At the end of May, I was introduced to the Copperhead gin brand as they were doing a cocktail competition through the summer, with national selection first then a national final in Belgium, then a worldwide final in september during a 5 day cruise across the coast of Spain, figuring 5 days of cruising along the spanish coast wasnt a bad way to spend a week in september, I got myself to work.
There is three gins in the lineup, The Alchemist Gin, Black Batch, and the Gibson edition, that last one wasnt available for tasting when I started so I focused on the other two. The alchemist is a very well balanced gin focusing on 5 botanicals, letting each of them have their way in the taste. The black batch is less classic as it is infused with black tea and elderflower find its way in the botanical mix. Both are really good, but I felt they would fall short in a cocktail, so I decided to use both, going for a 35ml of Alchemist gin and 15ml of the black batch. That gave me a mix where both shined without overpowering the other.
Ok then, now the cocktail ? As I was looking for inspiration and context for the cocktail, I stumbled upon a painting by William de Nuncques, “Nocturne au Parc Royal” which seemed really soothing, very summer night calm which made me decide that I would do a cocktail complimenting that painting. This made me derive a bit from the “chemical” sense of “The Alchemist” but I stirred into the commonly accepted definition of Alchemy as when elements just work perfectly together, like my so far non existing cocktail with the painting, or the two gin together.
As the painting was blue, i wanted an opposite red drink so that if it was a part of the painting, it would stand out. Being a summer night drink, I imagined fruit going into it, the drink being fresh, soft but not sweet, refreshing…. Talking to Katja about the cocktail, she said that blueberries were in season and that they would go perfectly with the gin and some tarragon. She was right, it’s the same kind of association you see in grapefruit/rosemary everywhere to compliment gin & tonics and the freshness brought by tarragon was perfect in a summer night cool breeze way.
The differenciating factor I wanted, I found in shiso. This japanese leaves gave me earthy, more mineral flavor that ensured me that the tarragon wouldnt be taking all the space in the cocktail. I ended up making a light syrup infused with tarragon and shiso leaves, that went perfectly with my gin blend. The Alchemist gin was to me pretty heavy on angelica root, giving that liquorice aftertase. The syrup went really nicely around that, the tarragon preceding the angelica on the tongue, only leaving the place so that the shiso could come in and round everything up it was perfect. Real alchemy.
Lastly, I didn’t wanted a short martini type drink but something that after all you were supposed to sip all night in a parc. I immediately thought of adding club soda to make it a highball style drink, but it dispersed the flavors and felt too watered down. Next idea was champagne. What I didn’t foresaw was how well that would work with the shiso to reveal the wine side of champagne, adding another layer of complexity to the cocktail as well the lightness I was looking for. Again, perfect alchemy.
And so I was done. Final Recipe :
- 35ml Copperhead The Alchemist Gin
- 15ml Copperhead Black Batch
- 40ml of tarragon and shico syrup
- 15ml of blueberry purée
Top with champagne (approx. 30ml)
The alchemy did work for the judges of the competition too, since this cocktail was selected to be one of the four national finalists that will compete in the semi finals held in Belgium on August 7. More on that later !