Summertime is the time for gin because it melds so beautifully with most fruit and citrus juices.
In Olde England, the term Gin and Juice (most likely gin with a splash of juice for color) was the common way to drink this 400 year-old spirit.
In British and French Colonial Africa, local juice was added to gin, possibly to kill the taste of then quite primitive gin, but also to introduce a bit of healing to this tempestuous and potent spirit. Quinine water was also added as history teaches us, most likely to stave off the poison from mosquitoes that carry the insidious malaria virus. Quinine water also masked the flavor of the primitive gin and made it drinkable.
Gin is a handy thing to drink when you want a quick buzz without much fuss. In later years gin has undergone a renaissance of sorts with distillation methods that date back to the Middle-Ages.
Take the Barr Hill Gin from Caledonia Spirits in Vermont for instance. This is a gorgeous, crystalline, handmade slurp of history. I’ve tasted a plethora of gin in recent weeks but nothing has come close to the honey-tinged lusciousness that oozes through my mouth with alacrity. Barr Hill Gin it seems is taking hold in my liquor shelf as the go/to for flavor and copious character.
Barr Hill goes famously with stone fruits! But how can that be? Stone fruits and gin happen to be a lovely way to enjoy the juniper tinged spirits. The honey in Barr Hill melds well with the sweet and sumptuous flavors that come from stone fruits. In keeping with my cocktail whisperer desires to unlock hidden secrets held within each sip, I’ve taken early summer fruits like plums, cherries and peaches, then grilled them to unlock their deeper flavors.
Plums are starting to show themselves at farm stands around the Southern states and luscious peaches are only mere weeks away from being ready to slurp. Cherries are at their peak.
Sailor Jerry Rum is also on my flavor based radar. I love mixing it with all sorts of juices. Grilled fruit juices go especially well with this aromatic rum that is stuffed full of Caribbean seasonings and baking spices.
Did you know that Sailor Jerry tastes just fabulous when mixed with a portion of the Barr Hill Gin? There is something about the juniper and deeper notes of honey that melds beautifully with the spices and molasses based rum. I stumbled upon this method quite by accident. I had “washed” a glass out with Barr Hill Gin for another purpose, set it aside and forgotten about it. In my Boston Shaker I made a rum punch with grilled stone fruits as a base. The rum of course was the seductively spicy Sailor Jerry. The glasses were at the ready and I had forgotten, at least for the moment, that the Barr Hill Gin was coating their interior walls sticking to the thick glass.
First of all I lit my charcoal grill and let the coals get really sizzling hot. I then sliced plums and the early peaches in half. I also added some cherries to the mix. Then I grilled them over the hot charcoal until they were charred all over. I let them cool and added them to a Boston shaker. I muddled them until their perfume and juice was released. I added a few sprigs of spearmint from the garden to the shaker and muddled them a bit more. Then I added some Sailor Jerry rum (recipe below) to the shaker. A bit of Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Cardamom and Clove went into the shaker and I filled the shaker ¾ with ice.
Over the top I added a few shakes of the Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters and shook this like crazy for about 15 seconds or so.
I then rubbed the inside of two old fashioned glasses with mint, then added about ½ ounce of the Barr Hill Gin and poured it out- (into my mouth as not to waste anything), then I added a couple large hand-cut cubes of ice to the cut crystal glass. Giving my grilled fruit laden, rum punch a final couple of shakes I double strained the sumptuous liquid into the Barr Hill Gin washed glasses.
I'm rather fond of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water because of the pin-point bubbles, this adds a bit of fizz to the punch. The garnish is a simple one, just a scraping of fresh nutmeg over the top and perhaps a slice or two of the grilled peaches or plums and the grilled cherries.
It’s the Caribbean meeting Vermont in an Old Fashioned glass.
The Swashbuckler Cocktail
Ingredients for two thirsty landlubbers pirate types
4 oz. Sailor Jerry Rum
1/4 oz. in each glass (then poured out into your mouth) Barr Hill Gin
2 peaches and 2 plums grilled and cooled
4-5 cherries (per drink) grilled then cooled
2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oz. Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Cardamom and Clove
Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters (to taste)
Hand cut ice
Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in lemon
Freshly scraped nutmeg
Grill your summer fruits over charcoal. If you don't have a charcoal grill you can char them in a cast iron pan
Add the fruits to a Boston Shaker
Muddle with a few pinches of Spearmint
Add a few shakes of the Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters to the shaker
Add the Royal Rose simple syrup
Add the lemon juice
Add the Sailor Jerry Rum
Wash your Old Fashioned glass out with Barr Hill Gin. (pour into your mouth as not to waste the precious spirits)
Rub the inside of the glass with spearmint
Add one large cube of hand cut ice to your glass
Shake your Boston Shaker for about 15 seconds then double strain the liquid into your Old Fashioned glass
Add as much of the Perrier as you like and a final scrape of nutmeg over the top
Garnish with a few slices of grilled plums, cherries and/or peaches
Sip to a swashbuckling good time! Make two then make a couple more.. You'll want to!