When I studied abroad in Ireland my junior year, I was shocked to learn that my Irish roommates preferred Budweiser to Guinness. The American import was pissier and more expensive than their native stout, yet none of the lads would be caught in the pub with a Guinness in hand. I chalked this up to the tendency to always want what you haven't got, and related to their impulse to eschew the familiar for the exotic.
This is not necessarily so, however, in Holland, where every fourth bottle of spirits sold is a bottle of genever. I learned this fun little fact from Bols brand ambassador Simon Duff at the Juniperlooza seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, and decided to put this theory to the test by contacting up my good friend Alexander, who hails from Amsterdam.
"Do you drink genever at all? Is it popular at home in Holland?" I texted him quite out of the blue last week while working on this week's Weekly Dig column about different types of gin.
"Yes I do! I have a bottle in my freezer! It's running low. Reminds me of my dad. I only drink it on special occasions..." he responded immediately.
So, there you have it folks, straight from the tall Dutchman's mouth. The stuff is indeed popular in Holland, if impossible to come by in the US.
We had a chance to try a small sip of both jonge and oude genever while in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, and sampled it again at a recent meeting chez Bourbon Belle. President Hanky Panky managed to smuggle several bottles back to the states with her on a trip to Amsterdam last spring.
The strong juniper flavor inherent in genever makes no bones about being a great-great-great grandparent to the modern dry styles of gin we know and love today. That said, its fuller and gads maltier than the stuff you put in a modern gin and tonic, a totally different gin-drinking experience. It is indeed special stuff, and though the real Dutch spirit is hard to come by in the United States, Genevieve by the San Francisco-based Anchor Distilllery stands in as a delicious take on the product.
So here's the ultimate challenge: get your friends who live in London to smuggle you back some Old Tom Gin and your very own tall Dutchman to return from Holland with a suitcase full of Hollands. Then mix them up in alternating batches of the following cocktail, as Seamus Harris of Bunnyhugs did and reported on here this past June.
Recipe adapted from Imbibe! by David Wondrich
1 dash of aromatic bitters
2 dashes of maraschino
1 oz Old Tom Gin or Genever
2 oz Italian vermouth
Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
This drink is believed to be a predecessor to the modern martini, and was originally concocted with Old Tom Gin. The genever version is delicious as well. I wonder -- what would happen if I served this to the next person who requested "a martini" at the restaurant where I work...hmmm...