We are always on the lookout for good recipes for genever. It shouldn’t be that hard considering that genever is basically Holland gin—the historical predecessor to London Dry styles we normally associate with gin today. Theoretically, just about any gin cocktail should work with genever, but it is a product with a different flavor to which most of us are not accustomed. There is a maltiness to it that changes many classics, and to our taste, the stuff seems difficult to mix. Perhaps we are just used to classics using London dry or modern Plymouth style craft gins. In any case, finding a drink like this is a treat.
Originally made in a larger format (use an entire bottle of genever, three cups of coconut water, 3/4 cups of both lime and syrup, 2-1/4 cups of water and 1/3 ounce of Angostura bitters), you can make a single serving as a swizzle. You may recall that a swizzle is actually a technique rather than a formula for ingredients—the main point being the use of a swizzle stick to spin crushed ice and chill the glass. A bar spoon will also work. Compared to the big batched bowl version, a huge quantity would require you to pre-freeze a quart-sized chunk of ice for the bowl from which you would ladle the punch into cups. Big ice melts slowly which is why the whole-bottle recipe includes a couple cups of plain water for dilution. But as a single serving, the swizzle action coaxes crushed ice to melt fast, and as it does, it super-chills the drink giving you that signature frost on the glass.
Barbadian Gin Punch Swizzle
2 oz genever
2 oz coconut water
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz rich Demerara syrup (2:1)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a tall glass with crushed ice and all ingredients. Swizzle until the glass is frosted.
A proper Tiki swizzle stick has spokes that radiate from one end. These fingers help to swirl the ice so it freezes the glass while mixing, chilling and diluting in one action. It takes a bit more effort with a spoon, but with a swizzle stick, you can roll it between your palms as you rise and fall through the ice so it only takes a minute get the glass nice and frosty. You can buy a proper swizzle stick, but we made our own years ago using some bamboo skewers and a chopstick. We do have an authentic, natural baton lele from Martinique, but our DIY swizzle stick works just as well and it fits nicely into narrow glassware. Don’t let a specialized tool keep you from making this drink though. You could simply shake everything—crushed ice and all—then dump the whole works into a glass and call it good. By the time you are a few sips in, your glass will get frosty.
A punch can utilize any base spirit, but island cocktails in general typically feature rum. A travel book from 1876 described this punch found on Barbados using Holland gin, which David Wondrich wrote about back in 2012 when it appeared in Imbibe Magazine. We saved the reference but never had any coconut water. Now that we are finally trying it, we are glad we did. Genever is not our favorite spirit, but it pairs nicely with the coconut water and lime. The flavor certainly doesn’t disappear, but it’s malty edge is smoother and seems to become less surprising on subsequent sips. The rich simple syrup can’t make this elongated drink overly sweet, but the extra molasses from raw Demerara sugar does add a little depth. The Angostura is apparently optional, but a little spice adds some dimension.
Overall, we appreciate a tasty, historic recipe for a bottle that does not get used very often. We are also pleased to mix up a recipe that uses coconut water and will continue to try some others. Give this one a try and let us know what you think.