The winter chill is a nudge for you to linger over a glass of smoky single malt Scotch. Spring urges you to welcome newfound sunshine with a shimmering gin and tonic. And the summer practically squeals “Margarita!” The stumbling point is the moment we’re in right now, the liminal space between March’s merciless onset and its gentle departure. It calls for an attention-getting spirit, something to engage with while you wait out the weeks. The best solution I’ve found — a spirit to bridge the gap — is barrel-aged gin, a product some smaller distilleries are dabbling in. It has all the oaky notes that you know from whiskies and brandies and, at the same time, delivers a compelling botanical snap, though one that’s a bit more muted than the zingy brightness characteristic of your standard gin. At Harvard Square’s Grafton Street, beverage director and general manager Morgan Carney makes good use of it in Jumbo’s Ashes, his full-bodied yet restrained cocktail that employs Barr Hill’s Tom Cat Gin from Vermont as its base. Apricot liqueur pulls the gin’s vague honey sweetness out from the oaky flavors, and a lemon tang and herbal zip round out the affair. Sip on this and you might find yourself thinking: spring can wait.
Makes 1 drink
2 ounces Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin (or any barrel-aged gin)
½ ounce Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur
¾ ounce lemon juice
2 dashes Crude Orange & Fig bitters (or orange bitters)
2 basil leaves
1 orange peel to garnish
1. Pour all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Lay basil leaves on your palm and slap with other hand to release aromatics. Add to the liquid mix. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
2. Double-strain over a large ice cube. Gently squeeze orange peel over the drink to express the oils. Garnish with peel.