for more details). La Coloniale (on the label and on their website) is excellent.

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For the record, combining these two does NOT work terribly well.

* Cut a chunk of peel two to three times as wide as you'd normally make a twist from a lemon (or any citrus, but lemons and oranges work best) with a paring knife or wide-mouthed vegetable peeler, strike a match and hold it near the peel (not close enough to scorch it) over the drink. After heating the peel for a few seconds squeeze it hard at the edges to shoot the oils out, through the flame, onto the drink. Some people rub the rim of the glass with the fruit and then always discard it, but I think it should be in some drinks. Ordinarily, people only do this with brown liquors as a base, but I think it offsets the sweetness and citrus in the Stiles well.

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Replies

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Reply by Philip James, Nov 25, 2008.

Awesome Gr - I'm hoping to try some fun stuff at Counter on Friday

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Reply by alavaughn, Feb 25, 2009.

One of the places I work at has a cocktail called the Orient express, it's delicious. I'm not sure of the exact amounts, but the basic ingredients are Domaine de Canton, single orchard yuzu juice, lime syrup, and a distressed kaffir lime leaf. Darn tasty.

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Reply by gr, Feb 25, 2009.

Where do you work, alavaughn? Sounds a bit on the sugary side for my taste, although I don't really have a taste memory for yuzu (Mr. Internet says "sour", so maybe I'm mistaken) and can see the appeal in any case. There's probably some gin or vodka in there too (Canton isn't really high enough proof relative to its sugar content to be a base by itself).

A lot of bartenders have come out with new drinks using the Domain de Canton over the course of the past year... largely because Canton were running a contest encouraging them to do so. (That's buried in their website: no way to actually link directly to it, it's all a Flash mess. It's worth skimming the list of semi-finalists though, as it provides an incomplete list of suggestions of good establishments in various cities.)

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Reply by alavaughn, Feb 25, 2009.

Sigh. Where don't I work right now? That's how it feels. I'm several places at the moment, but the cocktail centric place is called Nacional 27. I just started there. It's Adam Seger's restaurant. He's a scary genius with cocktails. And a really nice guy. He's got some really cool stuff on the cocktail list. A cigar infused, apple wood smoked bourbon, house made Pimms, bitters, vermouth etc. I'm really looking forward to learning some things from him! And yes, you must be right, there has to be some sort of gin or vodka in it, but I can't for the life of me remember which one right now. I'm thinking it must be vodka, because I don't remember tasting gin, and now really want to try to make it with gin..... It's a good drink though, and not sweet, but super fruity. Yuzu is Japanese grapefruit so it's pretty tart. I promise to never steer you toward a sugar bomb! Adam may have entered that contest, he does a lot of them.

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Reply by gr, Feb 25, 2009.

Fair enough. After noting your post about wine tasting in Chicago and glancing over the semi-finalist list, Nacional 27 was on my shortlist of probables. Looks like Adam did submit something, quite probably exactly that drink. (The Drawing Room, Sepia, and the Violet Hour—no Canton submissions but friends of mine know people there—were my other guesses.) There's no Philadelphia section on there, but one of my friends from Apothecary here, Phil Watts, went up for the New York competition and the whole thing was run by Tad Carducci (http://tipplingbrothers.com/tippler... ), who's a minority partner in Apothecary, involved in some joints in the Village, and Averna's east coast brand rep. Most of the places on Canton's list are reliable in their respective cities (although tack Drink on for Boston; it was just opening when the recipe submissions for the contest were due).

I haven't been in Chicago for a few years, although if you happen through St. Louis, I can recommend wherever Ted Kilgore's (http://www.riverfronttimes.com/best... ) working at the time (currently Monarch, but he was talking about starting up his own place, part cocktail bar part bartender teaching space).

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Reply by gr, Feb 25, 2009.

Oh, also: I expect he's using vodka, there's no reason to get too fancy with all that other fancy stuff already in there.

For gin, with that much flavor already present, any decent London dry gin (ie, Tanqueray or Bombay *Dry*&Sapphire is a vodka masquerading as a gin) or something fairly neutral like Plymouth would be fine. It might be fun with something with a bit more character like Hendrick's, Tru, or Old Tom, but would probably take some rebalancing.

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Reply by gr, Feb 25, 2009.

" Oops ." ;^>

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Reply by alavaughn, Feb 27, 2009.

