Ode to Oude Genever
Regional spirits always intrigue me. Whenever I sample a local booze, even if I think I know my way around the spirit, it never fails that I discover some new flavor. So I was very curious about trying a real Dutch genever on a recent trip to the Netherlands. We’d been told it was “their version of gin,” but what we found was far from it. Genever has assertive malty notes not typical of gin. There are two types, standard genever and oude meaning “old,” which does not refer to age but to the older recipe and method used to produce it.
First we tasted both then compared notes. “Funky,” “malty,” “breadlike,” and, least appealing,”socky,” all came up. It’s an acquired taste but not a hard one. We were determined to find its sweet spot. So, we called on our friend Jeff Ladman, expert drink man and bar manager of the Air Conditioned Lounge.
“It’s not for everyone, then anything worth doing never is,” Jeff says, describing genever. “Long on flavor, this crude gin lives well in the germain garden.” He suggested we try it with earthy celery bitters, a floral or herbal liqueur, and a snap of fresh lemon juice – a simplified riff on the Fletcher Christian cocktail. What we got was a lovely blend of old Dutch flavors and a fresh garden scent of flowers and herbs. Perfect for the shoulder season we approach.
Oude Fletcher Cocktail
- 1 oz. Oude genever (we smuggled a bottle of Bols back from Amsterdam; you can get Boomsma locally)
- 3/4 oz. St. Germain liqueur
- 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. Bitter Truth Celery bitters (if using Fee Brothers Celery or other bitters, decrease amount by half)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass of ice, stir well and strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.