What's old is new again
When a new product enters the market, or a really old one reemerges, as in the case of Bols Genever, you can more or less predict which handful of bars will be the early adopters. In fact, we could probably just focus this column on those bars - Craigie on Main, Eastern Standard, Green Street Grill, Drink - every week and never run out of ideas. And indeed, these are some of the only bars where you can find Bols Genever for now.
Bols Genever is based on a nearly 200-year-old Dutch recipe. The first Genever was produced in the 17th century. While it’s often referred to as the predecessor to gin, it’s not actually a gin, as it’s made with malt wine and a variety of botanicals that give it a sort of white whiskey quality and place it in a spirit category of its own.
Its fluid spirit identity and popularity during the early evolution of the cocktail in the mid-19th century are what make it appealing to history-minded bartenders like Craigie’s Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli. And it’s exciting for bartenders to try a product they haven’t had the opportunity to use, he says. “It is a product that blurs the boundaries between gin and whiskey and, simultaneously, it’s complex and interesting enough to be drunk on its own.’’
We found it easily approachable, and almost too drinkable in his Money Market (Bols Genever, Italian biodynamic cider, lemon juice, honey syrup with a touch of cardamom essence and orange bitters, $10). “It’s so versatile, nerds like me drink it straight,’’ he says. “Or it can play in a drink like this, gulpable. Because people are unfamiliar, we have it in a drink like this to get them introduced to it.’’
Kevin Martin, assistant bar manager at Eastern Standard, is also pleased with its versatility. “It works well in many applications, from highballs and citrus-based cocktails to flips,’’ he says. “I like to blend a variety of things with Bols, from different vermouths and bitters to fruitier flavors and champagne.’’
ES is featuring it on the menu in the River Rupel (Bols Genever, house-made amber vermouth, orange bitters, lemon oil, $10), a dry, bitter mix with a burnt citrus feel. This is a drink that pushes the Genever’s malt flavor to the front.
Green Street played around with it in a lot of classic cocktails before going with an Alaska (Bols Genever, yellow chartreuse, bitters, lemon, $12). The ingredients get out of the way, bartender Emily Stanley says, letting the Genever do most of the work. Plus, adds owner Dylan Black, “It’s a nice way to get gin drinkers into some new cocktails.’’ Or some really old ones, for that matter.
Green Street Grill, 280 Green St., Cambridge. 617-876-1655. www.greenstreetgrill.com; Craigie on Main, 853 Main St., Cambridge. 617-497-5511. www.craigieonmain.com; Eastern Standard, 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-532-9100. www.easternstandardboston.com
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