Step 1: Go out and buy Citadelle Reserve gin. Step 2: Go out and buy Strega.
Both are phenomenal ingredients, extremely unique, and will surely bring you pleasurable cocktail after cocktail. Strega, surprisingly, was an unknown to many of the cocktailians who frequent the Mixoloseum chat room. To the uninitiated, Strega an Italian liqueur made from some seventy herbs and colored a lovely golden yellow with saffron. The name, which means “witch” in Italian, was originally a genius marketing scheme to sell the liqueur. The town it’s produced in, Benevento, has traditions of witchcraft, but not the malicious kind. The kind where witches make love potions. And as we’ve learned throughout history, anything marketed as a love potion sells like crazy.
Strega’s flavor reminds me of sweet anise, spearmint, and just a hint of vanilla. It’s wonderful by itself or on ice, but where it really shines is in cocktails. But before I go on, I must talk about Citadelle Reserve gin. This stuff is just so good. Nearly every potion that it has caressed has come out magnificent, alluring, and more than a bit new. It’s creamy, complex, and extremely mixable. What’s most exciting is that it’s aged for six months in oak barrels. Aged gin? Oh yes. It’s a light golden color and a touch to the tongue reveals the slightest hint of vanilla along with the juniper you’d expect. A perfect match for Strega? I think so.
- 1oz Citadelle Reserve gin
- 1oz Strega
- 1oz lime juice
- 1/2oz grapefruit juice
- 1/2oz cinnamon syrup
- 1 dash Fee’s whiskey barrel-aged bitters
- 1 dash Fee’s grapefruit bitters
- ginger beer, to top
Build in a glass with crushed ice. Give it a few twists of the spoon and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, lime twist, and some saffron if you’re feeling luxurious.
The aged gin almost seems as if it adds a creaminess to the cocktail that other gins didn’t. At the same time, it manages to be assertive enough to poke its head out among strong players like Strega and lime juice too. Put Strega and Citadelle Reserve together with some cinnamon and grapefruit, and they perform a symphony of delight.
I know I haven’t done two questions in a while, but these are important!
- Have you had Strega? What cocktails do you enjoy it in?
- What’s your opinion on aging gin?