The selection of a proper cocktail is an important thing; it shouldn’t be done lightly and it’s ill-advised to do it with undue haste.
When you’re at a good bar, there’s usually a thoughtful and well-balanced representation of drinks available to fit any mood, so it’s necessary to pay attention to what the bartender has proffered as your choices for the evening—these cocktails do, after all, represent what he/she does best. However, it is of primary importance that you select a cocktail that fits your mood and the moment.
Sometimes you want the abandon of fruity concoctions bursting with fresh and lively flavors. Sometimes you’re looking for a quiet, subtle moment with a contemplative cocktail in front of you. Maybe you’re looking for smoky richness or the clash of contrasts or the stinging bite or the soothing kiss. And maybe you crave a bold and basic classic…a cherried Manhattan, the brace of a Sazerac, the shuddering shivering snap of an icy Martini.
So you think about it, mull it over, consider different choices and different directions. And you decide: tonight, something boozy, something with for-god-sake alcohol in it, and something powerful and unmistakable that you need to take in small, measured sips because the flavors are so intense.
And when you’re sitting at the bar in Kask @Gruner in Portland, that means you’ve decided on Clement’s Curse.
What’s a Clement’s Curse? Ice. Lots of ice. A heaping mix glass full of ice. Add Broker’s Gin, a definitive London Dry in style, brisk and forward with the evergreen of juniper berry, coriander, cinnamon and citrus—or, as one reviewer described it, “an uncompromising, unapologetic, classic gin.” To that add a healthy dollop of Lillet Blanc, a fruity vinous liqueur from Bordeaux (but don’t you dare call it vermouth because it isn’t). Just call it good. Then throw in that elixir of the monastery, Benedictine, the monk-created dram of heavenly goodness containing both the bitter and the sweet of life, and finish with a dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters.
Stir it up, slowly and thoroughly, giving it time to mix and meld, so that it takes all the elements together and becomes the cocktail. Then strain carefully into the glass so the cocktail is richly colored in burnished metallic yellow, transparent to the eye, showing the freshly peeled slice of lemon zest suspended in the liquid. It should be icy, but not dilute with ice, enough to chill the glass and chill the lips with the first sip, but opening to the air and spreading the heady aromas through the nose and the back-palate as the flavors and textures slide over the tongue and trickle, tingling and soothing at the same time, down the throat.
And that’s just the first sip.