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Photo: Clay Williams

Gin is a spirit that is rooted in spice, with, naturally, juniper being the main focus. However, many popular gin cocktails seem to take the focus away from the botanical nature of this spirit, and instead focus on the citrus and sweeteners. For a recent dinner party event focusing on spice recipes, I aimed to create a stirred gin cocktail that would feature the spirit prominently, but would still be accessible to everyone in the room. The idea of infusing with saffron came to mind — and while it is certainly not a new concept (dating back to the 19th century), many people today would expect Saffron to appear in their risotto, rather than their drink. 

To make it a cocktail for a recent Midnight Brunch dining event, I needed to include something sweet and a lemon-cardamom syrup (inspired by the Nehru cocktail created by Scott Holliday at the Rendezvous Bar in Boston) sounded excellent, in addition to a small amount of Maraschino cherry liqueur. Adding Peychaud’s bitters and oils from an orange twist seemed to tie everything together.

When presented in rocks glass, suddenly this dry gin-based cocktail starts to drink like an Old Fashioned, something most people can appreciate. The color may be off-putting at first, but the unique flavors certainly draws one in. I am sure experimenting with other spice combinations for a sweetening syrup, playing off the natural botanicals found in gin, such as coriander, cloves, cinnamon, anise, almond, black pepper, etc…could also be delicious.