You may not be aware (knowing you, you probably are), but this is the last Friday of Spring, 2023 – the first day of Summer being next Wednesday, the 21st. So, Spring (initial-capping here to give it some personalizing, dontcha know) today is at the end of its tether, so to speak, which means it’s the ideal day for this drink. Which was originally named after a book by Margery Allingham, but which I believe shouldn’t be relegated to only being sipped when writing posts around books. Not that books aren’t dreamy dreams (my favorite things are books, after a few other more favorite things), but this dandy combination of gin, amari, and grenadine is such a sprightly, amiable combination, that it should be had more often – unless you’re reading books all the time, which I, now that I think about it, am, then you’d be having it more. But I digress. You should go with a nice, London-style gin – I’m with reliable and reliably yummy Boodles here – and the amari should be if you can get it, Amaro di Toscana (which has a wild boar on the bottle), which is a well-balanced member of the family, meaning between bitter and sweet, rich in herbally flavor though lighter in syrup-i-ness than some on the tongue, and made from 27 herbs and spices growing in Tuscany. The final ingredient, the grenadine, you should make yourself, because it’s better than storebought and I expect better from you. A homemade grenadine recipe to assist you can be found at the end of the As Luck Would Have It recipe. The one funny thing about the name? It’s sounds like having one would be the last drink. The end of the tether and all. But my guess is you’ll want at least two of these. So, you know, don’t be completely literal.
This is one of those drinks that when you look at the ingredient list your first thought is probably, “whaaaaa?” as the four fine products used here don’t necessarily seem to match in that first moment. Partially cause anisette, even the so-good-it’s-hard-to-put-into-words Meletti anisette, can be such a strong personality that it may not seem a match with, say, Lillet’s delicate wine-aperitif tones. And maybe not even a match with a staunch British gin such as Boodles, our heaviest player here (in ounces!), made of British wheat and leaning classically towards juniper, coriander, angelica. By the by, I love all three of those ingredients, and you probably do, too, so maybe I’m making too much of the “odd trio” angle, but hey, they didn’t at first take to each other as well as I’d hoped. Until adding the robust Peychaud’s Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters, which somehow (bitters does tend to make it better), brought every other ingredient into the playing field nicely for me. After a little testing of amounts and some ritual incantations and normal stuffs like that. Short story: trust me! This is a good cocktail.
Boodles and Dolin sound a smidge like they could be an old Vaudevillian comedy duo, with the spinning ties, just-about-bawdy bawdiness, and maybe even a seltzer dispenser for a wet-faced final guffaw. The latter of course would be out of place today, as I decided that I needed to keep it about as canonical as you can (or close, I suppose), after having an assortment of high-faluting liquid creations lately. I don’t consume a wheelbarrowful of Martinis, but once in a while I get the urge, and when urge-ing go with a ratio that all should (that’s what really old drinkers would tell us – like, say, 90ish), 2-1/2 to 1/2, stirred (screw off Bond), and go with a lemon, because lemons are fruits of the gods and olives aren’t. Feel free to seltzer me in the face, but not until I finish this drink. Actually, not until I finish the next drink. I surely deserve two.
Earlier in this blog’s lifetime, I had a Cocktail Talk post quoting (as they do) from the Margery Allingham book Tether’s End, and in said post I mentioned that I thought that title would be a good name for a drink. And I was right! And this is that drink. Not cause this drink is an “end” of anything (though it like all drinks will have an ending sip), but just cause I thought the name was neat. But when making up a drink to match the name, I did want to at least align with the source in a manner or two, so I started with gin, it being an English favorite and all (and I went with Boodles, an English gin, naturally). For the next step, I browsed the liquor-shelves-of-doom, and decided to use (symbolically, and to add a delightful randomness) the very last bottle currently on the very top shelf – the end of one’s tether is often a time when you feel you’re at the very edge of a very high ledge. Lucky (and this was random) that bottle was Amaro di Toscana, an amaro now available over here stateside (when I first had it, years back, in Italy, and when I first brought a bottle back, it wasn’t). To add a final homage into the drink, I wanted something sort-of tethering – by that, meaning, an anchor, as a “tether” can be a cord (or cord-like item) that anchors one to a fixed object. So, as you might guess, I went with homemade grenadine, tethering everything to my own home. Isn’t that lovely? Well, if you don’t agree, you will agree the drink itself is lovely, I’ll bet. Try it, and see.
Recently, as sometimes happens (don’t be jealous!), a bottle showed up in the mail. This time, it was Boodles gin (thanks Boodles!) and I couldn’t have been happier. I’d had Boodles here and there, but not at home (well, unless I’m remembering poorly and it was long long ago, and I’m not that old, really). Boodles is a very proper British gin – a variety of spirit I’m quiet fond of – made from British wheat, with a number of botanicals and herbs (though, a bit unlike a fair share of modern gins, no citrus). As you might expect, it’s dandy in Martinis and the more traditional gin drinks.
But hey, if you’ve read this blog before (and if you haven’t, where have you been, friend), you know I tend on occasion to want to push the envelope so to speak, see if I can create a drink that isn’t necessarily along the lines you might think, or which uses ingredients that at first glance make one say, “what?” An Elusive Memory, a Boodles-based cocktail I made up recently, sorta falls into that category. But darn, the end result is so dreamy. It’s just that Meletti anisette (the finest anisette, in my opinion) doesn’t necessarily seem like it’d go with Boodles at first, and especially Lillet (another key ingredient). Then I brought the new-ish Whiskey Barrel Aged Peychaud’s bitters in, and . . . not an expected “umm,” but a welcome “ah-ha!” It took a big of finagling, but trust me, folks, this is a tasty, layered, mixture that plays nice.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More