Yes, I was thinking Hendrick's. I'm particularly infatuated with it right now. And I often frequent the Violet hour, although I haven't been to Sepia yet, I've heard great things about their cocktail list. Another one, if you ever swing through Chicago, is The Bristol. It's Chris Pandel's new place, and they have some great cocktails on their list, and the food is awesome, as is the wine list. It's my new favorite neighborhood haunt.

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 11, 2009.

OK, i picked up a bottle of Domaine de Canton last night (along with some of that small lot Hudson Bourbon as well, but thats a different story). Tried it as a martini with vodka. It was pretty potent as the ginger is quite fiery, so ended up dousing it with a splash of soda water. I think i'll try it as a Kir Royale style drink (ie, sparkling wine and a dash of the ginger).

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Reply by gr, Apr 11, 2009.

Yeah, that's way too much. It's not a base, it's a cordial. (Note, relatively, how little is in the recipes I mentioned above.) I think they list a Kir Royale / Champagne Cocktail recipe on that dinky little tag around the neck of the bottle, which is probably not a bad place to start.

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 11, 2009.

The 2 parts vodka, 2 parts canton was on the neck tag as well. The champagne one is easy t make and probably less fiery.

I'll trawl through some of the easier recipes you've suggested here or from what youve told me face to face

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Reply by gr, Apr 11, 2009.

Yeah, that's why I usually end up steering away from those label recipes, but it's pretty hard to screw up a champagne cocktail. (I'd probably add a dash of orange bitters, though.)

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 13, 2009.

The neck tag recipes have merit, but they often include way too much of the product whose neck they are on! I usually discount by at least 50%.

@gr - is it just me, or is Canton harder to mix with? I've come up with a few St G cocktails - it is surprisingly good with Rye... which doesn't seem like an obvious one offhand but it works. Canton, on the other hand, is like Scotch. It doesn't intrinsically play nice in the mixing tin. I guess that also comes from the fact that it is pretty strongly flavored.

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 13, 2009.

@Philip - does your purchase of Canton mean that it was the winner in the first round of the Elderflower vs. Ginger contest?

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 13, 2009.

Yeah, the Elderflower was too sweet for me. It worked well as a Kir substitute, but I feel the Canton with its more unique and powerful taste is more differentiated.

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 13, 2009.

But it's ginger - available for $2.99 a pound at any market.
What's more differentiated than elderflower - haven't seen those for sale at the Union Square Greenmarket yet!

However, I agree with you that St G. comes across as vaguely floral, but very vinous and fruity - even sweet. It mixes really well with white and sparkling wine and make many delicious tipples for "the ladies." The cocktail challenge is to offset it with sour and bitter components to make something truly remarkable.

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Reply by gr, Apr 13, 2009.

Yeah, you're not wrong. The problem with the Canton is that it's both a sweet and a savory addition, the latter of which is a strong flavor in the aftertaste, so you don't want too much, but both effects can be washed out pretty easily by too much sour / other sweet flavor. St. Germain, on the other hand, is strictly sweet, so you can throw it in as the 3/4 sweet portion in any sour recipe. In my opinion, this makes Canton more interesting...

And since you've got me on the topic, a friend (Nicole, which I'm also calling the drink for lack of any other inspiration) brought along a can of lychee fruit in syrup to this past weekend's party at my place, and suggested I make something up with them, in which I used Canton:

1.25 oz gin (I used Bluecoat)
1 oz Domaine de Canton
0.75 oz lychee syrup
0.125 (bar spoon) lemon juice
3 dashes orange bitters

shake on ice, strain into a champagne flute with a lychee fruit in the bottom, top with champagne

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Reply by joss, Apr 21, 2009.

not too long ago i had an elderberry liquer cocktail at a restaurant opening that was one of the best cocktails i'd ever remember having. i've been wanting to buy a bottle and begin experimenting ever since...

anyone got any other recommended recipes to add w/ gr's french pear martini?

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Reply by gr, Apr 21, 2009.

Without any idea of what was in the cocktail you liked (do you recall?), I'd say just start with a sour: 2 oz your base of choice, ¾ oz souring agent (lemon juice, say), ¾ sweetening agent (the St. Germain), shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Then decide which flavor direction you want to go from there.

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Reply by joss, Apr 21, 2009.

gr8, gr! thanx fr the tips. i believe the drink i had had a very good vodka. it seemed a simple drink, no flavors competing with each other, highlighting the elderberry. some say here the elderberry is overly sweet, so whatever the proportions or other ingredients that offset it were perfect; it was sweet, but gently and subtly so. no pucker or toothache factor. i gotta figure it out; it was so very good.

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