Hey friends! I have been up to a lot over the past year and this blog has unfortunately fallen by the wayside. But, now that I’ve had some more time over the summer, Rad Cat Lady is back this time with my own domain name and lots of cool things coming down the line. Let’s drink some gin cocktails.
At the beginning of last month I moved from a studio to a one bedroom, and my biggest deal breaker when looking for a new place was that I desperately needed a dishwasher. Now that my kitchen is no longer a place I avoid because it is so full of old dishes, I have been having fun with cooking and making cocktails at my cute little bar cart way more often that I used to.
My love of gin has seriously deepened since I discovered my favorite St. Louis bar, The Gin Room, inside Cafe Natasha on South Grand. Owner Natasha and her bartending staff are gin geniuses, and every time I’m at the bar I end up drinking something new and amazing that I wouldn’t have known to ask for.
Back in May I also went to the Gin World St. Louis Gin Festival, held outside right next to The Gin Room, and tasted (probably too many) new and new-to-me craft gins that I am already obsessed with.
So when the weather got more and more oppressive and I was getting excited about micro scale home bartending again, naturally I went out in search of some great gin cocktails that I could make. Gin is so refreshing and delightful for summer and I quickly found some new favorites.
Though I am generally one to avoid Reddit, /r/cocktails has been a surprisingly interesting and friendly resource for drink ideas and quickly led me to the kickass craft cocktail database Kindred Cocktails. Since then I have been playing with new ingredients, recipes, and my own variations.
First up: a variation of the Fireworks cocktail, originally created and posted by a Kindred Cocktails user.
G&Ts, light and refreshing as they are, taste amazing for summer, but I was getting bored of them so the Fireworks, ultimately a jazzed up gin and tonic, was an amazing alternative.
Here’s the recipe I used, somewhat different from the original:
- 2 oz Leopold’s Summer Gin
- 1 tsp grenadine (I made mine at home, it’s delicious and I’m obnoxious)
- 3 ds 1821 Japanese chili and lime bitters
- top with Fevertree bitter lemon tonic
Shake everything except the tonic with ice, strain over ice in a highball glass, add the tonic on top, and stir to incorporate everything (I used my straw).
The kick of spice made the citrus flavors really shine, and I was shocked at how delicious (and different than the stuff that’s basically red corn syrup) homemade grenadine is. This interrupted my G&T rut without being too complicated or different from what I was already making.
Next, I started experimenting with variations of my absolute favorite cocktail the Aviation. I feel like kind of an asshole making Aviations alone at home because, like, who does that, but they’re too tasty to skip out on.
The first variation I made (and loved) was Rafa García Felbes’ Grey Lady. The recipe reduces the maraschino and creme de violette funk of a classic Aviation and ends up halfway between it and a martini.
- 2 oz Greyling gin
- 3/4 oz dry vermouth
- 1 t maraschino liquer
- 2 ds orange bitters
- rinse of crème de violette
- garnish of lemon peel
Rinse your cocktail glass with crème de violette, shake everything else but the lemon peel, strain into rinsed glass, garnish with lemon peel.
Although this isn’t really any less involved or alcoholic as an Aviation, I have loved it on nights when I want something a little more toned down in flavor. If you like martinis and are afraid of the Aviation, this might be a good baby step (though realistically you probably don’t have maraschino and crème de violette sitting around if you aren’t already an Aviation fan).
My only disappointment with this drink is that it is only very slightly purple.
Finally, the strawberry shrub gimlet.
Along with making my own grenadine (easy), I delved into the world of homemade shrub syrups (even easier). Using the SeriousEats cold process method, I made a strawberry and apple cider vinegar shrub that I am loving.
First I tried it added to club soda to get a sense of how it tasted on its own, which makes an amazing soft drink. Then I added it to a gimlet, and the shrub, as most things are, was even better with gin.
- 2 oz Nolet’s Silver gin
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz strawberry shrub syrup
- top with club soda
As you’ve guessed: shake everything but the soda with ice, strain into a highball glass over ice, top with the club soda, and stir.
Some gimlet lovers are adamant about the use of only lime cordial, not fresh lime juice, and a recipe of only gin and lime, but the soda lightens up the drink and balances the vinegar and citrus. This has been another really great breezy alternative to a gin and tonic when I want something a little more exciting.
All of these drinks are pretty easy to make with only a little cocktail knowledge and a few home bar supplies, and have been keeping me very happy on hot nights when something summery and cold makes the weather a little more bearable.
If you want to keep in touch, next month I’m starting a (hopefully) bi-weekly newsletter of tidbits that aren’t involved enough for a whole post, pieces I’ve written, and mini-reviews of what I’ve been up to lately.
What are your favorite gin cocktails?