Fin de Siècle Cocktail

This Memorial Day weekend was very wet. It seems to be like this every year. The rain drizzles down the windows, the clouds make a fortress against the sun, and a slight breeze whistles past the windows--just enough to bring goose bumps to your arms. With weather like this, Tracy and I curl up under a blanket and put in a movie. This is some riveting spring weather! Seattle is famous for having cold and wet Memorial Day weekends. The city empties as its residents flock to other locales in the hope of finding that faint glimmer of summer that is still months away. With our cats nearby, three red Netflix envelopes newly arrived in the mail, and blankets at the ready, we fortified ourselves with this classic cocktail from the 1920s, the Fin de Siècle.

Fin de Siècle Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces English dry gin (Martin Miller's*)
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth (Punt e mes)
1/4 amer Boudreau
1 dash orange bitters (Regan's)

Stir in an ice-filled mixing glass
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

The aroma is full of orange notes and cucumber, provided by the Martin Miller's. Hints of juniper and clove round out the nose, though the sharp bitterness of the amer is also detectable. The flavor of bitter oranges and Martin Miller's inherent spiciness dominate the flavor profile. The finish, though, is full of the herbal complexity of the amer and the very different spiciness of the punt e mes. The faintest taste of cucumbers lingers after every sip. This is one hearty, full-bodied drink. It is dry with a hint of bitterness, and the spiciness of the punt e mes works well with the robust flavors of the gin, particularly the black pepper and cloves. I think that the boldness of the Miller's works especially well in this drink, as its strong flavors play well with the amer, bringing its a rich caramel flavors, and both are tempered, and enhanced, by the interplay of the punt e mes.

*Stevi Deter of Two at Most had the great idea of using Miller's gin in this cocktail, and what a great idea it was. My palate says thanks for the info.


Rhubarb Syrup: Old New York Cocktail

For our third drink to highlight the newly made rhubarb syrup, we tried the Old New York Cocktail. It was on the 2009 summer menu at Barrio in Tucson, Arizona, and I stumbled on the recipe on the Chanticleer Society's website. There are several recipes there that use rhubarb, some calling for raw rhubarb that will be muddled, which sounds interesting. Unfortunately, and fortunately, I have this syrup to use up and will save those recipes for later.

Old New York Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Bols genever
1 ounce dry vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 ounce rhubarb syrup
1 dash peach bitters

Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lime twist

The contrast of the vibrant green twist against the delicate pink creates a striking first impression. The lime oils dominate the aroma, though there is no mistaking the malty juniper of the genever. The ingredients of the cocktail as a whole smelled pleasantly of grapefruit. The initial taste was dominated by the peach bitters, which was not what I was expecting with the citrus aroma in my nose. This was a very pleasing surprise. The juniper of the genever creeps in soon after and provides a backdrop to the other flavors. A citrus-like flavor is also present, which we ascribed to the rhubarb, kind of tricking our mouths. The maltiness of the genever lingers, as well as the light flavor of the grapes of the vermouth. The finish was a little tart and dry in a very pleasing way. The drink had a nice sweetness to it, though it was not in any way cloying; the dry vermouth does a good job of balancing out the syrup. Tracy and I were both very enamored with this drink. It was tasty, balanced and well-crafted--by far our favorite of the rhubarb drinks.

Rhubarb Syrup: Chardon

I first saw our next drink, the Chardon, in a write up on the Class of 2010 Bar Stars in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 16. The article shines the spotlight on five outstanding bartenders in San Francisco. This drink is a creation of Jose Zepeda at RN74. The combination of rhubarb syrup with Cynar piqued my interest. Sometimes that is all that is necessary.


1 1/2 ounces gin (Hendricks) 
1/2 ounce Cynar
1/2 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce rhubarb syrup

Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker.
Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon twist

The aroma of this drink is full of the bright citrus flavor of the lemon and the cucumber flavors of the Hendricks. The most distinctive flavor on first taste is from the gin, which makes sense since it was so recognizable in the nose. The citrus then takes over. The drink is quite tart, though I am not sure if due completely to the lemon or if the rhubarb is also playing a part. I was quite surprised by the level of tartness as I figured the half ounce of lemon juice would be more than balanced by the three-quarters ounce of syrup with the sweetness of the Cynar in addition. If anything I would have guessed that the flavors might have wavered out of balance on the too-sweet side, but that is definitely not the case. Tracy pointed out that my lemon might have been extremely sour, and that definitely would be possible. The herbal flavors of the amaro come into play on the swallow, which is quite dry. There is a lingering flavor of dried fruits, an almost raisiny taste, though I am not quite sure what is making this occur. The texture of the drink is much richer than a conventional gin sour--unless you are using gomme syrup--and I have this feeling that the pectin from rhubarb might be the culprit. As the drink warms, the rhubarb becomes more apparent, though not overly so. All in all, this is a very fine pink gin sour. I think that the drink was a bit unbalanced in favor of tartness, but on a hot sunny day that might be just what is needed.