I’ve been hankering to pick up a bottle of genever for a while now, and finally pulled the trigger yesterday. Genever is a Dutch spirit (the word is Dutch for “juniper”), and you can probably figure out both from its name and its translation that it is a precursor to gin. While it was the English who created gin as we know it, they got the idea from this stuff. Genever, at least in its “oude” form, is usually aged in oak barrels, giving it more of the characteristic of whiskey than what we normally think of gin. (It also comes in an unaged “jonge” form, although technically the distinction between “oude” and “jonge” has to do with distillation technique, not aging.) Let’s say it sits sort of halfway between gin and whiskey.
Genever shows up occasionally in old bartending guides as “Holland Gin” – unfortunately those are rarely indexed and even when they are it’s usually only by drink name, not spirit type. So, to find something to use genever in without poring through countless pages, I turned to The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan. which includes 5 genever-based drinks. This was the only one I had the ingredients for on hand.
2 ounces genever
1 ounce kirschwasser
1/2 tsp. Demerara syrup (a rich 2:1 sugar syrup made with Demerara sugar, although mine is not technically – close enough)
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
It’s a lovely drink, quite the opposite of the previous entry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t taste as good. Kirsch is a cherry eau-de-vie, and has many of the same qualities of Maraschino liqueur – which is both a good and a bad thing. With this much Kirsch on board, it tends to take over, which it did here, and I really didn’t get a great feel for the genever itself. There’s a lot of alcohol burn, and some malty/smoky notes, but these are buried under the bitter cherry flavors of the kirsch. It wasn’t bad per se (although the wife thought it was) but neither did it shine. Three livers.