The 55º Cocktail
Today’s cocktail is an original from New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian of Bar UnCommon, and it’s my favorite of his. “I don’t really come up with that many originals,” he said (although I’ve had several), “but I think this one might be the best yet.”
It’s deceptively simple — only two ingredients in a simple proportion — but what a pair of ingredients … oh so complex.
First off, Old Raj Gin. There are two that you’ll see on your spirits store shelves if you’re lucky — one at 92 proof and the other at 110, the more common of the two and the one you want. Despite its alcoholic heft it’s quite smooth and has no burn, juniper present but not overly forward, plenty of citrus and earthy spices. The straw-yellow tint comes from a bit of saffron among the botanicals, but the saffron is very subtle and understated.
Next, our old friend Chartreuse of the green variety, an herbal knockout also at a hefty 110 proof. The alcohol-by-volume in these combined ingredients is, as you may have noticed, 55%, hence the name of the drink. These two powerful ingredients combine with that delightful cocktailian alchemy into a very well-balanced, highly sippable drink in which the herbal onslaught of the Chartreuse is stretched, rounded and balanced by the gin and its own herb-and-spice profile. What you might think would be over the top is anything but, and might be just the thing to offer a Martini drinker who might be looking for something a bit more exotic for his or her next drink.
You knocked this one out of the park, Chris … thanks!
The 55º Cocktail
(by Chris McMillian, Bar UnCommon, New Orleans)
1-1/2 ounces Old Raj Gin, blue label.
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse.
Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.