Bols Me Over - Genever Makes Delicious Comeback

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Reintroduction of a Classic - Lucas Bols Genever

That's me, the smitten one.

Start with the fact that Bols Genever is Dutch. (I didn't just visit Amsterdam, had to see more: Aalkmar, Delft, Tessl.) Give me a recipe from 1820, add a Master Distiller (that's him, Piet Van Liejenhorst, holding the antique book). Then make it all about Genever - the grandfather of Gin as we know it today. Why wouldn't I be smitten?

In a wonderful Wednesday event hosted by Drink and Lucas Bols, a group of Boston-area drink enthusiasts were treated to an afternoon that was part history lesson, part cocktail lore, and thoroughly entertaining. Delicious and enlightening, it was a perfect day.

Dave Wondrich, noted cocktail historian was even on hand to share his research on Genever. Turns out, his research on early cocktails aligned with the US launch or reintroduction of the new Bols Genever. All the better for us.

CEO Huub van Doorn calls Bols a "430 year old startup." In 2007 Genever was awarded AOC status solidifying its status as distinct from Gin.

All the early recipes he found in records from ports like Boston and New York were not very tasty. They were made with "Holland Gin" but it wasn't until he dug deeper into the records that he realized "Holland Gin" was Genever. In fact, the records showed that Genever was the predominant "gin" at the time. The gins we know today were a spinoff and this explains the mixability factor Wondrich noticed. The cocktails described were not so tasty because London Dry Gin wasn't the proper base, they were meant to be mixed with Genever. Genever is more akin to a Scotch in that it is based on a maltwine blend. It is a a mash of rye, corn, and wheat, triple-distilled in copper pot stills.

Wondrich, celebrated author and mixologist, recently reaffirmed the importance of Genever in his volume on the evolution of cocktails and life and times of Jerry Thomas, ‘Imbibe!’, referring to Genever as “one of the most seductive potations known to natural science.”

Try a Collins (originally called a John Collins, now know as Tom Collins) or mix up a Holland House, favorite of erudite barflies everywhere - yes Christine, this does mean you.

To celebrate a perfect summer day, I mixed this variation on the Collins:

The "Jamaican Me Crazy"

  • 2 oz Bols Genever
  • 1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 oz Hibiscus (AKA Jamaica) simple syrup

Pour over ice in tall glass, finish with soda water.

Jamaica or Hibiscus has a slightly citrusy flavor, beautiful deep red color and a little viscosity. This is a lovely refreshing summer drink.