Low-Proof February? Yeah gurrrrrl.

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Alright y’alllllllll. Hot on the heels of Tiki The Snow Away comes my newest obsession: “Low-Proof February.” I think this is funny cause Tiki The Snow Away was my visceral reaction to the incredibly heavy and rich drinks we have during december (I’m looking at you Egg Nog!) and now Low-Proof February is my reaction to having so many overproof Rums in Tiki drinks. Ahhhh, it’s a silly world we live in.

So, y’all probably have questions. Questions like, “why are there so many bottles of fortified wine n such on your table gurrrrrl?” I’ll answer you with another question: What has an ABV lower than 20% and still has tons of flavor? Fortified wine, that’s what.

The goal of Low-Proof February is to use all of the things you have in the Aperitif & Digestif category as the main ingredients and to use Spirits as modifiers. Think of it as making inverted cocktails. For example: You’re could to use 2 oz of Vermouth and maybe just 1/2 an ounce of Brandy.

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Here’s a really good example of what I’m talking about. This drink is still very satisfying because Atxa Vermouth Amurrio is herbaceous, fruity, wonderful in a spritz, and a good Armagnac has tons of flavor even when used in small amounts.

Grandma’s Spritz

  • 2 oz Atxa Amurrio Vino Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Chateau de Laubade VSOP Bas Armagnac
  • Soda Water
  • Garnish: Lemon Wheel

Combine ingredients in double rocks glass, add ice, top with Soda water, and garnish.

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Here’s another example that I made while at work at Duke’s Liquor Box. It’s a take on an Americano (Campari, Vermouth, Soda Water) where I used the brand-new-made-in-Brooklyn Forthave Spirits RED Aperitivo in place of Campari and Cocchi Rosa in place of Vermouth.

The Red Rosa

  • 1 1/2 oz Forthave Spirits Red Aperitivo
  • 1 1/2 oz Cocchi Rosa Aperitivo
  • Soda Water
  • Garnish: Orange wedge

Combine ingredients in double rocks glass, add ice, stir briefly, and garnish.

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Here is some inspiration for other low-proof ingredients: Tawny Port, Amontillado Sherry, and War + Rust (a Quinquina made in the USA and fairly similar to Byrrh Aperitif).

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Now for those of you who are like, “Girrrrrrl, I can’t handle only drinking Aperitivi/Digestivi for a month”, you could make yourself a Highball with Japanese Whisky or some other kind of light and wonderful Whisky.

Akashi White Oak Highball

  • 1 1/2 oz Akashi White Oak Japanese Whisky
  • 7 drops Scrappy’s Celery Bitters
  • Soda Water
  • No garnish

The instructions for how to make a proper Japanese Highball are somewhat complicated because in Japan, cocktail making is treated more like a tea ceremony. I do not purport to be an expert on how to make a proper Japanese Highball but here is roughly how to do it:

  1. Use a chilled glass and carefully add ice so it stacks properly
  2.  Pour 1 1/2 oz Japanese Whisky down the side of the glass, making sure not to get any Whisky on the top of the ice.
  3. Pour Soda water down the side of the glass, again making sure not to get any on the top of the ice, until there is approximately 1/4″ space left at the top of the glass.
  4. Put a long barspoon down the side of the glass and swizzle until you have combined the ingredients and created a bit of a frothy head at the top of the glass.
  5. Serve immediately with a straw.

In the case of this particular Highball, I’d recommend adding the bitters before adding the soda water.

Well that’s it! May your Low-Proof February be satisfying and creatively inspiring! I’ll be posting most of my recipes on Instagram, feel free to follow along there.

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You’re So Kind: Berentzen Pear Liqueur

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As I’ve stated before, the very kind people at Berentzen sent me a fabulous bottle of Pear Liqueur. Aren’t they kind? I think they’re pretty kind. YOU’RE SO KIND BERENTZEN!

