Friday, May 7, 2021

Le Subtil (Death & Co. Recipe)


Subtle is a good way to describe this drink. It isn't the kind of cocktail that beats you over the head with bitterness or spicy gin. Spirits like genever and Cardamaro are soft. Any spicy notes they carry are smoothed out by aging. The genius of Le Subtil comes from finding that sweet balance of these ingredients that don't especially assert themselves too strongly, then boosting them with lifting bitters like hopped grapefruit.

I got this Fee Brothers' grapefruit bitters to make this cocktail, since I couldn't find Bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters. I know from past experience that a dash of my own celery bitters gives a drink hoppy notes of bitter flowers very similar to hops. The experience, once you twist grapefruit peal on top, is a drink with a no grapefruit juice that smells and tastes like a grapefruit juice drink but rich with all the other spirits. The Bols barrel-aged genever has the oak, malt and juniper that fits right in with cardamom of Cardamaro, which also has other bitter herbs. The Antica Formula vermouth (which the recipe calls for but I am using a Cocchi product with a similar profile) is rich with quinine and oak as well. And it all floats upward with citrus notes at first sip and at the finish. 

  • 2 oz. Bols Genever (barrel aged used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cardamaro
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Formula vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 2 dashes Bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters (Fee Brothers' grapefruit bitters and homemade celery bitters used)
  • grapefruit twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the grapefruit twist.

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