On May 21st a scientist attempting to locate gin's gravitational pull would have found many orbits drawn to the vicinity of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar due to the powerful influence of the twin suns, Beefeater Master Distiller Desmond Payne and Plymouth Master Distiller Sean Harrison.
These two gentlemen shared observations on gin in general and their specific products in particular while the small crowd enjoyed a bright little opening cocktail featuring Beefeater 24 called the Twinkle Toes (created by Jeff Hollinger and named by Jackie Patterson for its sprightly effect).
As we tasted the gins neat - with a drop of water, on our distillers' advice - Mr. Payne spoke on the non-industrialized nature of juniper farming. "It's a business of men hitting bushes with sticks". He also emphasized the importance of using botanicals wisely with traditional techniques saying "It's an exploration, not a colonization."
The food, from executive chef Jamie Lauren, was delicious and the drinks very tasty. We began with a Kampachi crudo amuse paired with a Martini Cocktail (with Beefeater) and a Marguerite Cocktail (with Plymouth). The first course - asparagus with burrata, roasted peppers, charred onion vinaigrette, wild arugula and speck - was paired with a Sensation (using the Plymouth and mixed by Steven Liles).
Our entree, a sublime slow cooked pork confit, was paired with an original drink by Jeff Hollinger, Desmond's Harlot. The drink is named for Mr. Payne's statement "Gin should be like a whore; it should go with anything" and, per Jeff, may be casually referred to as a "Dizzy's Ho" when not at a white tablecloth event. It consists of Beefeater gin, Plymouth sloe gin, cherry gastrique, Angostura bitters, Hellfire tincture, rosemary, and soda. It is unclear if one of Mr. Payne's other comments during the tasting, ostensibly about finishing flavors, might also bear on this general principle: "A good gin has to keep its tail up."
New-to-Absinthe pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez (known to Bibulo.us to be a gin fan as well as formidable force in the kitchen) showcased his skills in the form of a dessert of Japanese Kabosu Lime Parfait with green tea biscuit, tobacco foam, and grapefruit. This was paired with an original drink from Jackie Patterson using Beefeater 24 gin, lemon blossom & black pepper infused Dolin Blanc vermouth, and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur. This exotic and wonderful mouthful was dubbed "Hey Jealousy" by Absinthe bar manager Jonny Raglin.
Jacques Bezuidenhout closed us out with a nice Pink Gin and everyone left with a smile.
We really must advise anyone in the area to get on Absinthe's mailing list to be alerted of these occasional dinners. They'd be worth it for the food alone, but the drinks are fantastic, the price reasonable, and the company top drawer, even when you aren't as lucky as we were this time to be seated across from the ever enjoyable master distiller of Beefeater.