kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

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Juniper meets tart and tangy: Averell's Damson Gin

Damson-Plum_3 Producer D.H. Krahn, who makes one of my fave gins, a small batch spirit flavored with juniper, several citrus, coriander and Thai ginger, is now sourcing fruit from the Finger Lakes region, and bottling the resulting spirit under the name Averell's Damson Gin.

For those who are unfamiliar with this fruit, the damson is an ancient plum related to the sloe, introduced to the United States by early European settlers. It's pretty unpalatable by itself--very tart and spicy--but the damson is delish when reduced, sweetened and bottled into preserves, jellies, sauces--and gin.

Admittedly, I have never been a fan of sloe gin--even the Plymouth product, which I think is the best on the market--is a tad too sweet for me. Like sloe gins, damson gins are typically home made affairs--distilled in September when the fruit is harvested, bottled and stored until the holidays, where they are enjoyed during celebrations and given as guests. D.H. Krahn c0-founder Scott Krahn points out that many damson-based spirits have a high sugar content, but his product possesses more of an intense, zingy fruit flavor. “You can always add sweet to a cocktail,” he says.

I definitely agree, and love that mouthwatering, zesty flavor. I tried it for the first time a few days ago, neat, not even chilled, and it was beyond palatable. I can totally see myself enjoying a small glass as a cordial after dinner.

The gin's botanical profile has juniper, citrus and coriander--all of which complement the knobby fruit--and the color is a beautiful shade of crimson. Of course, beyond sipping it solo, Averell's is perfect in a fizz and in other cocktails. Averell’s Damson Gin was previewed at Tales of the Cocktail this year, will be distributed nationally by Haus Alpenz Imports, and retails for $34.99 for a 750 mL bottle. Oh, and it doesn't release until October 1. Make a note on your calendar, because this stuff is good.

Damson Gin Fizz 1 1/2 oz. Averell's Damson Gin 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice 1 tsp. superfine sugar Club soda Fresh berries in season, for garnish

Add first three ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass, and top with club soda. Garnish with fresh berries in season.

Damson in Distress 1 1/2 oz. Averell's Damson Gin 1 lime, cut into wedges Handful of fresh blueberries

Muddle lime and blueberries in a rocks glass. Add Damson Gin and crushed ice, and stir.