The Winchester

September 22nd, 2009

It’s no secret I’m not a huge fan of Tiki drinks. Though perhaps that isn’t quite the right way to put it. It’s not so much that I actively dislike Tiki drinks, rather that I loath the effort and involvement that goes in to making them. Four freshly squeezed juices here, two home-made syrups there, combined with a dizzying array of obscure rums. The result is often very good – but compared to some very simple but stunningly good cocktails? The effort/reward ratio just doesn’t stack up in my opinion.

With that said if a drink really stands out I am willing to make the effort, and The Winchester certainly stood out when I first saw it over at The Chanticleer Society. Named after Traveling Mixologist and Tanqueray brand ambassador Angus Winchester, The Winchester was created by Brian Miller of Death & Co. in New York. His attempt at a Gin Zombie, the drink has all the typical Tiki traits – various citrus juices, a spiced syrup, and three base spirits – with one key difference… it doesn’t use rum.

I love rum as much as the next cocktail geek (well, perhaps not some), but gin has a special place in my heart so a cocktail that uses three different types immediately stood out. A big part of many Tiki recipes is the balancing of several types of rum to produce a new base flavour that combines the best of the separate spirits. Applying this technique to gin sounded too intriguing to pass up…

The Winchester cocktail

The Winchester

View in: oz | ml | shots

The Winchester is a real explosion of flavours. The various gins combine to produce a delicious juniper base which is accented perfectly by the surrounding flavours. The sour citrus is impeccably balanced by the sweet florals of the grenadine and St. Germain, with the ginger syrup bringing a lively spice that really brightens up the drink. If it sounds like I’m gushing it’s because I am – while it requires a little extra effort compared to some more simple cocktails, it’s worth it. Perhaps this drink will finally convince me to spend a little more time and effort on exploring Tiki.

If I’ve not convinced you on The Winchester, Tiare and The Bum also agree. And lord knows they are much better judges on Tiki than I!

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Posted in Aromatic Bitters, Gin, Grapefruit, Grenadine, Lime, St. Germain

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13 responses to “The Winchester”

  1. Tiare Tiare says:

    Wooohoo Jay! a tiki drink post! and you choosed a very intriguing drink that i just have to be able to make which tells me i just GOT to find the Westbourne Strength while i`m in London.Its sold there right?

    GREAT picture jay and fun garnish.


  2. SeanMike SeanMike says:

    Any suggestions for a Westbourne sub?

  3. Paul Paul says:

    DAMN YOU JAY! I photographed this drink last weekend (my photo looked a bit, er, different from yours), and I was preparing to write a post about it … well, whenever I got around to it. But now you’ve beat me to it! I may still post about it, though — damn nice drink.

    And if you’re as lazy as I am, you can skip the ginger syrup step and instead use simple syrup but throw a couple of slices of fresh ginger in the mixing tin and give them a brief muddle, then proceed. My ginger syrup always loses its spark way before I’ve finished it, so I got tired of throwing it out and instead do this more often, with a fine strain to keep those little bits out of the glass.

  4. the modern serf the modern serf says:

    I once made a drink for a hendrick’s contest that was basically the love child of a zombie and a pimm’s cup. gin, surprisingly, substitutes really well for rum in lots of sours; usually even better than other barrel-aged spirits.

  5. Ruben Ruben says:

    Hooray, I can actually make this drink with the exception of MM Westbourne Strength! That Gin is slightly floral, isn’t it? Any good substitution? Would G’Vine Nouaison do?

  6. Jay Jay says:

    T – Yes, we have Westbourne here. I’m sure we can find you some when you’re here :)

    SeanMike, Ruben – Hmmm, Westbourne is pretty unique, let me have a think and get back to you about substitutions.

    Paul – Heh, I’ve been meaning to write about this for weeks, and kept putting it off. When I saw Jeff and Tiare blog about it I wished I’d been quicker off the mark. I think the drink is good enough to warrant at least one more post though!

    Great tip on the ginger syrup. I’ve been doing exactly that ever since Rick wrote about it. Much easier than going to the effort of making a syrup that as you say, dulls very quickly.

    the modern serf – Sounds interesting. Got the recipe?

  7. Blair, aka Trader Tiki Blair, aka Trader Tiki says:

    Nice Jay! I’ve been wanting to hear more about this drink ever since rumors of it reached me.

    I’ll be in NYC soon, wonder if I’ll be able to get one at Death & Co.


  8. Ruben Ruben says:

    Tried it and hell yes! I agree aswell that this is a great tiki style drink… Thanks for sharing. I’ll do the same if you don’t mind:

  9. Matt Robold (RumDood) Matt Robold (RumDood) says:

    I’ve tried the Winchester before, and it helped me remember that Tiki is not all about rum (though it rightfully is still MOSTLY about rum). It’s a fantastic drink that really captures the tiki/tropical drink idea while going away from rum and oddly back to Tiki’s original roots when Don The Beach used to use a lot of gin.

    It actually inspired me to try a few similar ideas, including one I’ve been working on since the Tiki TDN a while ago using 3 different vermouths.

  10. Have Shaker Will Travel – The Manhattan Cocktail Classic « Garret J. Awesome says:

    [...] Mojito known as the Old Cuban, and Death & Company with is next generation gin zombie known as the Winchester have all changed the face of contemporary bartending. New York would be a natural fit for a new [...]

  11. We live in a complex world … The Winchester Cocktail | theSpeakista says:

    [...] Winchester Recipe sourced from Jay’s Oh Gosh blog based on the original created by Brian Miller at Death & Co. and adapted by [...]

  12. Rumless Tiki Drinks | The Scotch Zombie says:

    [...] cocktail creation with inspiration drawn from several sources including the Zombie Punch and the Winchester Cocktail (the later created by Brian Miller at Death & [...]

  13. Union Jack Cocktail | Eleven Madison Park says:

    [...] aged madness.  Even now as I write this I’m craving the amazing feeling I had when I tried the Winchester; the first time I understood what a Mai Tai (Zombie, Jet Pilot, etc) truly was; and I can taste the [...]

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