Abundance is all around us, and autumn gifts us with tangible proof of the beauty of life. In times past, the season was known simply as “the harvest”-a time to gather the stock and produce of the land. It comes as a surprise to many that farming is of the utmost importance at Highclere, as they’re renowned for premium oats that have been fed to champion horses and give our gin its signature velvety mouthfeel. Displayed by the Herbert family for generations, stewards of HC is a faithfulness to the land and a respect for the seasons that all of us could do well to emulate and has influenced me profoundly.
The sweet component of a cocktail is second only to water from dilution in importance. It’s the primary “seasoning” agent in a beverage, akin to salt in cooking. Simple syrup is the ubiquitous choice, and is easily substituted with maple syrup. This instantly brings any beverage into fall territory.
Harvest Moon Sour
Our two step sour gets the fall treatment. One and a half ounces of our gin, an ounce of fresh pressed cider, half an ounce of maple syrup, half a lemon’s juice, shaken is a lovely balance of bright acidity and brooding sweetness. Finishing with a dash or two of Angostura bitters will create spiced magic.
Simplicity is always our North Star, and this sling is the perfect “less is more” cocktail. One tablespoon of maple syrup, one and a half ounces of our gin, four ounces of soda water topped with grated nutmeg makes for lovely quaffing with charcuterie and fig jam, which is an evening rite of early autumn in my home.
Apples and Blackberries
The Apple buck highlights the chief produce of the season and it’s affinity with ginger. It’s the perfect September drink while the seasons dance with each other, summer beginning to excuse herself and autumn sashaying proudly in Two ounces of our gin, juice of one lime and four ounces of ginger beer topped with an ounce of fresh cider captures this month of transition perfectly, and will conjure green summer memories while stoking desire for the coming colors of red and gold.
The bramble is a favorite of Lord Carnarvon’s and blackberries are in plentiful supply at Highclere. Shaking two blackberries with two ounces of our gin, juice of half a lemon and half an ounce of honey is going to yield fantastic results. Topping the beverage with a couple teaspoon’s worth of tawny port or oloroso sherry pays dividends.
The Martini can be the foundation around which autumn cocktails live. We are in a midst of a true martini age that rivals high art, and cleaning up the dirty martini is being endeavored by mixologists to great success.
The classic mix of gin and olive juice, while mouth watering and quite delicious, is something less than pleasing to the eye. The texture of the gin (one of Highclere’s most prized and unique signatures) is all but destroyed with the invariable olive bits that infiltrate.
-The Noble herb and olive sachet also brings an elegant piece of business and flavor affinity to our dirty endeavors
Simply plunge 3 olives in a tea sachet with a few needles of rosemary (dried for the strongest flavor) in hot water for a few seconds and then add this to the bottom of an ice cold martini glass. Let the sachet steep as you sip. For those craving more olive flavor, a spritz of atomized olive brine brings the flavor to the forefront and keeps our beverage in balance.
No matter the temperature, that feeling of summer slowly wanes, yet autumn has yet to fully set in.. Longing for either is a fool’s errand, and that reflection produced the aforementioned cocktails. It is quite alright to be a bit in between, in life and in beverage. Enjoy this end of summer/start of fall hybrid with gusto, as it will be gone before we know it.