Friday Cocktails: The Spice Trade

The Spice Trade

The Spice Trade

Simple syrup infused with anise and cardamom adds depth and sweetness to this genever and persimmon cocktail from Manhattan restaurant The Breslin.Laura Sant

Not too long ago, a few of us slipped out of the SAVEUR office in the middle of the afternoon for a drink—very Mad Men, if the men in question were all ladies wearing lipstick. We landed at the Breslin, a British-inflected restaurant not too far from our office whose dark wood-paneled bar area was the perfect stage for a warming drink on a chilly day. I flirted with the idea of ordering a lighter drink to make my afternoon in front of the computer a little easier, but something stronger kept calling to me. The menu called it the Spice Trade: a heady combination of genever, vermouth, persimmon, star anise, and pressed lemon.

Genever, though popular in Europe, is one of those spirits you don't often see on a cocktail list in the states. I was given a big bottle a few months ago as a gift that I wasn't too sure what to do with. Dutch tradition calls for drinking it straight from a tulip-shaped glass alongside a beer, but there's no way I was going to get through the whole bottle in that fashion—so for inspiration, I've taken to ordering a genever cocktail whenever I see one on a menu. Through these taste-tests, I've learned that it's incredible for mixing. A precursor to gin, the juniper-infused spirit carries a malty, woodsy flavor that complements a whole range of cocktails.

So I went in for the Spice Trade, and was glad I did. The genever provided the perfect backbone for the rich, bright flavors of winter fruits and the herbaceous, exotic anise. It was the ideal drink for an afternoon pick-me-up, and it's my new favorite way to use genever.