I recently discovered that I enjoy gin. This budding friendship happened to coincide with the day I realized I ran out of vodka, whisky, and wine… but I think it’s significant nonetheless. We weren’t always a good pair, Gin and I, if I can recall several younger experiences with the stuff, except I can’t, so just trust me.
Inspired by this discovery, and maybe a long day at work (more this), I headed to the kitchen to see what I could mix together. Last year, I helped taste-test the Sotto Chinotto, a cocktail first published in Saveur magazine, for a post on The Couch Sessions. The drink – a combination of gin, lime juice, chinotto Italian soda, basil and sweet sparkling wine – was so perfect it became the go-to drink of the summer. It was sophisticated, refreshing, and the best part was I didn’t mind the gin at all.
This Gin + Citrus juice + Sparkling wine/soda + Herb combination had me thinking that would be a good place to start. I’m pretty sure tarragon should be in everything, so I chopped up some fresh leaves, and for citrus juice, I added lemon and orange. Pellegrino makes an addictive blood-orange soda, so in that went as well. I also threw in a half ounce of triple sec because I now possess a liter of the stuff after Cinco de Mayo and YOLO.
The formula worked, almost too well: I drank that combination down so fast that gin and I almost became frenemies again. The tarragon helped soften the sharp flavor of juniper berries (where gin gets its unique taste), and the blood orange soda gave it a sweet, bubbly boost. I’ll definitely be drinking a lot of this over the summer, but I’m already thinking about alterations, too: a bitter component would balance the sweetness better, and I want to try infusing tarragon into the gin. If I have any left. To be continued…
Sunset 303 (Makes 1 drink)
Ingredients: *Note: 1 oz. is about 2 tablespoons
Half a lemon, juiced
Half an orange, juiced
A few sprigs of tarragon
2 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
Blood orange soda
Finely chop a dozen or so tarragon leaves. Combine leaves with 1 oz. lemon juice, 1 oz. orange juice, 2 oz. gin and 1/2 oz. triple sec with ice in something you can shake up. Pour mixture into glass over ice, top with blood orange soda, serve.