EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Asparagus Gin: Some Vintage Spirits Should Probably Remain Forgotten

Not long ago David T. Smith of Summer Fruit Cup wrote a book entitled Forgotten Spirits & Long Lost Liqueurs that in part was a continuation of the work Ted Haigh put together in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. In Forgotten Spirits David describes a number of flavored gins that were popular in the early twentieth century such as apple gin, mint gin and even maple gin. However, asparagus gin caught my eye.

For two short years in San Francisco, CA the Folsom Asparagus Gin Company produced an asparagus compound gin from 1916-1918. The idea of this gin intrigued me and I figured since I live in San Francisco and I have access to fresh asparagus in season I decided to try my hand at replicating it.

I purchased one bunch of organic asparagus grown in California's Central Valley and 750ml bottle of Taaka Extra Dry Distilled London Dry Gin produced by Sazerac Co. in Frankfort, KY. On its own, Taaka was a surprisingly good classic gin for $9! I washed and cut the asparagus and put the fresh pieces in a 1.75L glass bottle and poured the gin on top. I let the maceration sit a room temperature for 24 hours in my liquor cabinet. After the 24 hours I strained the asparagus gin with a coffee filter to catch any particles and decanted the gin back into the Taaka bottle. 

In my mind the idea of asparagus gin seemed like it could work. I imagined the vegetal notes layering on top of the traditional gin botanicals and perhaps taking on a light green color. In reality it came out a bit different.

Tasting Notes

Color: In the bottle the color is a dark yellow but in the glass it lightens some and the color looks more like is a golden yellow somewhere between straw and honey.

Nose: The nose has a very strong aroma of fresh asparagus and a green note like chlorophyll.  There is also a pungent quality to it like wet grass that has been cut and left to decay in the hot sun. All of your typical gin aromas have disappeared. 

Palate: On the palate as you first take a sip there is the first hint of gin with a slightly warm and piney character. However, that is quickly swallowed up by a very strong vegetal flavor like the water after making steamed asparagus.

Finish: The finish is hauntingly long of over cooked asparagus and the faintest hints of juniper. 

Conclusion: On its own and in this concentration DIY asparagus gin was way too strong and not pleasant.

Experiments

I now know that one bunch of asparagus was way too much for one 750ml bottle of gin. So I decided to try cutting the concentration and see what happened. Since all of the gin notes disappeared, I decided to cut it with another gin rather than vodka.

Experiment #1: 1 part asparagus gin to 7 parts classic gin. The funky asparagus gin totally disappears on the nose and on the palate. However, the overcook asparagus note came through on the finish which kind of ruined the base gin.

Experiment #2: 1 part asparagus gin to 7 parts contemporary citrus forward gin. Once again the asparagus funk disappeared on the nose but it gave the gin a slightly more earthy body which wasn't bad. The finish also had a bit of the asparagus character and it didn't completely ruin the base gin. Neat the finish would probably be a bit off putting for most people. That being said, I could see this compound gin of asparagus and citrus forward gin working well in a dry martini with an olive or even a Red Snapper

Concluding Conclusion: In the end, asparagus in small quantities could be an interesting botanical to add into a larger gin recipe, however asparagus gin the way I made it and probably the way the Folsom Asparagus Gin Company made theirs is best to be forgotten.

Negroni Variations with Aged Gin

In preparation for the upcoming Negroni Week (June  5-11, 2017) I decided to create a few Negroni variations  with some of the gin in my liquor cabinet and see how the drink changed. The classic negroni is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. For these variations I used Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso, Campari and three different aged gins. 

Negroni #1: This was made using  FEW Spirits Barrel Gin (46.5% ABV) which is an aged gin distilled with an undisclosed number of botanicals which includes juniper, bitter orange and lemon peel, cassia and angelica. As a negroni the noise was woody, with fruity bubble gum notes. The Negroni tasted of sweet berries and orange with a strong whiskey character. The finish started sweet, dried out from the wood tannins and closed with notes of black pepper grapefruit zest, charcoal and menthol.

Negroni #2: This was made using High Wire Distilling Hat Trick Barrel Rested Gin (44% ABV) which is an aged gin distilled with crushed juniper berries, fresh lemon and orange peel. As a negroni, the sweet vermouth came through on nose with bright citrus from the Campari. The flavor was a dance of sweet spicy and bitter. The finish started strong with juniper and faded into bitter grapefruit and sweetness. Really nice.

Negroni #3: This was made using Old World Spirits Rusty Blade Single Barrel-Aged Gin (60% ABV) which is an aged gin distilled with 11 botanicals including cilantro, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, orange, lemon, tangerine and steamed juniper. As a negroni the nose had notes of sweet cherry and fresh orange. The cocktail tasted of maraschino cherry, sweet grapefruit, and mid palate spice notes of clove and cinnamon explode with slight bitterness. The finish was spicy dry and mildly bitter with notes of juniper and grapefruit zest.

Negroni Variations with Classic and Contemporary Gin

In preparation for the upcoming Negroni Week (June  5-11, 2017) I decided to create a few Negroni variations  with some of the gin in my liquor cabinet and see how the drink changed. The classic negroni is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. For my variations I used Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso, Campari and three different gins. 

Negroni #1: This was made using Bombay London Dry Gin (43% ABV) which is a classic gin vapor distilled with Juniper, Coriander, Liquorice Root, Almonds, Lemon Peel, Cassia Bark, Orris Root,  and Angelica. As a negroni, sweet and bitter  notes were well balanced but the gin got lost under the vermouth. It had lots of herbal complexity from the wormwood and citrus, with a nice juniper finish.

Negroni #2: This was made using St. George Spirits Botanivore Gin (45% ABV) which is a contemporary gin with juniper, bay laurel and fresh cilantro in a vapor basket and angelica, bergamot peel, black peppercorn, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, citra hops, coriander, dill seed, fennel seed, ginger, lemon peel, lime peel, orris root, Seville orange peel, and star anise macerated in the pot. As a negroni it had a strong citrus aroma on the nose, sweetness from vermouth was still very strong however the finish had a slight spicy character from the gin. Made with equal parts the negroni was slightly out of balance however, adding a touch more gin does the trick.

Negroni #3: This was made using The Spirits Guild Astral Pacific Gin (43% ABV)  which is a contemporary gin pot distilled with Juniper, coriander, angelica, cinnamon, grapefruit peel, clementine peel, orange tree leaves, pink peppercorn, pistachio, sage, and orris root in a neutral brandy made from clementines. As a negroni bright floral notes came through on the nose with a light fruity aroma almost like bubble gum. The flavors were well balanced between sweet and bitter with juniper and citrus coming through clear on the finish.