French importer and distributor, Heavenly Spirits, challenged six bartenders across the country to develop unique cocktails to celebrate Bastille Day.
To showcase the versatility and variety of the spirits of France, the team at Heavenly Spirits sent each bartender two different bottles to create a cocktail. Bartender Zev Glesta of New York created his Martin By The Sea using Rétha Oceanic Gin and Guerin Blanc Vermouth. Luke Nevin-Gattle of Chicago created his Castor & Pollux by blending Artez Arvani Vanilla Armagnac Liqueur and La Muse Verte Absinthe for a complex, easy to drink mix.
Before we get into the cocktails, let’s take a closer look at the four spirits used.
Artez Arvani Vanilla Armagnac Liqueur is a unique liqueur made by adding Madagascar vanilla beans to macerate in barrels of young Bas-Armagnac for several months before adding a touch of sugar. The pure vanilla spirit is a fantastic tool for bartenders as it has pure vanilla flavor and can be used in endless cocktails as well as served neat or on the rocks.
Using a family recipe from the 1900’s, Absinthe La Muse Verte is made from a delicate blend of eight plants including fresh cut baby wormwood leaves that are used within five minutes of being harvested. The brand grows wormwood on their property and the unique harvesting method causes the spirit to take on a luminescent jade color.
Inspired by the riches of the sea, Rétha Gin uses hand harvested fucus algae from the Île de Ré to create their spirit. Juniper, ginger, lemon, and black pepper round out the flavor profile for an invigorating flavor palate that opens and closes with salty, iodine notes reminiscent of an ocean breeze.
A base of white wine, caramelized grape juice, two-year-old white Pineau des Charentes, and a blend of herbs and spices are blended and aged in cognac casks to create Guerin’s Vermouth Blanc. The golden hue of the spirit matches the sunny, bright, and warm opening that leads to notes of white peaches, acacia, and angelica for a floral and fruity finish.
Castor & Pollux
Luke Nevin-Gattle of Chicago, IL
- 1 1/4 oz. Artez Arvani Vanilla Armagnac Liqueur
- 1/4 oz. La Muse Verte Absinthe
- 3/4 oz. Tennessee Rye Whiskey
- 3/4 oz. Dry French Vermouth
- 2 dashes Cocoa Bitters
- Garnish of a bed of mint leaves
Preparation: Chill two cognac tulip glasses. In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients (except garnish) and stir gently over ice. Place glasses on a bed of mint leaves and strain cocktail evenly into glasses.
Martin By The Sea
Zev Glesta of New York, NY
- 1 1/2 oz. Rétha Oceanic Gin
- 1 1/2 oz. Guerin Vermouth Blanc
- 1/2 oz. Maraschino Liqueur infused with Furikake and Bay Leaf
- 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
Preparation: In a mixing glass add ice and all of your ingredients and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and finish with a bay leaf and massive orange swath.
Zev explained that his furikake (a Japanese condiment made of seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and sugar) and bay leaf infusion was meant to help bring out the essence of the seaside gin and to promote the caramelized notes of the vermouth. He added bay leaf for its floral, herbal notes that blends with both spirits.