At first glance after making the Green Deacon, you might be wondering where it got its name from. This gin concoction comes out vividly orange thanks to the addition of grapefruit juice and sloe gin, not green. But its creator, bartending veteran behind New York City’s PDT and Portland, Oregon’s Takibi, Jim Meehan, has a story for how the drink got its name.
The drink’s history begins with a little-known cocktail called the Rosy Deacon, which was found in the “Stan Jones Bar Guide”. It calls for a mix of London dry gin, sloe gin and grapefruit juice. Sloe gin is an English spirit made with a gin base, then flavored with the astringent, tart sloe berries that grow wildly throughout England. They give it the bright red color and tart flavors, which are balanced with added sweetener for a very different flavor than traditional gin. It’s most famous application is in a Sloe Gin Fizz.
Meehan created the Green Deacon when Plymouth introduced its sloe gin to the United States. “This one was created when Plymouth Sloe Gin became available, many years after I’d begged Simon Ford [of Ford’s Gin and previous Plymouth brand ambassador] and Pernod Ricard to import it to the US,” Meehan says. His tweak to the drink was simple but dramatic: a rinse of absinthe, which at the time of the drink’s creation had just returned to the US for the first time since Prohibition. “Absinthe was still a popular ingredient back then—as it had just been legalized in 2007—and a friend named J.C. Iglesias suggested I add a rinse of it to the classic Rosy Deacon cocktail I’d served him,” Meehan explains. “We named the Rosy Deacon variation the Green Deacon to delineate the difference the rinse made to the original formula.”
Because of the particularities of its ingredients, it’s not recommended to substitute another dry gin or sloe gin. If you’re really set on creating the Green Deacon at home, it’s advisable to stick with Plymouth for both, as that’s what his drink is balanced around. The absinthe, however, is more versatile as it only rinses the glass. Meehan suggests using one from St. George, a celebrated Californian distillery.
While the grapefruit garnish might look a bit funny in a small cocktail glass, it’s all part of the presentation and the drink’s charm.
- Absinthe (such as St. George), to rinse
- 1 1/2 ounces Plymouth gin
- 3/4 ounce Plymouth sloe gin
- 1 ounce grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: 1 grapefruit wedge
Rinse a chilled cocktail or coupe glass with absinthe and set aside.
Add the Plymouth gin, Plymouth sloe gin and grapefruit juice into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into the prepared glass.
Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.