The Cherry Blossom Cocktail
Exploring genever, and why it's not gin
The name genever (pronounced "jen-eee-vur") is thankfully something we'll be hearing a lot more of soon. However, despite its similarity to gin (with the presence of juniper), understanding genever and finding the best cocktails to create with it is not yet widely understood.
The dry and citrus-accented style of gin that most of us know well today is really a British invention, derived through history from the Dutch's genever aqua-vitae (or juniper water), originally created as a necessary health remedy. The British grew a thrist for genever in the 17th Century and then distilled it domestically for their own enjoyment, shortening the name simply to gin.
Despite the proliferation of the London dry gin style through the years, the original Dutch genever has remained true to its original character, made from a pot-distilled and long-fermented grain mixture called "maltwine", combined with neutral grain and botanical distillates. (More on the qualities of Genever can be found via this informational post).
Of course, the biggest case for genever not being gin is its taste. Some might find its smoothness whiskey-like. And while one might rarely drink gin on its own (even though some more or less request their martinis sans vermouth these days), the rich, malty flavor of Genever lends it well to being sipped chilled and neat. Cocktails such as the Improved Genever or a Death in the Gulf Stream (or the Hemingway Reviver) serve this spirit well, but one of the best original Genever cocktails I've had recently is the Cherry Blossom, from bartender Christopher Flannery-McCoy at Brooklyn's Maison Premiere (though it is not currently a menu option). Complex, cherry-tinged, and a delightful way to frame its genever base, I'm eager to make this spirit my new go-to bartender's choice, hopefully to find more original drinks being created.
- Combine ingredients in a chilled mixing glass and stir with ice for 15 seconds.
- Strain into chilled coupe and serve. Garnish with a brandied cherry.