This Liqueur is a total knockout. I love it. It’s so fruit forward, crisp and refreshing. Pear all the way but in a totally different universe than many other Pear Liqueurs. This is not dry, subtle or mysterious. It’s PEAR! It’s happening! It’s fresh! I love it. I been using it with Gin, Tequila, Dolin Blanc, Soda, Tonic, Bourbon, Rum, EVERYTHING! Berentzen Pear Liqueur is awesome!

Bonus: now that it’s winter times, #PEARSEASON! Get into it!

And now, for the cocktails:

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Portrait of a Lady

  • 2 oz Smooth Gin (Plymouth used here)
  • 1 oz Berentzen Pear Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • Cinnamon Garnish

In tin, combine Gin, Pear Liqueur, Dry Vermouth and Lemon Juice over ice and shake. Double strain into coupe and garnish with Cinnamon.

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A Long Hard Look In The Mirror

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Cocktail Crate Spiced Old Fashioned Mixer or Allspice and Cinnamon Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Berentzen Pear Liqueur
  • 1 dash Black Walnut Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherry

In tin, combine Bourbon, Spiced Old Fashioned Mixer, Pear Liqueur and Bitters over cracked ice. Stir and strain into Rocks glass. Add Ice and Cherry.

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The Feeling of Flight

  • 2 oz Dolin Blanc or Lillet Blanc
  • 3/4 oz Berentzen Pear Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
  • Grapefruit peel

In tin, combine Blanc Vermouth, Pear Liqueur and Grapefruit Juice over ice and shake. Double strain into coupe, express Grapefruit peel and garnish.

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Sandals in Winter

  • 1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila
  • 3/4 oz Berentzen Pear Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau Triple Sec
  • 1/4 oz Bonal Aperitif
  • 1 dropper Elemakule Tiki Bitters
  • Grapefruit peel

In tin, combine Blanco Tequila, Pear Liqueur, Triple Sec, Bonal and Bitters over ice and shake. Double strain into coupe, express Grapefruit peel and garnish.

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Woo, this Liqueur is all worn out and taking a nap now. So many uses, so many possibilities. This has been You’re So Kind, the post where someone nice gives me a bottle and I review it!

The Terroir Martini

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I know we’ve talked about St. George Spirits but have we specifically talked about their Terroir Gin? This is the Gin that started it all. The Gin that got me hooked on Gin. The Gin that made me sob for 30 minutes in my Brooklyn apartment. You see, this Gin, THIS GIN, is from Marin, the Mt Tamalpias Gin. The botanicals in the Gin were selected on Mt Tam and when you open this bottle of Gin, you actually SMELL Marin County, California.

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Mt Tamalpias, Marin County. Photo via Summit Post. Don’t you just want to die? I do. Prettttttty.

For me, it was just too much. Just too TOO much. I’d spent over 10 years living somewhere that wasn’t Marin County, California and smelling those smells brought my entire childhood back to me. I saw myself walking in the hills, going to Stinson Beach, running cross country, hiking, riding bicycles, going to high school, the whole thing.

I smelled the Eucalyptus, Bay Laurel, Sage, Pine, Grasses, Sunshine, Ocean air. And I cried. I’ve never cried after opening a bottle of Napa Valley or Calistoga Wine before, but I started crying as soon as I smelled this Gin.

Therefore, I consider St George Terroir to be sacred and as a sacred spirit, I add little to it. Often I drink it neat or on the rocks. Sometimes I have it as a Fizz with Mint Simple Syrup and Lime juice. On even rarer occasions, I make it into this martini.

It is the greatest and most complex Gin that I’ve ever tasted and with absolute reverence I present to you:

The Terroir Martini

  • 2 1/2 oz St. George Terroir Gin
  • 1/2 oz Pear Eau de Vie (a dry Pear Eau de Vie is best)
  • 1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • Basil leaf garnish

In tin, combine Terroir Gin, Pear Eau de Vie and Dolin Dry over cracked ice and stir. Strain into chilled coupe, slap basil leaf between your hands and use as garnish.

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