May 21st, 2011 was a beautiful day. Friends and family came together in celebration of our love and commitment, yadda yadda yadda. May 21st was the day that two much loved guests placed in our care the components of what is easily the best Martini I have ever had.
Leopold Brothers is a small batch distillery located in Denver Colorado, which produces several different spirits and liqueurs. Almost all of their products have won at least one award, and Leopold’s Gin is no slacker.
Many top-shelf gins shy away from the traditional juniper flavoring (see also: Hendrick’s, Bluecoat), particularly because low quality brands will use the juniper as a crutch. This is certainly not a bad trait; Hendrick’s and Bluecoat have their own unique flavor bouquets. In contrast to this strategy though, Leopold’s Gin has cultivated a fine balance of flavors that allows the juniper to take prominence, without overpowering the citrus and floral notes that fill out the palate.
Leopold Brothers doesn’t bother distinguishing itself as a unique or exotic gin. Instead it’s just a tremendously well-made gin, and that in itself is admirable.
Dolin Dry Vermouth
Often neglected, there’s a secret about vermouth that most people don’t know: it’s actually a fortified wine. Of course it’s not really a secret, but while a bartender might spend hundreds on the best gins, vermouth is very often overlooked. Though Martini & Rossi and Tribuno are the budget standards, these tend to have a flat, tinny flavor with a salty aftertaste. Dolin is the first vermouth I’ve had that actually tastes like wine. The flavor of Dolin Dry Vermouth is rich and floral with a tremendous depth and complexity, enough to make Dolin worth sipping on its own.
In fact, Shanna and I enjoyed Dolin so much that we jumped on an opportunity to pick up a bottle of their Blanc sweet vermouth while we were visiting family in Annapolis. (They also offer a red – or Rouge – sweet vermouth.) But there’s the problem: neither Leopold Brothers nor Dolin are offered in Pennsylvania liquor stores. And since the PA Liquor Control Board by law owns and operates all retail sales of liquor and wine in the state, it’s not just a matter of finding the right hole-in-the-wall shop. There is literally no legal way to purchase any Leopold Brothers spirits in the state of Pennsylvania, and Dolin vermouths have to be special ordered.
We’ll write more about the liquor and beer laws in Pennsylvania in the future, especially in the context of the newly-proposed legislation to change those laws. But for now suffice it to say that the last drops of our bottle of Leopold’s Gin, which went into two delicious Martinis, will be sorely missed until the next time our travels take us out of state.