Whenever we go out to unfamiliar bars and restaurants, we find ourselves besieged by giant cocktails.  I understand that folks want value for their money, but I like being able to find my table after a drink at the bar.  Cocktails eight ounces and up are still woefully common, even at places that brag of their bar programs.  Our trip to bars unknown in Portland and Cambridge, beset with this and other perils, led me to think about the original Cocktail.

That august drink, on which so much today depends, was meant to be drunk very cold, very short, and very quickly.  While I wouldn’t recommend it as a general policy, I think that in completely abandoning that history we might lose something.

Improved Gin Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz Holland gin (Bols Genever)
  • 1 barspoon simple syrup
  • 1 dash absinthe (Herbsaint)
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters)
    Stir with ice, strain into cocktail glasses, and garnish with a lemon peel.  Don’t shoot it, but don’t tarry, either.

I feel like the genever I have doesn’t get enough love, so rather than a whiskey or brandy cocktail I went for it.  I’ve always liked the way that anise liqueurs go with genever, but in retrospect I think orange or lemon bitters would have added some sweetness.  Or possibly those homemade cherry-vanilla bitters which Mark once drank an entire bottle of; cherry goes really well with the malt in genever.  The extremely clove-y Jerry Thomas bitters pushed the gin in an Orwellian direction I didn’t really like.  Still, tasty and to the point.

I have these double-walled, double-shot glasses from CB2 which I’ve gotten extremely fond of.  They hold about three and a half ounces, so are perfect for boozy cocktails I want to keep very cold.  No, I don’t knock them back in one go.  That’s what Brennivin is for.