Monday, October 6, 2008

Bols Genever Gin: Welcome to Flavor Country!

Last Wednesday, thanks to Ed, I was fortunate enough to attend the San Francisco launch event for Bols Genever. For a brain blast of info you might want to check this out, but to oversimplify as I like to do, Genever Gin is made using a grain base (called malt wine) as opposed to the neutral base of London style Gins. What you end up with, for lack of a better description, is a spirit which has the characteristics of both a Whiskey and a Gin. During the formative years of the America's love affair with the cocktail, Genever was the Gin to use, and was the foundational spirit in many of the timeless libations that those of us of the cocktail geek persuasion so adore.

There aren't many Genevers currently on the market here in the states, so any addition to the lineup is good stuff. Moreover, the brands that are out there now are not the easiest to get a hold of, and having a company as large as Bols re-introducing their Genever means it should be less of a pain in the ass for our brethren to get some of this delicious, delicious business. Prior to the "unveiling" we were treated to some cocktails which were being whipped up by H. Joseph Ehrmann (proprietor of Elixir) and his band of merry mixologists. First out was the oft talked about Improved Holland Gin Cocktail -- Both Ed and I were well pleased with this one. My previous run ins with this particular drink had used Anchor Brewing's Genevieve, and much like their Junipero it's got a pretty bold kick to it which isn't bad, but it was nice to see the effect on this drink of a mellower Genever.

The big revelation for me was the next drink that was served, a Collins (I believe they were making them thusly: 2 oz. Bols Genever, 1 oz. lemon juice, .5 oz. rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water) -- Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice, and top with soda water). I've had my fair share of Collins', and it is a perfectly fine drink, but not one I am wont to order on any kind of a regular basis. It just never really pops into my head when I'm concocting at home, or out at the bar. Both Ed and I felt the Genever added a significant new dimension to the drink, and it reminded me of the first Caipirinha I had -- Looking at the ingredients, I had thought it would be a fairly plain drink, but the ephemeral alchemy of the mix made it more than the sum of its parts.

Ed and I were pretty happy when they started bringing around straight samples of the Gin. On the nose it was malty, with the botanicals coming through at the end. The taste pretty much mirrored the nose, with the mild malt flavors giving way to the botanicals in a nice intermingling. The finish was crisp and clean, but didn't make me feel like I was being cheated out the twilight vapors of a good tipple. The rest of the evening was spent mingling with cocktails in hand (things, uh, started getting hazy so you'll forgive me if I don't remember the other drinks that were served), and was generally a ton of fun. During the presentation there was talk of Genever being a perfect substitute for any Whisky cocktail -- I'm not sure I'd agree with that, as I think it requires a bit more consideration when making substitutions. Still, it's a damn tasty product that I'm glad I've got on my shelf, and is worth trying in any number of early American cocktails.

On a totally unrelated note, Ed and I ended up at the same table as David Wondrich, and totally had a geekgasm. Because, you know, I'm a huge dork.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.


erik_flannestad said...

Damn! I knew I should have left work early instead of taking a long lunch. Well, live and learn.

drinkaweek said...

The key is to just take the whole day off. Problem solved!

Cristina said...

Dude, this stuff is apparently the booze of the month. Bourbon & Branch mentioned it in their newsletter last week as being a new addition to their bar. I guess that means I'll have to seek some out. Heh.

drinkaweek said...

I think it's not hard to get cocktail geeks foaming at the mouth with hard to find booze. When it's tasty to boot it's a carnival of madness:) I almost never go to B&B, but I think I may have to just to see what they do with it.