One of the new things we picked up in DC was a half-bottle of Leopold Brothers’ Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur.  It was something of an impulse buy – we had just longingly contemplated a bottle of Clear Creek’s Douglas Fir Eau de Vie, and decided it was too expensive, so I guess we were primed for anything mountainous.  Also, the night before we had gotten the chance to try a couple of cocktails made with the Leopold Brother’s Apple Whiskey, which was a little odd but quite tasty, so the Three Pins seemed not to pose much of a risk.  It was that or the Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur, and I had already tasted that one.

The Three Pins turned out to be a nice herbal liqueur with distinct pine and eucalyptus notes.  It seemed a natural to pair it with gin, and the odd, almost vegetal notes of Bonal recommended it as another good match.  I threw together the following, which turned out to be one of those rare, pleasing, totally right cocktails.

K-12 Cocktail (original recipe):

  • 1 1/2 oz Old Tom gin (Ransom)
  • 3/4 oz Bonal
  • 3/4 oz Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters (Scrappy’s)
    Stir, strain, garnish with lemon peel.

Beautiful.  The strong citrus notes of the Ransom Old Tom and the grapefruit bitters tame the herbal intensity of the Three Pins and the bitterness of the Bonal.  It’s one of those drinks that is perfectly balanced – a clear, limpid, taste that is interesting and complex without being overpowering or syrupy.

The name?  Well, the trick is to go that way, very fast, and if something gets in your way, turn.  It seemed appropriately mountainous.