The house that I grew up in faced west so that when the sun was setting the light would stream in through the front windows. That light would look different depending on the time of the year; a hot, fiery orange in the summer with a dark blue sky on top, and a colder, almost icy orange in winter that gave way to a steely blue-gray sky up above. I often thought that if someone teleported me to a different year and plopped me down on that living room couch (where I liked to take naps while my mom cooked dinner) I’d know just what month it was depending on how the room was filled with light. I wouldn’t even have to cheat and look at the trees across the street to see if they had their leaves or not. I’d just know.
As I was brainstorming for today’s cocktail, the third and final drink for Gorshin Trading Post this Friday night, I didn’t have a name in mind. I knew the first 2 ingredients that I wanted to use: definitely Bluecoat Gin because it’s gorgeous in both aroma and taste AND it’s distilled locally, and definitely Giffard Crème de Pamplemousse Rosé for it’s beautiful color and ethereal pink grapefruit flavor. From there I brought in Dolin Blanc, a slightly sweet vermouth. Now I was flirting with a Negroni of sorts, so I added just a small amount of Aperol to bring up the bitter side of the drink, and I made a rosemary vanilla simple syrup for balance, sweetness, and to complement the flavor of grapefruit. It took a bit of playing with the measurements, but once I had it right I was happy with the result. The juniper and coriander in the Bluecoat worked beautifully with the Pamplemousse and the rosemary vanilla syrup, and the aperol added just the right amount of bitterness, as well as a hint of deeper color. The Dolin Blanc has both citrus and herbal elements, so it created a bridge between all the other ingredients.
When I started photographing the drink, I realized that I was capturing the blue color of the bottle of Bluecoat and the orange of the Pamplemousse as they reflected together in the cocktail glass. The realization hit me right away: I felt like I was back in my parents’ house, looking at that certain combination of winter light, smelling my mom’s cooking, feeling very much at home. It was amazing. I originally wanted a grapefruit garnish here, but I chose hibiscus salt instead. It appears black when it first hits the drink (bare tree branches against the sky, if you will) and then it dissolves into pink streaks… very much like when the sun sets on a cold December day just before Christmas.
1½ oz Bluecoat gin
¾ oz Giffard Pamplemousse Rosé
¾ oz Dolin Blanc vemouth
¼ oz Aperol
¼ oz rosemary vanilla simple syrup*
Hibiscus salt for garnishing
Combine all the ingredients except the hibiscus salt in a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir using a long-handled bar spoon until very cold (about 45 seconds). Strain using a julep strainer and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the hibiscus salt and enjoy!
*To make the simple syrup, dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup boiling water until it is clear. Pour into a mason jar and add 1 vanilla bean split down the middle and one rosemary sprig. Seal the jar and let the ingredients steep. When it cools remove the vanilla bean and the rosemary. Store in the fridge. It’ll keep for about 3 weeks.