I have a new appreciation for gin. Shane Lumpp, Bar Manager, River and Rail Restaurant introduced us to the nuances of gin in his Cocktails 101 Class earlier this month. Here’s some fun facts about gin from class:
The word Gin comes from the word Genever which in Dutch means juniper. The English shortened it Geneva which lead to the term “Gin”.
Gin was first produced by the Dutch in Holland where the term “Dutch Courage” comes from. Dutch mercenaries hired out by the English would consume vast amounts of Gin which made them more aggressive in battle.
I usually prefer vodka in my martinis, but I found Plymouth Gin to be delightful in this River and Rail Martini. It was made with Plymouth Gin. Plymouth Gin is produced at a single distillery in Plymouth, England at the Blackfriars Distillery. It has somewhat more earthy flavors and typically not as juniper flavor. (That is probably why I liked it so much. I appreciate the juniper in Gin, but it is a bit “flowery” for my taste.)
Shane rubbed lemon peel around the rim of the martini glass and then he rubbed the peel on the stem of the glass. He explained that the scent of the lemon will adhere to your fingers. People naturally wave their fingers in front of their face when they are talking and having a good time so the lemon will permeate the air and enhance the lemony cocktail experience. Love this!
The River and Rail Martini is very simply gin, vermouth and orange bitters, with a lemon peel garnish. Shane explained that the garnishes he puts on cocktails always have a purpose, they are not just there for looks.
Shane explained to us that when olives are served in a martini they should have an odd number – one or three. Having an even number of garnishes in a cocktail is considered bad luck.
Shane invented the “Pink Panther” cocktail that is served at River and Rail. Broker’s Gin, Capalletti Aperitivo, Lillet Blanc, Lemon, Peychaud’s Bitters. Peychaud’s is a key ingredient in the Sazerac® Cocktail, with light notes of cherry, nutmeg, and clove.
We had fun asking Shane questions about the bitters that were lined up on the bar. One that was completely new to me was the ‘Elemakule Tiki” bitters. Here’s what Bitterman’s says about these bitters on its website: A taste of the islands. We recommend adding a dash to libations served in shrunken heads, volcanoes and miniature ceramic Moai. Cinnamon and Allspice with a strong cast of supporting spice flavors.
Shane said that they use the Hellfire Bitters (Habanero Shrub) in their Michelada Spicy Margarita and when a guest wants a spicy Bloody Mary.
Lillie’s Q Pimiento Cheese Potato Chips
Seriously GOOD kettle cooked potato chips. Jalapeno powder and paprika add a zesty zing to the pimiento cheese flavor in these chips. The Lillie’s Q chips are based on Lillie’s Q sauces and rubs: Carolina Dirt, Sea Salt and Black Pepper, Hot Pepper Vinegar, and Original. I found these at our local Fresh Market.
Here’s some fun chips that I found at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke, Virginia (also available on-line for a limited time). They do have a subtle lobster taste and here’s a link to a fun review of these chips from the Junk Food Guy:
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