Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gin Class at Tender Bar & Kitchen

The sun shone, it was almost noon. A queue of strangers was forming outside Tender Bar & Kitchen in Lawrenceville waiting patiently for the doors to open. 

Passersby may have thought the worst of us. We may have appeared to be overly thirsty for our first drink of the day, but that wasn't the case at all. We were there for a class on gin. We were thirsty for knowledge.

You can study gin?! Yes, you can. Our instructor for the day was Marie Perriello, the Education Director at Tender, assisted by Jeff Catalina, the owner of both Tender and Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina in Garfield. I don't know about you, but I LOVE a bar with an Education Director! The more I know about what I drink, the better I like it.

The long bar in the narrow, former-bank-turned-bar, was lined with 18 students awaiting Marie's cocktail enlightenment. Each of us had our own station and equipment - tins, both a cocktail AND a julep strainer, barspoon, glasses, etc. everything we needed to make our own drinks.  
It was a real treat to start off with an old-fashioned, non-alcoholic vanilla phosphate. I hadn't had one of those since I was a kid on a spinning stool at the drugstore counter! Plates of the kitchen's fresh-made potato chips with aioli and bowls of piping hot hush puppies kept up our energy throughout the class.

Marie and Jeff conducted a gin tasting before we started mixing cocktails.  We tasted and learned the differences in taste and the suitability for types of cocktails by sampling Beefeater, Plymouth, Old Tom and Bols Ginever. I couldn't decide if I like the Plymouth or the Bols best - all four were excellent.

The cocktail making began with a Martinez, a stirred gin cocktail. Here's where we used the Haymans Old Tom Gin we had tasted earlier along with Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Sweet Vermouth and Boker's Bitters. Stirred gently with ice in a circular motion, strained with a julep strainer into a coupe glass and garnished with lemon peel, it was delicious. And beautiful, don't you think?

The Martinez
Next we moved to a shaken cocktail called The Last Word - the perfect name for the last cocktail of the day. I chose Plymouth gin...the smooth sweetness would complement the other components of the cocktail. Luxardo was used again, Green Chartreuse (another fave of mine) and fresh-squeezed lime juice. 

The Last Word

After shaking and double straining the liquid into a cocktail (martini) glass, we were ready to raise a toast to the education in gin that we'd gotten in a short, but sweet, two hours. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday at all.

One of the things Marie stressed was the adaptability of a cocktail...how you can swap out one spirit for another, a modifying agent or spirit for another. She gave us confidence to take what she taught and experiment on our own.  

Marie mentioned using Mezcal in place of gin in the Martinez and, in fact, I've enjoyed a cocktail she makes that does that very thing. So I tried messing with spirits and other additions myself and came up with this little number. Here's the recipe first for Marie's classic Martinez.

Want to learn that cocktail confidence yourself? Sign up for upcoming classes at Tender! I'll see you there!

Martinez - Marie Perriello

  • 2 oz. Haymans Old Tom Gin
  • .5 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Boker's Bitters

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass. Use a julep strainer and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.  

Mezcal Martinez - my version
  • 2 oz. Wild Shot Mezcal
  • .5 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
  • dropper full Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters
Stir all in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with lemon peel. 

Mezcal Martinez - my version

Cocktail education really is Marie's specialty. In addition to bartending at both Tender and Acacia, she owns her own cocktail education business, Stir Society

Marie conducts demonstrations and classes in homes to delight and amaze your friends or businesses as a team-building exercise or entertainment for clients. Check it out for your next party or business meeting...it will be an event to be remembered!

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