On Friday night, Jeff and I celebrated five years of knowing each other with a trip to local gem Frances, which once again exceeded expectations: clams baked in cream, seared cod balanced against the bitter crunch of romanesco, midnight-black chocolate cake studded with pears. We'd been planning to grab a cocktail in the neighborhood beforehand, but, as Bowie once sang, it was cold, and it rained, so I felt like an actor. Honestly, I think we make better cocktails at home than anywhere I that I would want to walk on a rainy night anyway, so we mixed up a few aperitifs while we were peeling out of our wet biking gear and making ourselves presentable for dinner. Jeff, as always, went for a boulevardier, while I decided to put a kettle on the stove, knowing that any drink I was going to make at this point would require hot water in some capacity. I've been going through a Terroir gin phase recently, and having recently read an article about tempering gin with applejack, I wanted to see if I could do some sort of a warm riff on a Pink Lady with those ingredients--maybe sort a cross with a hot toddy.
I usually load my hot toddies with a Dutch trading vessel's worth of spices--eight inches of ginger root, a handful of cloves, a few sticks of cinammon, and some sichuan peppercorns for mouth-numbing good measure. They're delicious drinks, and they'll warm you up fast, but at the end of the day you really can't tell what kind of alcohol they're spiked with, be it bourbon, rye, cognac, or even hot buttery rum. Really, you could probably pour a fifth of Nyquil into one of my hot toddies and it'd taste about the same.
This time I decided to take more of a spirit-forward approach, dialing down the extra flavorings to only a pod of anise and a sprig of thyme, and accenting the drink with just a dash of honey and lemon. The bracing pine aroma of Terroir took on a totally different character while warm, and enveloped in the richness of applejack, it actually didn't seem too unusual for a warm drink. Comforting but not rustic, nutty yet slightly savory, this is one of my best drinks I've made in recent memory. Stuck on my eyes; what a surprise.
1 oz. Laird's bonded applejack
1 oz. St. George Terroir gin
0.5 oz. lemon juice, strained (about half a lemon)
0.5 oz. honey (about 1 tbsp)
a one-inch sprig of thyme
one star anise pod
4-5 oz. boiling water, plus extra to warm the glass
Fill a mug or sturdy glass with hot water and let it sit for 30 seconds to warm it. Pour out the hot water. Add the applejack, gin, lemon juice, honey, thyme, and star anise to the mug, then pour the 4-5 oz. boiling water over top. Stir, taste, and add a little more honey if necessary. Sip.