Winter Gin Cocktails

Clear and clean in the dead of winter.

The Drink:  Winter Gin Cocktails

I drink mostly brown spirits at home, especially when it’s cold out. Recently, though, a bottle of gin was orphaned at my house after a dinner party, and it got me thinking about gin cocktails for winter. Between November and March you’re about as likely to see me drinking a classic gin martini as a you are to see me having a margarita mixed in my mouth in Cancún…I suppose it’s possible, but I can’t really imagine it happening. Something about the austere gin and vermouth combo, for me, requires warm weather to properly enjoy.

Fortunately, though, there are ways to mix gin that fit the need for something richer and more comforting to get us through until the sun returns. Below are recipes for two fine examples. The Alaska uses the herbal, honeyed sweetness of yellow Chartreuse to balance the dry, savory backbone of gin and the Martinez pairs gin with it’s old pal vermouth, but in this case it’s of the sweet variety.

A note on the maraschino: Maraschino liqueur has nothing to do with the preternaturally red, corn syrup-based embarrassments that end up Shirley Temples and unfortunate cocktails. It is a distinctive, delicious liqueur distilled from whole marasca cherries and their pits. Luxardo and Maraska are two excellent brands.

Alaska

  • 2 oz London dry gin
  • .75 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Stir, strain into a chilled glass, and garnish with a broad piece of lemon peel squeezed over the top of the drink.

Martinez

  • 2 oz London dry gin
  • .75 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • 1 tsp maraschino
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Stir, strain into a chilled glass, and garnish with a broad piece of orange peel squeezed over the top of the drink.

About our Bartender – Michael Bowers is the Head Bartender at the Modern Hotel and Bar in Boise, Idaho.  His patrons know him for the uncanny precision with which he tends his bar.  Michael’s cocktails have been noted by, among others, Food and Wine, Sunset Magazine, GQ, and the New York Times.  See more in The Drink archive.

Alaska CocktailAn Alaska using Plymouth, which is a little less dry than a standard London Dry gin (w/ apologies to the recipe).