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Golden Dawn

As the cooler months of autumn begin to replace the summer's heat, we often think of cocktails made with apples and darker spirits. So often, the drinks we post here at Summit Sips are either spirit-driven, bitter, or they end up balanced slightly toward the sour side of the spectrum. Here's a drink that will appeal to those of you who like something a little sweeter looking for a pleasant sipper as the leaves change. There are several versions of the Golden Dawn which originated around 1930, but this one seems to be the most interesting because it retains a depth of flavor while keeping the sugar under control. It comes to us by way of Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up, a risqué cocktail book first published in 1951. It's also one of those drinks that gets away with exactly equal proportions.

Golden Dawn
.75 oz Calvados
.75 oz gin
.75 oz apricot brandy
.75 oz orange juice
real pomegranate grenadine

Add all to shaker except the grenadine. Shake to chill, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a stemless cherry and drizzle a little grenadine through to the bottom of the drink.

If nothing else, this drink looks beautiful with the cherry at the bottom and the grenadine hinting at a sunrise, but we wouldn't make a cocktail for looks alone. It has to taste good, and the Golden Dawn fulfills that requirement too. We normally find that orange juice falls somewhat flat in a mixed drink. It just doesn't have the same brightness of citrus champions like lemon or lime. Even grapefruit juice can work a little magic, but orange? Despite having a wonderful peel for fantastic garnishes, orange juice rarely plays more than a casual role in most classics that call for it. Using freshly squeezed helps brighten up the drink a bit.

We can forgive the orange juice because our base spirits are singing a duet. The combination of gin and Calvados uplifts orange's shortcomings, and the apricot bolsters against any questions of inadequacy. It's a nice combination that could also survive a little substitution. You might pull the Calvados and replace it with Applejack without any ill effects, and the other items seem ripe for experimentation. The small amount of good grenadine will bring just a hint of floral fruitiness, but it's primarily there to add color.

In our example, we used Boulard Calvados paired with Gin Mare, an absolutely wonderful "Mediterranean-styled" gin which is produced in a small village in Spain and features botanicals sourced from around the Mediterranean including olive, thyme, basil, and of course, juniper. This isn't meant to be a spirit review, but if you happen to have a sister living in Spain, by all means, ask her to send you some! We also used Rothman and Winter's Orchard Apricot and our own homemade grenadine. The images feature this cocktail served in a gorgeous silver-rimmed V-shaped coupe.

2 comments to Golden Dawn

  • Paul

    Hi Randy ! I have aqcuired a bottle of Gin Mare, and I have also bought some other gins like the Austrian Blue Gin, G Vine Nouaison Gin, Old English Gin, Hendrick's Gin, Hayman's Old Tom Gin and Geranium Gin. Some sources prefer drinking their gins neat but I think I would enjoy them better in a mixed drink, but when should one use the standard gins like Tanqueray, Plymouth, Beefeater, Gordon's, and when should you use the more expensive ones ? I guess it really depends on how exclusive you want to make your drink, but I am also a bit concerned that the nuances which are typical for a gin will get lost with all the other ingredients. A gin and tonic might be a good place to start ?

    • Unfortunately, my bottle of Gin Mare is gone! That tends to happen with the good stuff. A friend of mine sent me a bottle of Solveig Gin brewed by Far North Spirits back where I used to live in Minnesota. That gin is a delicious sipper. It's interesting that historically anyway, it's the only spirit that you don't see people drinking neat. Perhaps that is changing.

      As for when to use them in cocktails, I tend to use a premium brand in drinks that feature the gin like Martinis or drinks where the other components are less total volume. Cheaper brands work well in in other drinks that need a stronger flavor to stand up to everything else. Use your best judgement. You are right, some of the subtle nuances would be lost in many mixed drinks making such recipes bad ones for premium gins.

      There are exceptions where the gin adds something unique. Ransom Old Tom gin has a unique cardamom flavor that is simply amazing in the Martinez.

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