The American drinking public hasn't been particularly kind to that English import, damson gin.
A cousin to sloe gin, it is infused with its namesake, super-tart damson plums. And, as is the risk when sugar and booze collide, much of the distinctive spirit has been aligned with the worse kind of mixers, destined for a catalog of frat-party pours.
Luckily, damson gin's reputation has recently been refreshed in the minds of bartenders everywhere, thanks to Averell Damson Gin.
It started, appropriately, at a bar. Damon Boelte, bartender of Prime Meats in Brooklyn, put a bug in the ear of distiller Scott Krahn about the lack of damson gin on the market, despite its historic significance in such cocktails as the Fizz.
So Krahn began to recreate the maligned spirit himself. He uses the entire damson plum harvest from New York's Red Jacket Orchards, but deters from the six- to eight- month fruit maceration required in traditional English recipes. After barrel-pressing the fruit, he combines the juice and the skins with some of his own gin, the mildly flavored DH Krahn.
For the second batch, which was just released last month, the plums were harvested later in the season, offering richer fruit notes than last fall's inaugural batch. Try the new batch against the digestive properties of Underberg bitter liqueur in Boelte's Duck & Cover (see the recipe), or as it was originally imagined--as the base of a summer-friendly Fizz.
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