The juniper-heavy gin is smooth, balanced and delicious in bright holiday cocktails
Now that the holidays are upon us, we’re not looking for afternoon garden party drinks — we’re after cocktails with a little more punch. And while gin is lovely in all seasons, right now we’re really loving Sipsmith’s V.J.O.P. — that’d be “Very Junipery Over Proof,” clocking in at a whopping 57.7% ABV.
Despite the formidable alcohol, it’s a smooth and balanced spirit. For the Overproof, the London-based distillery actually uses triple the juniper of their classic London Dry Gin. So when you mix the V.J.O.P. into cocktails, even in limited amounts, the juniper comes through loud and clear — which any real gin fan will appreciate. Pick up a bottle for yourself, or for a juniper-phile looking for something new, and give these three cocktails a try.
Easy: Overproof Martinez
Want a stirred drink that puts a little spring in your step? You can absolutely make a martini with overproof gin — but it’ll be pretty aggressive. Instead, we’re opting for a Martinez: that’d be gin plus sweet vermouth, rather than dry.
You’ll generally see Old Tom gin in this cocktail, plus a bit of maraschino, but we find that just stirring equal parts overproof gin and sweet vermouth is lovely — and as simple as a cocktail can be.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of overproof gin and an ounce and a half of sweet vermouth, plus one dash of Angostura bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thick lemon peel, squeezed over the surface of the cocktail to spray its citrus oils over the top of the drink.
Intermediate: Pears & Tonic
Fruity drinks can sometimes drown out gin’s wide range of botanicals, but the V.J.O.P.’s flavor comes through strongly in this simple sour, which we’re topping with tonic for a little sweetness and sparkle. A quick warning: This may be a refreshing and balanced cocktail, but with an ounce and a half of overproof gin, it’ll hit you quickly. Break out that muddler and get ready to party.
Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle 1/4 of a green pear. Add an ounce and a half of overproof gin, plus 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice and half an ounce of simple syrup, as well as ice. Shake until very well-chilled, then double-strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of tonic and give a quick stir. Garnish with a few wedges of fresh pear.
Advanced: The Overproof Sling
The Singapore Sling, first invented, believe it or not, in Singapore, at the Raffles Hotel around 1915, is a classic everyone’s heard of, but few people know the origin of. Today, it’s generally served with pineapple juice and is very, often off-puttingly, sweet. But if you look back into the origins of the Sling — a term which traditionally just signified spirit, sweetener and water — you can get a little creative. Here, we’re upping the gin, and using powerful V.J.O.P. to amp up the juniper flavor; ditching the pineapple, working just with lime; and going a little light on the cherry Heering, heavy on the Angostura bitters.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of overproof gin, an ounce of fresh lime juice, half an ounce of cherry Heering, half an ounce of simple syrup, and three big dashes of Angostura bitters. Shake until very well-chilled, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with an ounce of soda and give a quick stir. Go a little crazy with the garnish; we’re into lime wheels, a few brandied cherries and a super-long, skinny orange peel.