A great summertime cocktail has to meet certain criteria to go down as an all-time fave in our books. It’s got to be easy to drink, fresh-tasting, beautiful and a little bit special.
Every year we declare an official cocktail of the summer. Last year it was our Watermelon Raspberry Frosé. This year, it’s got to be this gorgeous mauve creation we’re calling The Empress, because it’s made with Empress 1908 Gin. I mean, just look at how beautiful that colour is. We almost don’t want to drink it and just look at it all day. But we did drink it because, as many of you have already picked up on from reading this blog, gin is our all-time favourite spirit and we could never resist its temptation.
Our love affair with gin runs deep. For those not as enthusiastic about gin, we guarantee you it’s just because you haven’t had the right cocktail. We know a lot of people reach for tonic when they’re having gin (which we greatly encouraged btw) but the flavour of tonic isn’t for everyone. But what’s great about gin is that it’s incredibly versatile. It pairs well with a number of different flavours, including any type of citrus fruit, cucumber, herbs, honey, a ton of different liqueurs and more. It’s also delicious on its own or with a splash of soda. We hear often from those that haven’t yet jumped on the gin bandwagon that it’s too pine-y tasting. To that we say, maybe you haven’t tasted good gin…? A good gin won’t just have one flavour note – it will have many.
What makes The Empress such a special cocktail is that it starts with Empress 1908 Gin, which is hand-crafted by Victoria Distillers in British Columbia (Canada!) and is inspired by the renowned tea and cocktail programs of the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria. And yes, it’s purple – but naturally so. Empress 1908 is micro-distilled in small batch copper-pot stills using eight botanicals (remember what we said about flavour notes? Case in point) – and one of them is butterfly pea blossoms. Derived from a plant that is common to most South East Asian countries, butterfly pea blossoms have a deep indigo colour and a nice earthy flavour. The other seven botanicals are juniper, rose, coriander seed, grapefruit peel, ginger root, cinnamon bark, and the Fairmont Empress Blend Tea. We are here for the flavour of this gin. It’s delicate, smooth and has a ton of depth.
To create The Empress, we added Lillet Blanc, grapefruit juice, simple syrup and plum bitters. And because of the butterfly pea blossoms in the gin, with the addition of citrus or tonic, Empress 1908 transforms from indigo to a light purple or soft pink. Now, that’s a special cocktail.
- 1 oz Empress 1908 Gin
- 1 oz Lillet Blanc
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1 oz grapefruit juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
- Dash of plum bitters (optional), we used Fee Brother’s brand which you can buy here.
- Garnish with edible flowers (also optional, but necessary if you’re looking to impress)
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain into a champagne glass. Another option, if you’re looking for some showmanship in front of your guests, is to add all ingredients to the cocktail shaker except the grapefruit juice and add it in once the rest of the cocktail ingredients have already been strained into the glass. Your guests can then watch the cocktail change colour right before their very eyes. You’ll achieve Monica Geller level hosting praise, we guarantee it. Cheers!