The seasons are changing on us. I know that technically it has been spring for some time, but this week, you can feel it. The flowers have been blooming for awhile, but suddenly the trees are all budding and putting out new growth and my lawn is going crazy. Plus, I’ve been able to drive home in the afternoon and to baseball practice, with the sunroof open, the windows down and the radio up. I am just saying that you can feel the change in the air, spring has definitely sprung. So, in honor of changing times, won’t you join me now as we stand and make, the Fin de Siécle.
Translated directly from the French “Fin de Siécle” literally means “end of the century” but it is bigger than that. It also refers to the end of one era and the beginning of another, that transitional time. This drink rose to prominence as the 19th century world slowly transformed into the “modern” age of the 20th century and , as cocktails go, the drink reflects that. In the 1800’s cocktails tended to be a bit sweeter as an alternative to just drinking alcohol straight, or to help soften some of the higher proof whiskeys, gins and brandies of the day. As cocktails became more popular across the culture in the 20th century they tended to dry out a bit with the addition of vermouths and bitters entering the scene. So this one is a little bit sweet a little bit bitter. Bittersweet, as the kids and Kevin Smith would say. One thing is certain it is a drink that deserves a place on the menu in the 21st century.
Sticking with that whole “make hay while the sun shines” thing, we are going with another drink that features Amer Picon or, more accurately, that amazing house made “Amer Ticon” from Atlanta’s famed Ticonderoga Club. Grab your mixing pitcher and toss in 1 1/2 ounces of gin, I opted for Xoriguer de Mahon; 3/4 of an ounce of sweet vermouth, I chose Gallo; 1/4 ounce of Amer Picon and 2 stabs of Regan’s Orange Bitters. Add ice and give it a good stir to the beat of “Turn of the Century” by another under appreciated treasure, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. When well chilled strain into some fancy French stemware and garnish with an expressed orange peel, if you want to cut it into a shooting star tail that’ll be just fine.
It’s light and airy at the beginning and bitter on the finish, like a proper art film projected on the side of a rambling building, presented by a fellow or lady, as your preference dictates, wearing a striped top, smoking a Gaouloise, while leaning against a streetlight along the Seine. It’s complicated, but in an entirely expected way. This drink has actually got a lot going for it and I am glad I got the opportunity to play with this Amer Ticon some more. Just like the Brooklyn and the Bywater, everything we have made with it has been surprisingly lovely.
We’ve all been coming out off hibernation a bit this year, at least it feels like that. We’ve been carefully going back out into the world a little more. We took a short road trip and have met friends at the park for picnic dinners with a lot more ease than I expected. I understand that the vaccines are not a panacea, but it does ease my mind to know that we have some protections for ourselves, and more importantly, from unknowingly infecting someone else. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t quite ready for primetime, but the boy is playing baseball this year and I am coaching and we are enjoying being with friends again, even if things are a bit different now. We need people and I am thankful for this period of transition when we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as long as we all do our parts. You do yours and stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.