Flavour Death Match
2 oz Genever [Bols]
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Drambuie
1/4 oz Averna
Few dashes Charred Cedar Bitters [Black Cloud Bitters]
Stir with ice in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
A few months ago I picked up the Black Cloud Bitters sampler from Muddle & Stir. There are five kinds in there, all wonderfully odd. Simply based on the labels, the Charred Cedar bitters excited and intrigued me the most.
First I had to get to know them, try them out in a comfortable environment. A few dashes in a Perfect Manhattan was a wonderful introduction. A drink I am intimately familiar with allows me to focus on the personality of these bitters. Smoky, woodsy, and a coniferous freshness After a few sips, I couldn’t help but think the charred cedar would pair amazingly with Green Chartreuse.
Since I went the safe route with the first drink, why not flip it around for the next one. Let’s see what other big flavors I could add to the already strong profile of the bitters. An amaro fits the bill, and I’ve really been into Averna lately. There are underlying roasty notes that I thought would pick up the charredness in the charred cedar. Even though Averna is on the less bitter side compared to its cousins, it’s still an amari and still has plenty of bite. As a counterpoint, I grabbed some Drambuie to smooth out the edges (of which there are now many) of this drink. Lastly the base spirit, something that could meld with all these flavors. A line straddler, a chameleon if you will. There was only one choice – genever. With one foot in the whiskey world and the other in gin, it could compete with everything going on in this glass.
The Flavour Death Match is aptly named, as the fight in the glass is apparent after one whiff. Herbs and pine are the first things detected, followed by the maltiness of the genever and Drambuie. The battle continues on the sip, more malts at first, then the bitterness of the amaro takes a few swings. The Chartreuse and charred bitters also keep things bright and fresh, never letting the full sweetness of the Drambuie break through. The swallow is gets a few more hits of woodsy char, ending on the smoothness of the genever and Drambuie.
A tip of the cap to my instagram buddy @dagreb. While experimenting with this drink I posted it, and he quickly won the best comment award, saying “Christ! That’s some sort of flavour death match”. I couldn’t resist stealing that saying (and his Canadian spelling) for a name. It perfectly captured what was going on with this drink, even if there is no clear winner in the end. Except of course you, the drinker.