Thursday, June 5, 2008

Flirting with Flora: Martin Miller's G&T Competition

I was recently made aware of a shiny new cocktail competition, this one being organized by Martin Miller's Gin - a company whose well-traveled product is "born of love, obsession and madness". The challenge? Put a creative spin on the classic Gin & Tonic of course. This nifty competition appealed to me for four reasons:

1. I love a spot of Gin & the award-winning Miller's is a pretty fine example of the spirit.
2. I'm fairly partial to G&T's and, as I've said before, I love to mess with the ingredients of the classics.
3. Anything born of "love, obsession & madness" has got my vote nailed down, as I've an over-abundance of the last two (but if you're reading this you probably already knew that).
4. A (long) shot at the prize: a trip to this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, which I won't otherwise be attending for reasons of finance - pretty sad, I know - I'll get out there one of these years...

So what did yours truly bring to the table? Given my relatively-recent obsession with flora as a flavor element in cocktails, as well the fact that the (crazy) weather has settled some, I turned to my backyard for some inspiration which I found in the form of:

Honeysuckle is a flowering vine which inundates large portions of the East Coast's wooded areas from mid-spring to summer. The flowers, aside from their pleasant aroma contain tiny droplets of a delicate, subtly-sweet nectar - which I recall madly imbibing huge quantities of in the summer months of my childhood. My backyard is filled with the stuff which, due to the weather, has only just begun to fully bloom.

Tarragon is a common kitchen herb, in fact, one of the four fines herbes crucial to French cuisine (& a much-loved addition to much of my own cooking). With its pungent, anise-esque flavor it also serves as an interesting addition to certain cocktails, as the folks over at Imbibe have just reported. I had just plucked a bit from the planter & had been drying it out on the windowsill anyway, so...

To my feeble palate Martin Miller's has some nice botanical notes combined with a rich, almost silky, mouthfeel. In considering the ingredients that I spied both inside & out, I settled on a savory, almost bittersweet approach to the standard G&T. In spite of my recent tinkerings with home-made Tonic water, as inspired by Jeffery Morgenthaler's fantastic article on the subject, I wasn't sure my syrup was up to snuff, so I settled on the pretty solid-tasting Stirrings Tonic water for my entry (©):

A Midsummer Night's Tonic
2 oz. Martin Miller's Gin
1½ Tsp: Pimm's No. 1 Cup
20 fresh Honeysuckle flowers
¼ Tsp: Tarragon, freshly-dried
2 dashes: Regan's Orange bitters #6
5 oz. Stirrings Tonic water
Combine ingredients (except Tonic) in a shaker & dry-shake (without ice) for 30 seconds.
Prepare a chilled Highball glass by twisting long strips of Lemon & Lime peels into an approximation of a "vine" & crown with a pair of fresh Honeysuckle flowers. Add a few large ice cubes & fine strain the shaken mixture into the prepared glass.
Top with Tonic water, stir & serve ice cold with a smile like Puck himself...

The folks over at Martin Miller's have limited the competitions to locations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami & Atlanta and entries are due in by June 15th. Short notice I know, but with a starting point as versatile as the Gin & Tonic, I doubt many of you clever readers will have any trouble at surpassing my little attempt, so if you're a bartender located in or around any of the locales toss up an entry. We need more quality Gin-based libations in this Vodka-soaked world after all...

Cheers & Enjoy!


Tiare said...

NICE Chris! the Honeysuckle is my fav summer blossom..what fragrance it has! i`ll try out your beautiful fragrant Cocktail!

Blossoms are really wonderful to use as ingredients and for garnish..


jerseeboy said...

G&T is my favorite summertime drink - the thought of a honeysuckle flavored G&T gets gets my mouth watering.
Good luck in the competition!

Chris "Rookie" Stanley said...

Cheers & Thanks guys!

Seo Mumbai said...

Loved your Mid-summer night's tonic recipe. Will definitely try it out over the weekend.
Super Recipes