Category Archives: CotW

Cocktail of the Week #10: Freeside

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

If the above quote sounds familiar, then you’ve probably read William Gibson’s Neuromancer, or at least tried to (it’s the first line of the novel). And if you haven’t heard of William Gibson, you might just be familiar with the cocktail of a similar name, the Gibson. Figure out where I’m going with this yet?

This week’s Cocktail of the Week is one you’ve never seen in any bar, book or menu across the world. I can say this with certainty because I created this cocktail — The Freeside — myself, just a few weeks ago.

The Freeside is a Gibson variation that’s also an homage to William Gibson himself.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
  • 1 sprig dill, muddled
  • 2 slices kirby cucumber, muddled
  • 1 lemon peel, muddled
  • 12 drops Caramelized Ramp Bitters (from Bitters, Old Men)
  • 1 sprig dill, for garnish

Muddle the dill, cucumber and lemon peel in a mixing glass with the Dolin Blanc and Bitters, Old Men Caramelized Ramp Bitters. Add gin and stir with ice, fine-straining into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a smacked dill sprig.

The Freeside swaps out the Gibson’s Dry Vermouth for Dolin Blanc, and replaces the Pickled Onion with muddled dill, cucumber, lemon peel and caramelized ramp bitters. Dill was chosen due to its resemblance to a data tree, an integral computer science data structure and invoking (William) Gibson themeswhile kirby cucumbers were used for having a similar shape as the Freeside space resort in Neuromancer.

The result is a fragrant, savory cocktail with a stiff backbone of gin.

But really, the lesson here is how to approach making your own cocktails. While you could just start dumping spirits in a glass,  I’d recommend first taking a drink you really like and looking at its base components, particularly their flavor profile and their ABV. Then try swapping one of those base components out with something else. Vodka to Gin, Sweet Vermouth for Maurin Quina, Angostura Bitters for Orange Bitters; that sort of thing.

If you’re stumped for what direction to go in, consider the inspiration in the world around you. For me, it was thinking about how little representation sci-fi has in the cocktail world. Maybe for you it’s coming up with a cocktail to capture the feel of going back to school, or the joy of a new relationship or your favorite number. The only limit is your imagination.

Hokey? Yes. True? You bet your ass it is.

Enjoy our Cocktail of the Week posts? Check out the archives!

Cocktail of the Week #9: Speak Low

Forget Ned Stark and his climate change warnings because right now the only season on my mind (and my fellow New Yorkers’s minds) is Fall. Cool, breezy, crisp Fall, a time of sweaters, fingerless gloves and a whole new crop of cocktails to enjoy. This week, we’ll talk about one such tipple, the “Speak Low”:

Jazzheads will recognize the name from the classic Kurt Weill song, while New York cocktail geeks may recognize the drink itself from the Japanese-staffed oasis, Angel’s Share.

Speak Low

  •  1.75oz Dark or Aged Rum
  • .5oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry
  • 1 tsp Matcha Powder
  • (Optional) Oils from one Grapefruit Twist

This is a relatively easy one to make, requiring no more than Dark Rum, Pedro Ximenez Sherry and Matcha Powder, as demonstrated in this video, with perhaps the most perplexing questions being:

  1. Where the hell do I get matcha powder?
  2. What’s a “chasen”?

As was mentioned in the most recent issue of Imbibe, there are three main grades of matcha powder (from highest to lowest): koicha, usuicha, culinary grade. For this cocktail, you’re going to want to use koicha (thick) or usuicha (thin), which you can find at a place such as Harney & Sons. For 30g, you can expect to pay somewhere between $12 and $28.

Personally, I opted for the koicha because I was looking to recreate to the Angel’s Share experience to the best of my ability. That being said, I did not not opt to buy the “chasen” (bamboo whisk) or “chawan” (tea bowl) that is traditionally used in preparing green tea. Instead, my method goes something like this:

  • Pour 1.75oz – 2oz of rum in a mixing tin
  • Add a tsp of matcha powder
  • Whisk with a clean wooden chopstick

While not as memorable as using the chawan/chasen combo, it gets the job done while only using standard bar equipment. After whisking, you can fine-strain this into a mixing glass, add your sherry, optional grapefruit twist oils, ice and then stir and fine-strain one last time over a large ice cube in a chilled rocks glass.

Voilà, easy as can be.

And if you’re looking for other uses for that matcha powder, consider using it for any of these:

  • Baked goods
  • Garnish for fizzes and flips
  • Part of the base for drinks with cream or egg white
  • The world’s most expensive confetti

Enjoy our Cocktail of the Week posts? Check out the archives!