March 14, 2006

Dutch Courage: Damrak Gin

Bachelor #1 hails from Amsterdam: Damrak is made at one of the world's oldest distilleries, established in 1575.

This is a serious, grownup gin. As a matter of fact, it's so serious that I've concluded it shouldn't be paired with tonic water. Ever. It has an almost bitter quality to it that reminds me of tequila; this could be the perfect gin for a gimlet. It's rich and flavorful—but its bitterness combines with the quinine in the tonic, and the two together can be a bit much. (Yes: I tried. I had to.) Something like a gimlet that has a bit of lime and a slight sweetness would work very well.

And if you're looking for a "sipping gin," this is truly your ticket. It contains a cornucopia of botanicals that buttress the juniper taste and may take me years to fully figure out. Which is lovely: I live for this kind of challenge.

Let's see what others say:

Jim Clarke at Star Chefs concurs, explaining that the Dutch tend to drink their gin chilled and neat, but the orangey notes in Damrak work well for fruity cocktails:

I particularly liked it in Gimlets and Cosmopolitans; as a martini gin it definitely prefers a twist to olives. It was heavier than London Gin with tonic, and mixed somewhat less successfully in some Old School cocktails. For example, I liked a Damrak Negroni but not a Pink Gin.

Yes. It does pair well with citrus, and the idea of using it for a dirty martini makes me shudder. Think sweet, not savory. And put that Angustura away. Thanks.

I stumbled across a Brit review of the KLM airline, which was too amusing not to quote, when it proclaims that the Dutch airline serves "horrible Dutch gin" (not that British tastes are supreme in such matters, of course):

The drinks policy on KLM is firmly adapted to the Dutch tastes - on the rare occasions when you can get on a plane that isn't dry. KLM carry Damrak Gin, which is the Dutch version. Admittedly the Dutch invented Gin in the 15th century, however Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray - or even Gordon's for that matter - is an improvement. Alas, not for KLM, and the airline continues to serve Damrak.

Arrogant Limeys. They think the world revolves around them, you know.

Get your own bottle.

This is the first in my "Gin Palace" series, for which I'll be reviewing . . . gin. I'm actively fielding requests for other brands that readers would like previews of. (I'll also be looking at whiskeys on occasion, and a few red wines—because I'm super and splendid, and a bit of a lush.)

Darrell, I'm still looking for Cascade Mountain Gin. I'll check one more place, and then buy it online if need be.

Oh, and—everyone should send me money to finance this important public works project. Thanks.

Posted by Attila Girl at March 14, 2006 01:52 AM | TrackBack

I hope distillers are taking notes! See, Cascade Mountain Gin is ALREADY hard to find! Nobody gets the product flying off the shelves like LMA.

Sorry to rain on the Dutch gin parade, but gin has its origins in Italy, where it was used as an elixir for kidney problems and stomach upsets. It made its way to the Netherlands over time (around the mid-16th century, not the 15th, so much for the Beeb's fact checking)becoming "Genever," (or jenever)(from the French genièvre, meaning juniper).

I loved the first installment in your "Gin Palace" series...I'm looking forward to having the complete series! A fitting tribute to the beverage that kept Western civilization alive in the time before regular hygienic bathing. I believe someone once said "If women are the Gatekeepers , gin is the hinge oil." Then the women killed him and ordered another round of G&Ts... It took courage to be snarky in the old days, and the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) brought Dutch courage to English-speaking masses, where they promptly added a lime wedge and made it perfect...

Posted by: Darrell at March 14, 2006 12:18 PM

I'm not a big drinker so I can't add too much here but maybe you'd like this article on gin in our local version of your LA Weekly.

Or maybe not.

Posted by: Daniel at March 14, 2006 05:35 PM

Who drinks gin? People with good taste! Pity the vodka drinkers who look for the perfect brand. What's their benchmark? No taste! There are better ways to warm your tongue...

Posted by: Darrell at March 14, 2006 08:48 PM

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