Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Provençal Martini
A brace of Provençal Martinis. Don’t let that innocent pink glow fool you - this is no girly drink.

Houston Steve turned me on to a classic cocktail that makes me feel like I am wandering the shores of the Mediterranean in the south of France.

I refer to the Provençal Martini.

If you search the Internet for information about the Provençal Martini, you will find plenty of recipes, many of which have nothing in common with one another. But this is the one Houston Steve shared with me, adapted from the one published in the book Speakeasy by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric. [I recommend the book for many reasons, this recipe being but one.]

To make this drink, you will need to prepare two ingredients, neither of which is available in your local Booze-Shoppe. One is lavender-infused gin; the other is Vermouth de Provence.

For the lavender-infused gin, take two tablespoons of dried lavender blossoms and place them in a saucepan with half a 750 ml bottle of Plymouth gin. Heat just to boiling, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the rest of the gin and stir. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer or cheesecloth; discard the solids. Return the liquid to the bottle. You can store your lavender-infused gin indefinitely at room temperature.

Use a similar procedure for the Vermouth de Provence: Start with two tablespoons of herbes de Provence and place them in a saucepan over medium heat for about two minutes, or until fragrant. Pour in about half of a 750 ml bottle of white vermouth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then cut off the heat and allow to cool. Add the remaining vermouth and stir. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer or cheesecloth; discard the solids. Return the liquid to the bottle. Your Vermouth de Provence will keep indefinitely at room temperature.

You’ve got your infusions. Now for your Provençal Martini:

2 oz lavender-infused gin
1¼ oz Vermouth de Provence
¾ oz Cointreau

Combine the above ingredients in a glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Stir (do not shake) until well chilled. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Do not be tempted to substitute Grand Marnier or (gag) plain old Curaçao for the Cointreau. Cointreau is made from bitter oranges, and in this cocktail its sharper bite is needed to play off the powerful herb-laden alcohols.

It looks innocent, this Provençal Martini. It has a soft pink glow reminiscent of a diluted Cosmopolitan... but don’t let its Hello Kitty appearance fool you. This is no girly drink. It is assertive and herbaceous, plenty strong enough to knock you to your knees if you’re not careful. The perfect drink to order if you find yourself in a café in Nice... or in a casino in Monaco.

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