Monday, June 17, 2013

St George and the Gin and Tonic

A while back in the heyday of the absinthe renaissance, there was a legendary (in Texas at least) American absinthe that came on the market. It was notable not only for the quality of the absinthe, but for the monkey on the label beating on a skull with bones instead of drumsticks. And it was notable for the distiller, Lance Winter, whom the New York Times photographed with his gleaming copper still. The distillery had a small but geeky reputation for its eau-di-vie and Single Malt Whiskey, but was more widely known for the Hanger One Vodkas whose brilliant infusions blew open the doors for high-quality infused vodkas. Although St George still produces the vodka, they sold the brand in 2000 allowing them to expand their portfolio.

Which they did.

Into their true love: Gin.

Which happens to be my true love. Big Confession. Even though wine is now my profession, Gin and Tonic has been the singular beverage of my adult life. I've had flings with Beer, Bourbon, Scotch, and Tequila. I've even danced with Cognac, Rum and Eau-di-vie. But there is something about living in a hot climate that makes a well-made GT the most refreshing beverage in the world.

I was almost arrested by Turkish soldiers at the Greek border over an incident about a bottle of Gordon's in the duty free shop. We drank it with tonic, without ice in our cheap hotel in Istanbul. We searched out Genevers in the hash bars of Amsterdam. We never went camping without a bottle of gin, a lime and some tonic and a bag of ice. I've backpacked a flask over the Continental Divide.

Recent years have seen a revival of gins. Fresh botanicals, cucumbers, saffron, herbal infusions designed by celebrity chefs, malt gins, Old Tom gins, Navy gins have filled the shelves, each costing more than the last.
However, I was excited I heard that we were getting St. George Gin. And not one gin, but three. And they are amazing!
The Terroir uses herbs from the California coastal range, primarily Douglas Fir. It tastes like a walk though a damp forest. Drink it from a flask by a glacial lake. Or drink it straight up, icy cold. Maybe an olive.

The Botanivore is their version of classic gin. A clean spirit driven by juniper and citrus, rich, round and smooth. Perfect Martinis and G/Ts apply here.

In the Dry Rye juniper and pepper focus the botanicals on the dry and spicy base rye spirit. The stout backbone will stand up to any flavor. Bring on your bitters, your vermouth and cordials, MIX AWAY!

We also received the St. George Absinthe with the monkey and the bone drumsticks, but minus the skull. The absinthe is impeccable and that's the best way to describe it. Smooth and massive, sweet and bitter, long and complex, with anise aromatics lasting into next week.

Trouble in a heartbeat.

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