It’s been a couple of years of little or no travel, so doesn’t hitting the Silk Road sound amazing? That network of ancient trade routes spans China and Asia, into the Middle East and southeastern Europe, and it brought us spices that are the roots of our modern cuisine … and beverages.
Long before Europeans thought of macerating herbs and spices with wine or distilled alcohol—in fact, as far back as 2500-3000 BCE, centuries before invading Moors introduced distillation to Southern Europe—archaeologists tell us the Chinese aromatized their earliest wines with local herbs, probably for medicinal purposes. Travelers and merchants following the Silk Road over the centuries carried with them new spices and new knowledge of how to use them.
And who doesn’t like a little spice in their life??
This cocktail is an homage to the ancient trade route, featuring herbs and spices in the gin, the Benedictine D.O.M., and the aromatic bitters. And wow, is it tasty! It’s refreshing, too, as the lime’s acid keeps it bright, but that’s balanced by the softness of the apricot liqueur and the Benedictine.
For a little extra zing, seek out a vacuum-distilled gin, such as Oxley (out of England) or “Snowdrop” American Dry Gin, from Saxtons River Distillery in Brattleboro, VT. Vacuum distillation, also called cold distillation, is a technique that tends to preserve the botanical flavors in a gin, and those flavors nicely augment the herbaceous notes of the other ingredients.
1½ London Dry Gin
⅓ oz Benedictine D.O.M.
⅓ oz Apricot brandy liqueur
½ oz Lime juice
½ oz Simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled stem glass. Garnish with twist of grapefruit or lime zest.