Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Genever returns to the bar

Ever had genever? You've probably had gin, but it's likely you haven't had genever. The Dutch/Belgian version of gin, the earliest form of commercial gin, has not been popular in America for centuries -- a damned shame, cuz genever is good stuff. It's grainy, it's got more body than gin, it's not as piney as gin, and mostly, you drink it straight up, and you know...I like that.

That's me on the left, liking it, having a Belgian genever at 't Dreupelkot in Ghent last spring. They serve it so full, right up to the very brim, that you kind of have to take that first sip right off the bar, and then pick up the glass. That's their genever menu on the bar beside the glass; you can see how many genevers they have...and that's just one side of the menu.

I don't remember if they had Bols Genever or not. 't Dreupelkot is the kind of place that might not have Bols because it's too ubiquitous (and too Dutch...). Bols claims to be the oldest spirit brand in the world, though they've kind of hidden their genever light under a basket in the U.S.; I knew Bols as a bottler of blue curaçao, the bright blue, orange-flavored liqueur that was an ingredient in a drink we called "Tidi-Bols," along with a depth charge-sized slug of vodka and 7-Up to top up. Anything to get drunk, back in those hazy post-college days.

But Bols has been making genever since 1820, and they've brought it back to the U.S. recently, with a big launch in New York and San Francisco. They're pushing it as a cocktail ingredient, and I'm sure it's a good one. But I hear people put bourbon in cocktails, too, and that's never impressed me much either. Okay, maybe a little. But I'd rather just drink the stuff.

I remember talking with Steve Beaumont at Dreupelkot, as we sipped genevers and watched people "eat" advocaat, a kind of booze pudding made from brandy, eggs, sugar, and flavorings. The bar had a crazy rainbow of flavored advocaats, and you get a little cup and eat it with a utensil that looks something like the plastic coffee stirrers you get at McDonald's. We were both thinking that a genever and advocaat bar would be a can't-miss proposition in Manhattan...which probably proves how many genevers we'd had. Still...genever and booze pudding? I think we might have been right. With this Bols launch, maybe we'll find out.

19 comments:

JP said...

Dutch courage

Lew Bryson said...

Classically so!

Except in this case, it was Belgian courage...

JP said...

Advocaat is good stuff mixed with Coffee on a cold day. Here in Pennsylvania you can buy bottled PA Dtuch eggnog at the state store which is pretty close. Also if you dig Jenever check out Dutch Korenwijn

Lew Bryson said...

Got a bottle of korenwijn on the shelf, you bet. Definitely different; 'separate but equal.'

JP said...

yeah to me it is like refined high-end dutch moonshine. Not as floral as Dutch gin but good just the same .Also comes in those cool stone bottles which is like half the allure for me. Also the Blue Curacao I had no idea that is was supposed to be citrus flavored. How does something orange-like end up blue?

Bill said...

In 1990 or so, I bought a bottle of Bols genever. I had been reading the Dutch cop novels by Janwillem van de Wetering and was entranced by the genever bars. I enjoyed it, kind of understood its lineage to gin, and then forgot about it until this year -- some paper did a story, and now you. I might have to try it again, hopefully at a bar that keeps it cool or cold.

Lew Bryson said...

Bill, I had heard about genever for years, and then my wife and I got invited to a colleague's house for rijstaffel, cooked by her Dutch husband. It was delish, and at the end of the meal, he asked what I'd like to drink. I asked if he had genever, and his face lit up...and so did mine, after three cold glasses!

JP...it's blue coloring, of course, but why? Beats the hell out of me. To make it more "tropical"?

Matt Thenhaus said...

I think Bols curacao was colored blue during an 80's blue hawaiian craze.

Ed Carson said...

To possibly start you on a rant: Do you think the "fine" "intelligent" "folks" at the PLCB will carry it?

Lew Bryson said...

Hey, it's not whiskey, so chances are at least fair!

Tomas said...

Lew if you like the taste/feel of Jeneever you mght be interested in checking out some Borovicka (juniper schnaps from Slovakia)

Lew Bryson said...

I'm interested in any damn kind of schnapps -- at least once -- but where might one find this stuff near Philadelphia? Chicago? Milwaukee? Inquiring minds want to know!

Lee Botschaner said...

I have a bottle up here in Harrisburg. I know of a clandestine bottle at a restaurant in brooklyn but you gotta speak slovak to get at it. Other'n that you are pretty much out of luck, not sold in the USA.

If you like gin, this is the essence. Great stuff. I drink it sparingly knowing I may not get another bottle for a while.

Tomas said...

Not sure outside of Europe. Maybe some specialty shop in NYC or some ethnic fraternal club. It is even greasier than jenever but I like it once and a while.Next time I am there will try to snag you a half pint for a taste. Jelnick is the big distiller but there is plenty of small batch and homemade production as well. Another one I like as I am sure you do too is German/Dutch Kümmel

fr bob van deusen said...

Lww

looks another item that the PLCB ( bad word) will stock

Lee Botschaner said...

Tomas Polincia-- Brooklyn Mary says it is NOT available in New York City anywhere (other than the restaurant I mentioned earlier, and it's not "really" available there).

cmyk said...

I spent a great deal of time at De Vagant in Antwerp when living overseas in the 90s. I was there earlier this year and among all the great beer I revisited my jenever-swilling years. Love the stuff. I really wish it was available in the USA. For now, I will have to pick up the odd bottle in my European travels.

bill mc said...

Ok, stupid question here, is this stuff (Genever) available in PA, NY or NJ (and if so, whereabouts)? I'm heading that way in a week and would be interested in trying it.

Veronique said...

Genever lovers! Belgian Genever is now for sale in the US for the first time in US history. Discover Diep 9 Genever, handcrafted in Belgium's smallest active grain distillery from all natural ingredients. Available in fruit & flavors. Enjoy!
www.diep9.com