The Alaska

We are getting to the official end of winter, so it’s my last opportunity for a while to talk about the Alaska, an icy cold and crisp Martini alternative.

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2 1/4 oz London dry gin | 3/4 oz yellow Chartreuse | dash each Fee Brothers  and Regan’s orange bitters | stir on ice | strain into chilled cocktail glass | lemon twist garnish

I had my first Alaska a few months ago at Bankers’ Hill where Christian Siglin (formerly of Craft & Commerce) has been heading the bar since last year. I was aware of the drink after reading about it in the Savoy Cocktail book, but did not have a bottle of yellow chartreuse at home to play with at the time. The waitress cautioned me strongly when I placed my order (“it’s a GIN martini that you should only order if you really like GIN. Really it’s just GIN with just a touch of chartreuse and bitters “- like it was a bad thing!). I lied a little and said that I was a (home) bartender so she would let me order it.

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Alaska cocktail (right) at Bankers’ Hill

Anyway, I really like this cocktail. It is excellent alternative to a Martini when you want to taste the subtleties of a very nice gin. Green chartreuse would probably not work very well in this cocktail because it would overpower everything. The yellow chartreuse which is milder in flavor and lower proof is a much better fit.

The gin I used is a London dry distilled in the middle of London by Sipsmith. It has the typical profile of a London dry with strong juniper and citrus notes. It also has some coriander in the finish with a hint of sweetness. Even though this gin has a strong juniper flavor, it remains retrained and harmonious. It’s also great in a Gin Fix.

I am not sure of the origin of the Alaska cocktail, and the Savoy Cocktail book is not especially helpful:

So far as can be ascertained this delectable potion is NOT the staple diet of the Esquimaux. It was probably first thought of in South Carolina – hence its name.

The cocktail itself highlights the gin while the chartreuse adds an herbal element. It’s spirit-forward and elegant. Like a Martini and in keeping with its name, it is best served icy cold.


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