Ah, Vegas…Sin City. Disneyland for adults if you will, Vegas is all about the glitz, glamour, gambling and gluttony that we all secretly yearn for a peek at. Booze and gambling seem to be like peas and carrots so it’s befitting that it would find a way to grace these humble cyber pages at some point. That and it also plays host to the Night Club and Bar Show every year and I had the opportunity to attend this year thanks to fine folks who make Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin.
I was given the honor of being one of four finalists for UVBG Best Botanical Gin Contest that was hosted by 35 Maple Street and held at the trade show. While I unfortunately didn’t win, it was still a lot of fun to hang in Vegas for a few days and get to make my cocktail live at the show and meet some great and talented bartenders. Among the finalist were, of course, myself, Ginny Edwards from Boston (whom ultimately won), Kirsztina Lazar from San Francisco, and James McFadden from Babylon, NY.
Each of us had our own unique take on what we felt best fit the botanicals and herbs found in Uncle Val’s gin. My rendition was to take the brown, bitter, and stirred path and create a more complex and serious cocktail that showcased the earthy and herbaceous side of the gin, while allowing the cucumber and floral tones to play more of an undertone role. While my risky and unique play didn’t take home the trophy for me, it still was a pretty damn good cocktail.
My approach was to fuze the caraway and cumin spice from a small batch, American made Aquavit from North Shore, and cool it with the refreshing Uncle Val’s gin, then bring the bitter, wine notes of Punt e Mes and harmonize it all together with the sweet and herbaceous tones of Benedictine and citrus spice from the complex Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6. A bold play to be sure, and one that questions just how all these seemingly disparate ingredients would meld into one balanced drink? Well, just test one for yourself and decide. Cheers.
A Simple Quandary
1 oz Uncle Val’s Gin
1 oz North Shore Aquavit
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 or 2 Dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
Lemon Peel for Garnish
Stir ingredients over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish and enjoy