Robin Wolf, who runs the bar at The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar in Paso Robles, California, started experimenting with infusing vermouths in order to introduce new flavors without adding sugars. In this Martini variation, dried rose petals heighten the floral aromatics of Lillet blanc.
For the base of the cocktail, Wolf calls for an “aromatic gin.” Generally, that refers to a gin with more than just a strong juniper presence, especially those with heavily floral notes that would complement the rose-infused Lillet blanc. The most obvious of these is Hendrick’s, which has remained a popular gin for decades now due to its floral, cucumber aromatics. But there are others: The Botanist, from Islay in Scotland, offers a bouquet of 22 botanicals including clover, heather, chamomile, wood sage and lemon balm; St. George’s Terroir Gin from Alameda, California, evokes the coastal wilds of California with coastal sage, Douglas fir and California bay laurel; and Empress 1908 gin has elements of rose and citrus, though its blue color might make the Killer Queen murky.
Lillet blanc is a bittersweet aperitif based on a now-lost historic liqueur called Kina Lillet; its most famous application is in James Bond’s signature Martini, the Vesper. Those who want their drink a bit more bitter and a touch less sweet could, instead, use Cocchi Americano, a similar kind of fortified wine that is likely more historically accurate to Kina Lillet in that it includes quinine, the ingredient that adds the telltale bitterness to tonic water. Either way, it needs 24 hours to be infused with dried rose petals.
For a bit of sweetness and some additional botanical depth, the drink also gets a quarter ounce of Benedictine. This brandy-based herbal spirit is made with a closely guarded secret recipe that includes 27 herbs and spices, and is sweetened with honey. Because of its assertive nature, a little goes a long way when adding it to drinks, so don’t use more than is called for.
Finally, the drink gets four full dashes of Angostura bitters. As dashes can vary in volume depending on the amount left in the bottle, use a careful hand, and taste before adding too much. You can always add more, but you can’t take any out.
- 2 ounces aromatic gin
- 3/4 ounce dried-rose-infused Lillet blanc*
- 1/4 ounce Benedictine
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a coupe.
Express the oil from a lemon twist over the drink, and garnish with the twist.
*Dried-rose-infused Lillet: Add 2 cups Lillet Blanc and 1 tablespoon dried rose petals into a jar and seal. Leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours, shaking the jar several times during that time. Strain through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Keeps, refrigerated, for up to one month.