With an unmatched array of botanicals, this gin is unbelievably complex.
As gins go, Monkey 47 is a bit of an outlier. Bartenders often reach for a classic London Dry, or a local American brand; this German-made gin is neither. Gins are distilled with flavor-rich botanicals, which generally number 12 or fewer; Monkey 47 uses an incredible, wait for it, forty-seven. Most gins in the States are sold in standard 750ml bottles; Monkey 47 generally comes in a dainty 375ml, which retails up around $40 or above.
But there’s a reason that bartenders go nuts for the stuff. The array of botanicals is unmatched — from traditional juniper and lavender, to fresh citrus peel and lingonberry, to wildly unusual ingredients like spruce shoots and bramble leaves foraged from the Black Forest, where the distillery is located.
The result is a gin that’s almost unbelievably complex, evolving over and over on the tongue, moving from bright citrus to delicate florals to gently spiced pepper. But gin, of course, is always better in cocktails. Monkey 47 is delicious in a classic gin-and-tonic (or half-tonic, half-soda), but just as compelling in these three original cocktails below.
Monkey & Cherries
Cherries are prized in the Black Forest (ever heard of Black Forest cake?) but not always easy to find in every season. So I reached for a tart cherry juice — look for brands that are 100 percent cherry juice only, not cut with grape — and combined it with lemon, soda, and a good dose of Monkey 47. The gin still cuts through strongly, but against a pleasant tart-fruity backdrop. Perfect early evening drink.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of Monkey 47, half an ounce of 100% tart cherry juice, a quarter-ounce fresh lemon juice, and half an ounce of simple syrup. Shake until very well-chilled, and strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with an ounce of soda, stir briefly, and garnish with some lemon wheels and a few Luxardo cherries.
This martini breaks all my personal martini rules. It’s heavy on the gin and light on the vermouth, rather than my standard 2:1. I’m not using orange bitters, as the gin has bitter and citrus elements of its own. Finally, I’m using an olive as a garnish, for just a little hint of the savory. The result is so smooth and multifaceted that it may be my new martini of choice. The gin-soaked olive alone is a reason to stir up this drink.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine two and a half ounces of Monkey 47 and half an ounce of dry vermouth (I’m partial to Dolin). Stir until very well-chilled — between 45 seconds and a minute — and then strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe. Garnish with a good olive (like a Castelvetrano) and a lemon twist, spritzed over the top to release its citrus oils.
The citrus element of Monkey 47 is unmistakable. So this recipe plays up that citrus with ruby-red grapefruit juice, with a bit of honey to sweeten and bubbles to finish, because isn’t everything better with bubbles?
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of Monkey 47, 3/4 ounce fresh ruby red grapefruit juice, and half an ounce of honey syrup (that’s just honey cut 1:1 with hot water and stirred until dissolved). Shake until very well-chilled, and strain into a coupe. Top with an ounce of sparkling wine and garnish with a long grapefruit twist, spritzed over the top to release its citrus oils.