Friday, April 26, 2013

La-Morte in the Morning

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

You cannot escape the citrus tinged aromatics of Nolet's Dry Gin. They envelop your personal space, spilling down your forehead and onto your nose, eventually filling your head and your memory with their passionate aromas. Grasp the top and twist it off. It's got serious heft to it. Stainless steel in weight, marked with a seal of authenticity and a bottle number. I know you cannot drink great packaging - what's inside the bottle is the most important feature, and the Holland distilled Nolet's is amongst the best botanical style gins out there.

My tasting notes ran the gamut from "Genever-like" to "herbal and botanical in nature" and back to the classic crisp finish and herbal characteristics that say very finely made gin. There's a bit of citrus in there that reveals itself along with the mouth coating finish that goes on and on. I smell freshly cut hay in the nose and the ever-present heat from the 95.2 proof level of alcohol. This you cannot escape. It's very dangerous in a Negroni and absolutely mind erasing with lemon zest infused ice cubes nursed on by a bit of The Bitter Truth Lemon bitters.


I love The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters. They remind me of the bitter pith of the lemon without the sweet candy flavors that mar many other lemon bitters on the market. Bitters are not supposed to be like gummy bears.  They are meant to add a blast of sour to balance out the sweet! Historically speaking, bitters were originally used as health concentrates. They would be added to a bit of alcohol (ok, maybe more than a bit) and healing would begin.

I can remember the first time I tried gin. I was in the Ivory Coast of Africa with my family. It was 1976. I remember getting off the Pan Am 707 in Abidjan and being assailed immediately by the humidity. The first drink I was given by my "understanding" parents was a tall gin and tonic. I think that it was the first gin and tonic I'd ever enjoyed "for medicinal purposes only"! Why was this for medicinal purposes? Basically, there was a malaria outbreak and not only did I take quinine tablets against this insidious mosquito borne illness, but the relentless heat (100 degrees and 100% humidity) made for a perfect storm of sweat off my young brow. And why not enjoy a gin and tonic with lime? If there was any cocktail that signifies refreshment in equatorial climes, it is the gin and tonic.

Of course my gin in this recipe is a far cry from the traditional G&T cocktails that heralded the coming of neocolonial marauders in formerly wild French West Africa. I wouldn't remember how they made them other than tall and cold. With a lime please. Oh, no lime? Then a lemon will have to do to cure the scurvy.

This cocktail that I call La-Morte in the Morning is named for a very specific reason. It's a play on the classic Ernest Hemmingway Death in the Afternoon cocktail and not just because it's the morning when you imbibe them. A couple of these in the late morning and you won't have a chance to "die again" in the afternoon. They are tall mind erasers and they do the job efficiently and with merit.

But what is the basis for this drink?

The basis for this cocktail is the fruit forward (instead of juniper forward) Nolet's Gin. It's said that Nolet's has made this gin since 1691 so they are quite experienced in the gin world. I said above that this gin tastes like aged gin or Genever. This is my first impression right out of the gate. Instead of attempting to sway your palate towards tonic, I'm hoping you would consider using the lemon variety of the ever-popular Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water. It's crisp, aromatic and very refreshing with a fruit forward gin like Nolet's. I also add a portion of ice, made with water filtered through a German-made Mavea "Inspired Water" Pitcher. I've written that my water, although from a well, is high in minerals, so my ice freezes dull and listless. When I filter it though the Mavea filtration pitcher system, it freezes nearly crystal clear.

This cocktail demands the best ice and the Mavea filtered ice is the best you can use.

I also zest about a dozen lemons and add these zests to the filtered water. Then I freeze this amalgamation overnight using a Tupperware gallon container in the freezer, then hand cut the cubes to the desired shape with a wood working chisel and a rubber mallet. As the ice melts, the flavor of the zest works its way into your subconscious. The citrus perks up your sense of taste and the gin slowly puts a smile on your face. The use of The Bitter End Lemon Bitters deepen the experience and the Perrier Sparkling water with the lemon essence makes for a play on the romance of zesty to crisp to vividly sensual.

The aromatics of the fresh lemon juice will limber up your throat and raise your ardor. This is a cocktail that is meant to loosen (and remove) your clothing when enjoyed on a blistering hot and humid day. It can also make going back to bed easier if you are enjoying with a like-minded friend who appreciates the fullest potential for certainly more interesting morning activities other than going to work.

The La-Morte in the Morning Cocktail will souse TWO of your most sturdy friends.

Ingredients:

• 6 oz. Nolet's Silver Dry Gin (shooting for about 3 oz. of liquor per drink, so it's not a 99 pound weakling of a cocktail.)
• 3 oz. Simple Syrup
• 2 oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 3 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in lemon flavor
• 5-7 shakes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
• .50 Darjeeling tea for the wash
• A few handfuls of the Mavea (lemon zest) infused ice into a Boston Shaker
• Fresh Kentucky Colonel Mint

Preparation:

1. Add the liquor, simple syrup and lemon juice (making a quick and easy lemonade) to your Boston Shaker that already has been filled ¾ with the lemon zest infused ice.
2. Wash two Collins glasses out with the Darjeeling tea (then discard the tea).
3. Fill the glasses with a couple hand-cut chunks of the infused lemon zest ice.
4. Shake your Boston Shaker 15 seconds at least for greatest frosty effects.
5. Strain the gin mixture over the infused ice and add a few shakes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters over the top of each glass.
6. Garnish with a lemon pinwheel and a sprig of the mint.
7. Finish with about an ounce of the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water (Lemon).

Sip carefully!  This is certainly a danger level 5 out of 5!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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