It’s a very sad weekend in the liquor business, for this is the weekend we say goodbye to LeNell’s Wine and Spirits Boutique in Red Hook, Brooklyn. LeNell has been gracing us with her presence now for the last few years in the Hook, and yesterday she had to shutter her doors for good (at that location, at least). But she will back – oh yes, she will be back. Following a brief stint overseas, I expect LeNell to return in full force and open up anew – perhaps even including a cocktail loung in the mix?!
LeNell’s always had the most extensive Whiskey and Bitters selections in all the land. She even had a quirky bathtub she kept her gins she sold in. She is the epitome of southern charm, and will surely be missed.
Speaking of bitters, I attended a great bitters workshop led by Tal Nadari (of Bols Genever fame) and Stephan Berg, founder of The Bitter Truth. TBT specializes in bitters, but recently added a Rye Whiskey and Sloeberry Gin into the mix. The Clover Club was the hostess, and Stephan the speaker. He did a marvelous job of disecting the history and modern day usage of bitters, while the staff at Clover pleased our souls by passing around various libations using TBT bitters.
Both TBT and Bols Genever stress their usage in classic cocktails. One in particular, The Improved Holland Gin Cock-Tail, is straight from Jerry Thomas’ era. I’ve included the recipe below, so as to fascilitate your mixing of said cocktail:
The Improved Holland Gin Cock-Tail
Glass: A small pre-chilled cocktail glass/coupe
2 shots Bols Genever
3 dashes rich sugar syrup (2 parts sugar: 1 part water)
2 dashes The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
1 dash of dry orange curacao liqueur
Stir the ingredients with large, hard, cold ice cubes and strain into the glass.
Garnish: wet the rim of the glass with a lemon slice and discard, then after straining the drink into the glass, spray and rim a zest of lemon peel, dropping it into the drink afterwards.
You’ll also notice in past posts and/or future posts, I’ve used TBT bitters in various capacities. One of my absolute favorites is the Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters. If you don’t have a bottle of these in your possession, you are truly missing out. Adding a dash or two of these bitters to your favorite classics reminds you of the hard work and talent that JT put into coming up with his drinks, and towards running his many bars across the country.
I will think of you, sweet LeNell, as I sip my bitters-infused cocktails…