The Pineapple Gimlet

I've been wanting to make this cocktail for months, ever since I scheduled my Midwestern roundabout (Mtl -->StL -->CHI -->TOR -->Mtl) for late April and knew I'd get the chance to revisit The Matchbox, that sliver of a Chicago watering hole that is basically the greatest bar on Earth. To sate myself in the weeks prior, I read through Matchbox's Yelp reviews and saw that, time and again, opiners were recommending the pineapple gimlet. Doesn't that sound ah-mah-zing? A pineapple gimlet!

And then the PhoBlograpHusband and I finally went to The Matchbox and got the last two seats at the bar during happy hour. It seemed foolish for me to order and pay for an entire cocktail that I could only take one sip of (per my own pregnancy rules) so I asked Sean to order himself a pineapple gimlet and he said no. He was in the mood for a Manhattan. I suppose I could choose to call my husband a big, fat jerk at this point but it's really OK. I pouted for a moment and then moved on.

Except not entirely, because I still just knew that I had to try making a pineapple gimlet of my own, at home, for you, me, the blog and that selfish hubs o'mine. And in fact, when that finally happened, it was Sean who took the wheel and hammered this recipe out (because every now and then in my 30-something weeks of pregnancy I just hit a wall and have to go sit comatosely for a while).

Sean did everything right with this pineapple gimlet recipe, and the cocktail is quite divine: light in body yet full and round in flavor. You taste the lime juice first, its citrus tang bullish out of the gate, and then for an aftertaste you get the comparatively soft and lilting taste of pineapple.

Sean used less egg white than I probably would have, resulting in a drink with more visual clarity (and probably more clarity on the palate as well). Usually, out of sheer laziness, I just plop the entire, raw white of an egg into my shaker, but here Sean carefully portioned out just half of the white. Adding raw egg white to a cocktail, as well as complementing the drink with a rim of confectioner's sugar, are two tricks I learned years ago thanks to The Matchbox.

The Pineapple Gimlet

(inspired by the offering on the menu at Matchbox, but I have no idea how similar our recipes may be)

2 ounces Akvinta Vodka

1/2 ounce triple sec

3/4 ounces freshly squeezed pineapple juice

1/2 ounce lime juice

1/2 of the raw white of a large egg

Confectioner's sugar, for the rim

Lime slice, to garnish

Rim a cocktail glass with confectioner's sugar and set aside. Pour all liquid ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds (aka, a dry shake). Then fill with ice and do so again. Strain into your glass and add garnish.

Tasting Notes

Yeah, I made this a vodka pineapple gimlet rather than a gin one. Again, thought it might result in a flavor with more clarity, plus it gave me the chance to use our gifted Akvinta Vodka, which is clear-tasting in all those good vodka ways to say the least.

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The French Gimlet

Sometimes a cocktail is so obvious it writes itself. Sometimes a cocktail is so so-obvious that lots of different people come up with it -- consensus I interpret to mean that the drink’s simply meant to be. Such is the breezily elegant French Gimlet.

Sean and I had our turn inventing this drink two summers ago. He’d brought the St. Germain liqueur home from work as a freebie. I’m still not sure why we had gin lying around (this was before we’d spent hundreds stocking the at-home bar to near-pro proportions). Probably we had limes on hand just because it was summer, and possibly because when Mama gets a little pickled, Mama likes a bourbon and cola sloshing around in her free hand, always garnished with a lime wedge.

We never came up with a name for our gin-St. Germain-lime juice concoction, but we served it at my 35th birthday party to nice acclaim. Then a few months ago, I happened upon a nifty little recipe booklet that came boxed with the St. Germain. Usually these flitty bits of “literature” (as my Mom would call it) are stupid, full of stupider recipes with the stupidest names. Seriously, I’ve probably put bottles back on the liquor-store shelf after reading the hangtags around their necks suggesting I whip up a fucking Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookie or a Club Nuvo. (I just asked Sean to name the two most asinine alcoholic products he could think of. He bartends a lot of weddings in New Jersey so, sadly, he knows.)

But the St. Germain book looks like The Decemberists designed it and contains recipes any cocktail lover can respectfully abide by -- including one, I realized, that we thought we’d already come up with ourselves, the French Gimlet.

When I found out a couple weeks ago that Mark (a huge fan of St. Germain and a very experienced bartender) had likewise put this drink together, it reminded me of what we like to say in the magazine biz: One’s just a thing, two’s a coincidence, three’s a trend. So while I cannot claim authorship of The French Gimlet -- the moniker christened upon it by the good folks who wrote the St. Germain book -- I will insist that I’m a key reason why it’s about to blow up large.

The French Gimlet

1 ¼ ounces Hendrick’s Gin

¾ ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur

½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass.

Tasting Notes:

Sean prefers this with Bulldog Gin, and when we first made it a couple years ago, we used Tanqueray. I like to think the botanicals of the Hendrick’s makes it the best choice. (Also, check out the Hendrick's website. Does it not scream Decemberists?)

The St. Germain booklet actually states that, like any gimlet, this can be made with either vodka or gin (no brand names given), that it should be strained “into a coupette [ooh la la... ah, mon Dieu, c'est "a margarita glass" --Ed.] or Martini glass,” and that after garnishing with a lime twist, your last step is to “consult your mirror and evince your best gimlet-eyed stare. You never know when you might need it.” En garde!

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