PICON (DRY) – David Embury

1 part French Vermouth

2 parts Amer Picon

1 part Gin

1 dash Orange Bitters to each drink

Stir with cracked ice. A twist of lemon over each drink.

Tonight we had a private cocktail class in the Chelsea Prayer room, the subject was New York Cocktails. The group was a lovely collection of physiotherapists from Kensington, who were great fun to entertain. The Class we do revolves around drinks named after the 5 boroughs, starting with a Manhattan of course. Manhattan is a good starting point as its quite a powerful cocktail, and if it doesn’t go down well then I’ll move the class away from the 5 borough drinks, and into gentler territory (think Cosmopolitan). Perhaps unsurprisingly this happened, I braved a Bronx after the Manhattan, then went crowd pleaser’s and a New York Sour for good measure.

This did mean the bar was set up for a Brooklyn cocktail, so we had pulled out a bottle of Amer Picon from its dust gathering magnificence on the main bar.

The first time I came across Amer was reading Ted Haigh’s book, ‘Vintage Spirits’. I’d never heard about it before, and In my quest to drink through his collection ended up ordering a bottle to be shipped over from France, this would’ve been about 2004, and spirit companies were a little less adventurous then. The drink in question was a Picon Punch, and I was charmed. Amer Picon is an aperitif from Toulon, flavoured with oranges, quinine and gentian root, it has a nice bitterness with underlying orange, and is great drunk by itself.

I never made the Brooklyn, but the bottle stayed in the bar and Ivo, our bartender thought I should try a drink with this in for today. Searching through Embury, and restricting my choice to something short, we came across this drink, the Picon (DRY) in his aromatic wine cocktails section about half way through.

The drink is light, not to boozy as the Picon weighs in at a gentle 21% so very easy to drink. It has a fairly strong cacao / coffee flavour, which wasn’t expected. On the whole this is a great aperitif, versus post work relaxer, and after tasting this we’ll be using the Amer Picon a little more.