Bells and Whistles
1 1/2 oz Gin [Bully Boy]
1/2 oz Batavia Arrack [Van Oosten]
1/2 oz Blanc Vermouth [Dolin]
1/2 oz Earl Grey Tea Syrup
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
I didn’t have anything specific to post about this week, so I decided it’s time I write about one of the weirder bottles in my bar. Batavia Arrack is one of those quintessential capital-B “Bar” bottles. Normally you’d find this in drinks you had while out at a bar. It’s interesting and enjoyable in that setting but you can’t seem to convince yourself to bring a bottle home.
Sometimes you just need a catalyst to pull the trigger though. For me, it was when I decided to make Billy Dawson’s Milk Punch this past NYE (that is a whole post in itself). To make this concoction, I needed the Batavia Arrack. Of course I probably used only an a few ounces at most, but now that it was in my possession, I decided to start experimenting.
Batavia Arrack is an odd bird. It’s made from molasses and rice, so it has some of that rum funkiness but also a malty backbone to support everything. Almost like if rhum agricole, sake, and whiskey had a baby. It can be tricky to use, so that’s why I called in some other unique flavors.
The Earl Grey Tea syrup has been one of my favorite DIY ventures. Super simple, all you need to do is make some strong tea, add an equal amount (by weight) of sugar, and heat until it’s dissolved. The result is sweet, floral, a little funky, and very flavorful. Then there’s Blanc Vermouth, which wraps the sweet and dry personalities of its cousins in cozy vanilla tones.
The Bells and Whistles is sweet and rich on the nose. Floral notes from the gin and tea syrup are present, with a hint of caramel from the sugar and molasses. The sip has a fortifying effect, followed by the tea and batavia arrack combining for an enjoyable touch of funk. Blanc vermouth bridges the botanicals and sweetness from the rest of the components. Overall the mouthfeel is very silky. You could almost be fooled into thinking it’s not a gin drink, thanks to that underlying maltiness in the Batavia Arrack. Finally a smooth finish gives way to one last shot of dryness.
As it happened, we also had to buy a new car this weekend. The one we ended up with had all the creature comforts of a sunfroof, bluetooth, blind spot detection, heated seats and all that stuff. Or, as the salesman put it, it came with all the bells and whistles. My ears perked up at this term and I decided to steal it for the name of this drink.
The Bells and Whistles gives me hope that there are many more opportunities ahead to get creative with Batavia Arrack. My guess is it will get along with just about any base spirit, and maybe even serve as one itself. I can’t wait to try and pull out all the facets hiding in this bottle.