Gin Tonique

Gin ToniqueContinuing to be inspired by the Mezcal Tonique, I have been playing around more with tonic syrup as an ingredient in a non-bubbly cocktail. This ended up being something of a variant on the Martinez and nicely straddled the line between rich and refreshing. As in a Martinez, adding some orange bitters could be helpful.

2.0 oz gin (New Amsterdam)
0.5 oz Lillet
0.5 oz Luxardo
0.5 oz tonic syrup (Tomr's)
Stir with ice and strain

The major impression is of ripe stone fruit with lots of apricot and roasty/oxidized flavors. The noise is lighter; floral and grape/lychee. This starts off sweet, and I was worried it might get cloying, but then the bitterness kicked in and balanced it out. So, not this cocktail isn’t balanced all at once, but becomes so over the course of the sip. The gin, despite its volume, is really a background player here, but addsneeded clarity. I previously made a version with just 1.5 oz gin, but I like this version bettter, as it’s more open.

Fernet’s Last Theorem

Fernet's Last Theorem, flanked by previous attempts at theorems

My friend Ash came up with a bad math pun involving Fernet and Fermat. A drink had to be made and a Last Word variant seemed like a good choice. Finally after months of talking about the bad idea over drinks, we got down to actually mixing up some possibilities. We considered replacing the gin with bourbon and even cachaça, replacing the lime with lemon, and even excluding the Chartreuse altogether. On our 5th try, we settled on something close to the original, but worthy of the name.

0.75 oz  Fernet (Branca)
0.75 oz  gin (New Amsterdam)
0.75 oz  Maraschino
0.75 oz  lime Juice
0.375 oz Green Chartreuse

One thing that became clear in testing is that the Chartreuse was necessary to tame the bite of the Fernet a bit and get it to play well with the rest of the drink. The lime juice also helped settle it, the bite from the lemon juice and the bite from the Fernet were too much and fought one another—in your mouth. The lime and Chartreuse combo work with the Fernet and not against it. The New Amsterdam is nicely inoffensive and mixes well, but the bourbon and cachaça masked the Fernet.

The drink starts off bright and then mellows with some sweetness and then ends with a lime/mint aftertaste that is not overpowering. It’s refreshing and sour, but surprisingly balanced. Also, it doesn’t come off at all medicinal (save a bit in the aftertaste), which is surprising given the amount of herbal here. A Last Word variant I’ll definitely make again!

Ultima Palabra

Ultima Palabra

I am a big fan of herbal cocktails and sours, so it’s not a big surprise that I enjoy the Last Word (equal parts gin, Chartreuse, Maraschino, and lime juice). Happily, its simple formula is quite amenable to variations. My favorite of these is the Ultima Palabra, which swaps out the gin for a smoky mezcal.

0.75 oz mezcal (Vida)
0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
0.75 oz Maraschino
0.75 oz lime juice

Shake and strain

This drink really covers a lot of bases. It starts off sour, moves through sweet, and ends with bitter that lingers. It’s satisfying enough to drink slowly, but the sour pucker makes me want to keep drinking—am impressive feat given its potency. It’s not the sort of cocktail that I’d normally refer to as “balanced” (it’s certainly not smooth), but the assertive parts all play off one another so well that a balance is achieved.