Published on May 22nd, 2013 | by Marysa0
Ode to Eau: The Fragile Balance Between Spring and Spirit
By Marysa Mitch & Adrienne Stillman
Water – we need it to survive, desperately so after a night of drinking one too many cocktails. However, water has its place in the spirit and cocktail world, besides just a morning after necessity. This is what guests attending the Dipsology-hosted event , Ode to Eau: The Fragile Balance Between Spring and Spirit, were able to experience first hand on Saturday. In the seminar, led by Andie Ferman of St. George Spirits and Lucinda Sterling of Middle Branch (which also served as the venue), 40 Manhattan Cocktail Classic attendees explored St. George’s Botanivore & Terroir Gins, Breaking & Entering Bourbon and Absinthe Verte neat, with water added, and in cocktails. We will never look at water the same way again.
The first component of the tasting was the part everyone was most familiar with – sipping the spirit neat. Andie Ferman started the group off with the Botanivore Gin, a lighter, herbaceous version. Guests smelled and sipped, noting which aromas and flavors stood out the most. Then, guests were asked to each add 5-7 drops of water to their gin. The spirit immediately reacted to the water, as oils previously suspended in the alcohol were released. The nose also changed as a result, becoming more pungent. This same process was then repeated with the St. George Terroir Gin, so named because the botanicals used evoke the local “terroir”, including Douglas fir, bay laurel & sage.
After experiencing the two very different gins on their own, Lucinda Sterling served two versions of the classic Negroni – one with Botanivore Gin and one with Terroir – to highlight how the different botanicals in each spirit interact with the flavors of the Campari and sweet vermouth. The Botanivore Negroni is a more classic rendition of the cocktail, but we also really enjoyed the Terroir, whose stronger flavors created a great depth & almost spiciness when combined with the bitter Campari.
Next up was St. George’s Breaking & Entering Bourbon, which gets its name from the escapades of Master Distiller Lance Winters and Distiller & Blender Dave Smith who traveled into the depths of Kentucky to source & bring back hundreds of barrels of bourbon. The same process of smelling, tasting, and adding water was repeated, and then guests were served the Boulevardier cocktail, which is a Negroni with bourbon instead of gin.
Finally, we tasted St. George’s Absinthe Verte, the first (legal) American-made absinthe to hit the market after the ban was lifted in 2007. Absinthe undergoes the most dramatic visual change when water and ice are introduced, changing from a clear greenish-brown to a cloudy yellow-green. The aromatic change is pronounced as well, owing to the spirit’s 60% ABV (compared to 43% for the bourbon and 45% for both gins). With such a high proof, many more botanicals & oils are released when water & ice are added.
All during the seminar, folks shared their thoughts on the tasting, tweeted their favorite moments and asked some great questions of the leading ladies. Andie and Lucinda were happy to share their wisdom. For example: did you know when when smelling so many different spirits, you need to reset your nose? One way to do that: take a whiff of the inside of your elbow. Apparently, you can’t smell yourself. Who knew? (For a more classic approach, take a sip of water, then take a bite of a table cracker & let it sit in your mouth until it tastes slightly sweet.)
After all the delicious spirits and cocktails guests were invited downstairs to continue the experience, with cupcake pairings by Prohibition Bakery. The talented ladies over there created three custom flavors for our group, including a Blood Orange Negroni with Botanivore Gin, an Old Fashioned with Breaking & Entering Bourbon (complete with boozy cherry on top), and the classic Sazerac with Absinthe Verte. The perfect way to finish off a boozy afternoon!
1 1/4 oz St. George Botanivore OR Terroir Gin
1 oz Campari
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass over ice, stir & strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Notes: The classic Negroni calls for 1 oz of each ingredient. Lucinda prefers this combination, with less vermouth, for a slightly less syrupy version.
1 oz St. George Breaking & Entering Bourbon
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass over ice, stir & strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube. No garnish.
Marysa is a freelance writer focusing on spirits, beer, and wine. She shares her love for all things food and drink related on her blog, limerence + liquor. You can also follow her on Twitter at @msmarysa.
Adrienne is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dipsology. When she’s not drinking, sleeping & breathing cocktails, she can probably be found in Napa, drinking wine instead. You can read about her non-cocktail adventures on her blog “à la gourmande” and follow her @alstillman.