Elderflower Smash

A couple of really warm days and I might have gotten a little too excited about putting away the snow boots and bringing out short sleeved shirts.  I would argue that, in my house, when transitioning wardrobes for three kids and myself, some forethought and coordination is required.  Still, like many others, I might have jumped the gun with allowing myself to have those thoughts in mid-March.  The calendar says “spring”, but, especially in New England, that doesn’t mean a darn thing…and, indeed, snow or threats of snow can come even into the middle of April.

And, once you start to “Think Spring”, it sort of invades every bit of living.  It certainly trickled into my cocktail-making inspiration.  I SO enjoyed experimenting with St. Germain last spring that the warmer weather and visions of crocuses and daffodils made me want to make something new.  And, this recipe was just thing to go with my mood.

Ingredients: 4-5 fresh mint leaves, 2 oz. gin, 1 ½ oz. elderflower liqueur, 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3 dashes bitters (Peychaud’s)

Directions: Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously and pour into a double old-fashioned glass.  (If you opt to strain in order to keep out the smaller bits of mint, add fresh ice and mint for garnish.)

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Of course, I realized that this drink is similar to the Elderflower Martini from last year.  But, make no mistakes, there are some very important differences that really make this cocktail amazing.  First, since you are only using gin (the martini uses a mixture of vodka and gin), you want to use good gin…use your favorite if the thought of mixing it doesn’t cause you distress.  Truly, the gin and elderflower liqueur share the spotlight in this drink.  This drink also uses lemon (versus lime) to give a slightly different flavor.  But the key ingredients here really are the “accessories”…the mint and the bitters.  The first time I made this without mint and it was good.  But the mint really brings this cocktail to a different level – it is fresh, smooth, and helps to merge the flavor of the gin and elderflower together.  Lastly, the bitters.  Three dashes is good and I prefer the Peychaud’s for this drink to the Angostura, but use what you have.  (I think even a lemon or lime bitters would be good…it will subtly change the flavor, but it will be good.)

One note on technique – the recipe did not suggest muddling the mint before mixing, however, I used hearty shakes to be sure to release the flavor of the mint from the leaves into the cocktail.  It worked out really well…I do not feel that this should be a minty drink, so I would advise against muddling (or even over-mixing).

* I can’t end this without a special shout out to my current favorite gins, neither of which I receive any special compensation from.  If you are reading in the UK, please go get some Hepple Gin (and enjoy it for me, as I can not buy it in the US…yet).  In the US, specifically Eastern Massachusetts, you NEED to get some Deacon Giles Gin (they also make rum and, soon, amber rum).  My first test of this drink was made with Deacon Giles and, no surprise, it was damn good!

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