Derby Cocktail- 1 oz. Michter's Bourbon, 1 oz Vya Sweet Vermouth, .75 oz Creole Shrubb, .75 oz lime juice, mint

Derby Cocktail

1 oz bourbon (Michter's US*1 Small Batch)
1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Vya)
1/2 oz orange curacao (Clement Creole Shrubb)
3/4 oz lime juice
Add mint leaf

Shake over ice. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass. Smack mint, then garnish.

This cocktail is from Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. The cocktail starts with a candied orange, tobacco, and mint nose. There is a tart/sweet entry followed by spiced orange notes, herbaceous botanicals from the vermouth and the charred oak depth of the whiskey. This is an interesting drink in the limited amount of bourbon, which may turn some away, but it's reservation leads to a different beast of a drink, a bourbon cocktail to be sure, but one to be savored rather than shot down the hatch. The Creole shrubb is an amazing liqueur and holds its own with the tartness of the lime, a top choice among orange liqueurs. This is a good cocktail for fans of sour drinks such as the Pegu Club, whom prefer whiskey to gin.

Kina Cocktail- 1.5 oz dry gin, .75 oz Cocchi Americano, .75 oz Punt E Mes

Kina Cocktail:

1.5 oz. dry gin (Small's)
3/4 oz. Kina Lillet (Cocchi Americano)
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth (Punt E Mes)

Stir with ice. Strain.

After a great night of cocktails with Eric Seed at Teardrop Lounge I was inspired to pick up a couple bottles from his mind-boggling portfolio, Cocchi Americano and Bonal Gentiane Quina (In PDX Pearl Specialty carries both). I started with the Kina cocktail from The Savoy Cocktail Book to experiment with. Cocchi Americano is considered the most accurate representation of Kina Lillet (no longer in production under the traditional formula).

The nose is strong juniper, mild citrus, with additional herbal notes reminiscent of chartreuse. The sweetness of the Punt E Mes tones back the initial spicy bitterness of the gentian and cinchona, which follow on the swallow enlivening the palate as a good aperitif should.The cinchona slowly builds upon sip mixed with ceylon, star anise, and followed with a strong gentian dryness and extreme cardamom finish of the Small's Gin from Ransom, a Portland local favorite.

The Perfect Cocktail - 1 oz. @HendricksGin, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, 1 oz. dry vermouth

1 oz. Gin* (Hendricks's)
1 oz. French Vermouth (Dolin)
1 oz. Italian Vermouth (Punt E Mes)

Stir with ice. Strain.

*The recipe called for dry gin, but Hendrick's was calling me.

I was making macaroons and flipping through the Savoy Cocktail Book looking for something in a French theme and noticed that French and Italian was the designation for dry and sweet vermouth respectively. This led to further investigation where I learned that vermouths were often referred to in this way as most French vermouths were white and Italian, red. If you did not already know this and if you have been reading this blog and others, you may have noticed that this is not a steadfast rule as there are red French vermouths (Dolin) and white Italian vermouths (Martini and Rossi). However, this guideline is helpful in recreating some of the older vintage cocktails.
While delicious, rich, complex, drinkable, simple, and sublime, I instantly wanted to tinker with this drink (and already had by not sticking with a dry gin) so I'm not sure that I would consider it perfect, but I am conflicted about disagreeing with Mr. Craddock, though sometimes a name is just a name. I think Punt E Mes and Hendrick's go particularly well together and mix with the fruity Dolin for a full-bodied sip. I was craving some bitterness as the drink is on the sweet side. In the next iteration I added Torani Amer and homemade orange bitters.

Perfect Cocktail #2
1 oz. Gin* (Hendricks's)
.75 oz. French Vermouth (Dolin)
.75 oz. Italian Vermouth (Punt E Mes)
.5 oz. Amer Picon (Torani Amer)
1 dash homemade orange bitters

This was a good drink, though quite a different character of drink, with the bitter orange of the Amer and the gentian of the bitters. It also was not quite the flavor I was seeking. A very similar cocktail also worth trying is the Income Tax Cocktail, essentially the Perfect cocktail with orange juice and Angostura bitters.
I eventually settled on

Eye of the Beholder:
1 oz. Gin* (Hendricks's)
.75 oz. French Vermouth (Dolin)
.75 oz. Italian Vermouth (Punt E Mes)
.5 oz. Cynar

This was the drink I was looking for. Sweet, bitter, complex, almost a syrupy velvety richness without being cloying. Perfect? I will leave perfection as an endless pursuit.