It’s August, and in the little patch of suburban Maryland that I call home, the heat and humidity are almost unbearable. After a long, sweaty day at the office, there is almost nothing I enjoy more than a cool, refreshing cocktail.
While in the winter I prefer to make whisky and brandy cocktails, in the summer gin is the only spirit for me. While brandy and whisky feel warming, gin (at least to me) feels ever so refreshing. This summer my lovingly honed repertoire of gin cocktails has been expanded by a relatively new, unique (and kosher) gin that has been keeping my internal mad mixologist busy. The gin in question is Luxardo’s Sour Cherry gin.
Luxardo produces this gin by macerating sour Marasca cherries in a London dry gin. Unlike in sloe gin, no sugar is added, and as the Marasca cherries are not terribly sweet, the result is not a liqueur, but a cardinal-red gin with a bright cherry flavor that plays well against the juniper-rich botanicals.
For the past few months, I’ve been playing around with substituting London dry gin with sour cherry gin in some favorite cocktail recipes. I’ve found that the sour cherry gin seems to work best in citrusy cocktails—I was not, for instance, a fan of the sour cherry gin martini. Below are recipes for my two favorite sour cherry gin cocktails, to date.
The East Bago Cocktail
This potation was inspired by two well-known cocktails, the Pegu Club cocktail, which a century ago had been the house drink at the British club in Pegu, Bruma (known today as Bago, Myanmar) and the East Side cocktail, which was invented by George Delgado in 2004 at the New York City bar Libation. The East Bago pairs the cherry gin with cucumber, mint, and citrus in a unique cocktail that is both complex, and ever so refreshing.
- ¼ cup of Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin
- 2 tbsp. of Cointreau
- 1 tbsp. of freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ of a lime)
- 2 sprigs of mint
- 2 slices of an English cucumber cut at an angle
- 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
1. Place one sprig of mint and one cucumber slice in a tumbler.
2. Add the lime juice and muddle the mint and cucumber well. (If you don’t own a muddler, the handle of a wooden spoon will work in a pinch.)
3. Add the remaining liquid ingredients and add enough ice cubes to mostly fill the tumbler.
4. Stir well, and garnish with the remaining cucumber slice and mint sprig.
The Italian Sunset Cocktail
This drink is based on the Aviation Cocktail, an early 20th-century cocktail that celebrated the then new science of aviation. The original recipe for the Aviation was composed of gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur and Crème Yvette (a violet-colored liqueur) and had a sky-blue color, like the color an aviator would see from his cockpit. As time went on the Crème Yvette disappeared from recipes, and it became a simple, but glorious, three-ingredient drink. In the Italian Sunset I merely substituted sour cherry gin for the London dry gin in cocktail historian David Wondrich’s Aviation recipe. The cherry plays against the lemon in a manner I find ever so enjoyable.
- ¼ cup of Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin
- 1½ tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ of a lemon)
- 2 tsp. of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- Lemon peel twist as garnish (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail glass or coupe with ice water in order to chill the glass.
2. Add the liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake well.
3. Pour out the ice water and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass.
4. Garnish with a strip of lemon peel.
Note that while gin cocktails may feel refreshing, like all alcohol, gin is actually dehydrating. So be sure to consume alcoholic drinks with plenty of water.
Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin is still relatively new to the market, and not well distributed. You may have to special-order it. Expect to pay about $35 for a bottle.
Luxardo’s Sour Cherry Gin and Maraschino Liqueur are both produced under the supervision of the London Beth Din. Angostura bitters are produced under the supervision of the Orthodox Union. Cointreau is considered kosher without supervision by the Star-K and the Chicago Rabbinical Council.
By Gamliel Kronemer