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Jace LeGard presents a pair of crowd-pleasing Gin Spritzers at The Boreal House, 330 N. 57th Ave. W. in Duluth. Photo by Alma Jorgenson.
Walking into the Boreal House felt like taking a step out of the busy city life and into a fancy cocktail house deep within the woods.
Jace, the West Duluth-loving bartender, was cooking up both cocktails and nachos. I asked him to make me a drink and he decided to make a crowd favorite, the Gin Spritzer.
This drink started with a very full cup of ice. Then he added Vikre Juniper Gin, grapefruit juice, club soda, simple syrup and lime juice. He poured it into a shaker and gave it a light shake. Then it went back into the cooled cup.
The pour itself was lovely, it created ombré layers that ended in a deep pink from the grapefruit juice. Jace then pulled out a large cardboard box from behind the bar. From the mysterious box he took out a beautiful sprig of rosemary, gave it a very firm and loud slap, then laid it gently in the drink.
The final touch was a generous lime wedge.
Just from looking at the spritzer it was easy to see why the it had become a crowd favorite, it perfectly matched the vibe of the bar.
The dark green from the rosemary and lime matched the dark green walls. The pink ombre liquid reflected the light-colored bricks behind the bar.
The rosemary gave the drink life, it brought out the soft pink of the grapefruit juice and helped bring a visual to the juniper flavor in the gin. I could easily see this drink featured on any hipster’s Instagram page. The presentation was truly 10/10.
I took my first few sips from the straw. The gin was subtle, some might say too subtle. I didn’t really taste the juniper as much as I hoped to. The grapefruit juice paired perfectly without that punchy grapefruit flavor. It added the perfect citrus touch to help the gin shine.
Even folks who don’t like grapefruit would probably appreciate the mix, I got the citrus feel without the bitterness that can accompany grapefruit. The first taste was very smooth and easy and it ended with the sparkle and pop from the club soda. The club soda was very light, which was appreciated. It wasn’t too sweet or bitter.
While the Vikre gin is a dry gin, the grapefruit juice and soda help to bring out the flavor while still keeping the drink as a whole, smooth.
I could see myself drinking something like this a little too quickly after a long day in the hot sun. It was wonderfully refreshing.
The drinking experience was elevated when I took my straw out and simply sipped it. This is when the juniper from the gin got to shine.
Smelling the juniper and rosemary together transported me right to a warm summer day in a coniferous forest.
Angling the lime and rosemary toward my nose when sipping created an experience that tingles both smell and taste, mixing both the tropical and the forest biomes in your nose and mouth.
A drink like this needs to be sipped from the glass with no straw; this helps the aromas bring out the hidden flavors bringing it to the next level.
I would have liked to have less ice and taste more of the Juniper Gin. Being a Gin Spritzer, the gin doesn’t need to be subtle. It is okay for it to pack a punch. Especially when it has a unique infusion such as the juniper.
I would have loved to taste the juniper as much as I could smell it. The rosemary could also have been used a little more. Something more than a firm slap could really help bring out that sage-like flavor, which would have also helped bring out the juniper more.
Using Vikre’s Juniper Gin was the best decision they made when designing this cocktail. Being distilled right here in Duluth with locally foraged juniper will remind any drinker they are in the lovely city of Duluth.
The mix of grapefruit and club soda really keeps it smooth. The Boreal House’s Gin Spritzer is a West Duluth summertime favorite.
This is a drink that you keep drinking all night, so I had another and finally allowed myself to dream of warmer Minnesota days that are right around the corner.