Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beefeater 24 Hits the U.S.

Six long months after I first tasted Desmond Payne's new gin Beefeater 24, I've finally written about it. (Well, for print. I've written about it several times on this site.) Why the wait? Well, because I live in America and it took it that long to get here! Actually, at various points, it was suppose to debut March 1, then April 1. May 1 ended up being the money date.

Here's the piece I wrote about it for Time Out New York, as well as a new Beefeater 24 cocktail recipe provided by Joachin Simo over at Death & Co.

Holy juniper!

Englishman Desmond Payne has done nothing but make gin his entire adult life; first at Plymouth, where he helped resuscitate the reputation of that venerable spirit, and then at Beefeater, where he has been master distiller since 1994. So considering that—after 40 years of closely adhering to other people's botanical recipes—he has finally created a premium gin of his own, attention must be paid. Beefeater 24, which launches stateside this month, is the product of a year and a half of experimentation. An arch-traditionalist, Payne did not veer far from Beefeater's classic cocktail of nine botanicals, created by James Burrough in the 1860s. Payne added only three ingredients to the mix, but that trio makes all the difference. Spanish grapefruit peel complements the spirit's already strong citrus character. However, it's the inclusion of Chinese green and Japanese sencha teas that gives the spirit its distinctive personality, combining two defining English culinary traditions—gin and tea—in one elegantly perfumed product. Beefeater 24 (named for the number of hours the neutral spirit is steeped in the botanicals) makes for a particularly thought-provoking martini, with a noted tannic hit at the beginning and a remarkably long finish. And it adds a welcome new element to the often too-simplistic classic, the gin and tonic. If you're feeling more adventurous, a newly minted libation using the stuff can be found at Death & Company (433 E 6th St between First Ave and Ave A, 212-388-0882), where Joaquin Simo is serving the Kew Gardens Cooler (muddled cucumber, Aperol, grapefruit juice and tea-infused syrup). Only one question remains: Do we do teatime later, or cocktail hour earlier? A 750ml bottle is $30 at most liquor stores.—Robert Simonson

Kew Gardens Cooler
From Joaquin Simo of Death & Company

In a cocktail shaker, lightly muddle two thin cucumber slices. Add:
• 2 ounces Beefeater 24
• 1/2 ounce Aperol
• 3/4 ounces grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce Scarlet Glow syrup*

Shake briefly with 3 ice cubes to chill, then strain over crushed ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon (use a vegetable peeler to carve out a thin seedless slice of cucumber, then skewer it with a cocktail pick).

*Scarlet Glow syrup
Heat 1 cup water on the stovetop. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil, then add 4 to 5 tablespoons of Scarlet Glow tea (hibiscus and elderflower tea made by In Pursuit of Tea). Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to steep for 45-60 minutes, then strain the syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate. The recipe makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of syrup. It should keep in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 weeks.

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