"Gin is a summer spirit."
I have heard this supposed wise adage for years and years, and perhaps it's my contrarian nature or just the fact that I love gin and gin cocktails so much, but I have NEVER paid particularly close attention to this advice. For goodness sakes one of my favorite gin drinks is the Alaska Cocktail, and I don't necessarily think summer paradise when I think of Alaska...actually, I think of Johnny Horton, Sam, huskies and finding Big Nuggets of gold!
So, to honor my contrarian nature, Let's Celebrate Gin in January! It's time for #GINUARY folks. It's time to throw caution to the wind, grab your favorite bottle of gin and get down to enjoying juniper and the cooler weather. Stay tuned this month as we will be announcing several drink recipes, cool weather mixers and recipes, events, tastings, happenings and general schenanigans related to that ephemeral spirit: GIN!
One of the first ways I differentiate seasonality in my cocktails is through the flavor profiles of my mixers and spirits. While I drink Gin in the winter, I do not find myself reaching for the tonic that much...unless of course I am in that mood, or the heat gets turned up and I begin to need that refreshment. However, I do find myself re-imagining some of the classic gin cocktails and working up new recipes and ideas to complement our juniper spirit friend with cool weather flavors. For example, The Knox Whiskey Works take on the Alaska Cocktail: the Alaska (via Knoxville) Cocktail is a perfect example. By substituting a seasonally spiced pear bitters (recipe follows) for the traditional orange bitters, we've flipped the seasonal switch and made this a perfect cold weather cocktail.
*Knox Whiskey Works Spiced Pear Bitters*
3 Local Pears, cored and chopped
Lemon Zest (1 Lemon - we use a microplane)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/4 teaspoon allspice berries
3/4 teaspoon gentian root
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped - retaining & using all the seeds
big knob of peeled ginger, grated or chopped
2 cups high alcohol grain neutral spirit
2 tablespoons rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
Combine all ingredients except simple syrup in glass sealable container. Store for three weeks out of direct sunlight and shake at least once a day.
After three weeks, strain all the solids out of the liquid and repeat with cheesecloth until all sediment has been filtered out of the bitters. Then combine with simple syrup and store, in well-sealed glass container for three more days. Decant and label bitters. The bitters should last indefinitely.
*Recipe based loosely on Pear Bitters page 74 from Brad Thomas Parsons AMAZING book Bitters