I'm a gin girl. Gin and Ginger, Gin and Sin, Pink Gin, Greyhound, Gin and Tonic -- I love them all. Yet despite that, up until a year ago I was unknowingly depriving myself of an entire world of gins. Sticking primarily with Tanqueray, I treated myself every once in awhile to cold, elegantly aquamarine bottles of Bombay Sapphire. It was my gin of indulgence. However, everything changed when I discovered a whole nother country of gin. Forget the Brit brands, I suddenly found myself swimming in premium gins in my own Californian backyard. First there was Gin 209, then Junipero, and now, a new gin.
New to me, Sarticious Gin is locally made in Santa Cruz by Jeff Alexander.
Two years ago, Peggy Townsend wrote a piece on the Sarticious guys for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and she explains where the crazy name came from:
It comes from this time Alexander is up in Alaska drinking, watching the Northern Lights and listening to this song by some guys called Dead Can Dance. And even though these dancing dead guys are singing about "her surreptitious smile," he hears them say "sarticious smile."
Then, when this Alexander guy can't figure out what in the heck "sarticious" means, he decides it's like if the word "sartorial" and "luscious" got together and had a baby and it would be "sarticious," which sounds like something you'd like.
How completely out-of-control awesome is that? Naming a gin because of a "Wrapped up like a douche" moment? I love these guys already!
I took one sip of Mathra's lovingly made Sarticious gin and tonic and breathed, "Citrus!" Kim -- the one responsible for taking our Sarticious virginity -- thinks it tastes like pine. Mathra thinks it tastes like Granny Smith apples. All reactions are true and valid ones, and now, after a brief scurry to BevMo and a slap-down of $30.00, I am a proud pourer of this amazingly fresh and complex gin.
Gin makers are notoriously secretive about what all goes into their gin. Other than the usual juniper berries, there is a dizzying swirl of botanticals that all conspire, flirt, and whisper behind painted fans to perfume the gin with their ethereal souls. Bombay Sapphire has tactile white etchings down one smooth side of the gem-like bottle. Run the tip of your finger over each rough botantical representation -- both in words and sketch -- and you will learn that Bombay Sapphire gin contains angelica, grains of paradise, lemon, licorice, almonds, orris root, coriander, cassia bark, and cubeb berries. The secret is how they are all balanced.
Sarticious, on the other hand, will only reveal that their gin contains "the artful blend of the best juniper berries, organic orange and cilantro, and other fresh botanicals." Very well, you can keep your cool shadowy shroud, Sarticious, for all I require is a moonstone of your gin in my glass. That is my satisfaction.
And just in case a single sip of this taste bud-smacking gin isn't recommendation enough, Alexander has liquor chops that run very deep -- he has made wine, beer, and even made Hanger 1 vodka at St. George Spirits back in the day.
The spare Sarticious site has a list of recipes, but quite frankly, the only accompaniment Sarticious needs is a few ice cubes and a splash of really good tonic water. More on that next week.
Sarticious Gin Distillery
427A Swift Street
Santa Cruz, CA
Sarticious Spirits is open for wine and gin tasting from noon-5pm, Friday-Sunday.