Man of a Thousand Voices
2 oz Chesuncook Botanical Spirit (aka Carrot Gin)
3/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Kummel
Few Dashes Lemon Ginger bitters* <Hella Bitters>
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with carrot ribbon.
* Originally I used orange bitters, which would also work. It would make things a bit more citrusy and less spicy.
This past February Mrs. Muddle and I took a quick ski and snowboard trip to Sunday River in Maine. Usually we make it a weekend thing, but this year we left Thursday and headed back on Saturday. With the extra time afforded by this itinerary, we decided to extend the mini-vacay with a stop in Portland for some lunch and whatever beer/booze tastings we could find. The neighborhood we chose was home to Rising Tide Brewing Co and Maine Craft Distilling.
Rising Tide has some great beers, and we’ve had many of them before. We got a flight that included some new styles, and they were solid all the way through. However, the real treat was Maine Craft Distilling. I had seen some of their bottles on the shelves, but never had the chance to try any of them. Luckily they are not stingy with their products. Belly up to their small bar in the front of the distillery, and you are free to try any/all of their available spirits. Challenge accepted! They were even nice enough to give my oldest a glass of ginger beer so she could participate.
The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable, chatting and answering questions as we worked our way through their offerings. Knowing that a bottle purchase was eminent, we doubled back to the two bottles we had enjoyed the most. The Black Cap Barely Spirit tasted something like a cross between a vodka and a white whiskey. Distilled from single malt barley and filtered through maple soaked charcoal, it was a very interesting sip. The other bottle in the to-be-purchased taste-off was the Chesuncook Botanical Spirit. Crazy is really the best way to describe this stuff. In the simplest terms, it’s a gin made with carrots – yes, I said carrots – but that doesn’t really do it justice. Classic gin botanicals are present (juniper, coriander, etc), but there is a sweet-savory cloud enveloping everything thanks to the aforementioned carrots.
After some discussion, we realized the Chesuncook was too unique to pass up, and walked out with a bottle. As soon as I got in the car, my wheels were turning trying to figure out what to do with this strange orange elixir now in my possession. When we got home that night and put the girls to bed, I went straight to the bar. Soon caps littered the counter as I was sticking my nose in a bevy of bottles trying to figure out what to do with a booze that has as many flavors in common with soup as it does with gin. I wanted to make sure the Chesuncook was the star of the show, but it still needed some supporting players.
Eventually I turned to my copy of the Flavor Bible to see what flavors complimented carrots. Then I saw it, in bold captial letters…CUMIN. Normally that wouldn’t move the needle as there aren’t many spirits with a strong cumin flavor. Except for Kummel. And guess who recently picked up a bottle of this cumin liqueur? Countless times I’ve enjoyed carrots and cumin on a plate, and couldn’t wait to see what they would bring to a glass.
Further down the carrot page was orange. In keeping with the weird bottle theme, I first tried this drink with Rock and Rye. Hmm…maybe I had gotten a little too out there. The carrot flavor got a little muddied by the sweetness from the Rock and Rye and Kummel. Wanting to stay with an orange flavor, I opted for Cointreau the next time I made it. Now we’re talking. The straightforward floral orangey notes from this classic liqueur proved a wonderful facilitator, getting all the flavors in the drink to sing in harmony.
There is an undeniable earthiness on the nose, with carrots dominating. Just as I intended. Even with all the wacky flavors, this is still a spirit forward drink at the end of the day. A boozy warmth carries through the sip. Carrots again as well as a smoky organic taste from the Kummel. Cointreau pulls everything out of the garden just enough to brighten it up on the swallow. Lemon ginger bitters give a final pinch of spice in the finish.
The name of the drink is a nod to the carrotness of Chesuncook. Mel Blanc was the voice of known carrot lover Bugs Bunny. He also did the voices of various other looney toons stars, including Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the cat, Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy Gonzales…you get the point. Pretty much the entire roster. That easily earned him the nickname “Man of A Thousand Voices”. Hopefully he doesn’t mind sharing it with a cocktail.