Today I'm bringing you a very special cocktail made with Cemetery Gin, a local gin made in Northern Nevada that highlights local ingredients like pine nut and lavender. Our "Cemetery Sour" cocktail incorporates these flavors along with lemon and sage to create an enticingly aromatic, sweet and sour libation.
I think it's safe to say that my lovely husband has graduated from being a home bartender to a home mixologist. While I'm making dinner, he's the one making cocktails. Usually he sticks to the classics, but when he plays around with new flavors, he transforms those classics into beautiful, new concoctions.
He had so much fun last weekend playing around with flavors to create a great cocktail from the (now almost gone) bottle of Cemetery Gin that we recently purchased. You may be thinking "Cemetery Gin? Never heard of it"...and right you are! This is a special gin that is produced and only sold locally in Northern Nevada. It comes from Virginia City--one of the most historic ghost towns in the west that is located a half hour away from Reno--and proceeds from sales of the gin go to the upkeep and restoration of the town's very old (and famous) cemetery. (Learn more about Virginia City here)
I not only enjoy supporting this gin because its proceeds go to a good cause, but because this gin is distinctly Nevadan. And for those of you that know me personally, you may be familiar with my obsession of this beautiful state that I live in. The creators of Cemetery Gin wanted to showcase aromatics that you might smell after a rainstorm up here in northern Nevada, like desert sage and lavender. They also added pine nuts to the mix which grow abundantly out here. The result is a highly vibrant, aromatic gin that is just begging to go into a cocktail.
Andrew played around a bit with different different ingredients that would enhance the flavor of this gin (because the last thing we wanted to do was hide those flavors). He wanted to do a variation of a classic "sour" cocktail, which uses a base spirit (like gin) plus lemon or lime and a sweetener. After many variations...and many spare cocktails for me to drink up...we finally came across the winning combination: lavender syrup, fresh sage, and a firey lemon squeeze. Because what's a cocktail without fire?
Don't be scared by the fire thinking you'll never be able to pull it off...because it is amazing. Surely this is a cocktail to make in front of a crowd to show off your bartending skills. You'll need a few ingredients that may be difficult to get...for one, unless you live in Northern Nevada, you won't find this gin in stores. Currently I don't see anywhere online to buy Cemetery Gin, so I hope that changes. I guess you'll just need to come visit the biggest little city in the world and get a bottle yourself!
To make the Cemetery Sour, you'll need the Cemetery Gin (you can of course use other gins, but they won't have the same flavors that incorporate the same way), fresh sage, fresh lemon, and lavender simple syrup. Here's how you make that:
Homemade Lavender Simple Syrup
Boil 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white sugar, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lavender blossoms (you can also substitute dried lavender). Stir constantly until all of the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes, then strain into a mason jar. Keep refrigerated when not using.
Once you have your lavender syrup, you can make the cocktail! Have fun with this one and don't be afraid of the use of fire. It really makes the cocktail!
The Cemetery Sour Cocktail
- 2 oz Cemetery Gin
- 1 oz Lavender Simple Syrup (directions, above)
- 2 fresh sage leaves
- 1 lemon peel
- Prepare the cocktail by rubbing a fresh sage leaf around the rim of a martini glass
- In an ice-filled mixing glass or shaker, stir the gin, lavender syrup, and lemon juice together
- Strain contents of the shaker into the prepared martini glass
- Light a match and hold it close to the drink. Briskly squeeze the lemon rind over the flame. The oils will ignite as they move towards the cocktail. Don't worry, you wont get burned. Extinguish your match safely.
- Bruise the remaining sage leaf by placing it flat on your palm and slapping it briskly with your other hand. This will release the oils and aromas from the sage leaf. Place the bruised sage leaf across the cocktail for garnish