Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Return of Malacca
It must have been a birthday or an anniversary, a celebration of some sort that required making a reservation and appearing at an appointed time in clothes we never wore around the house. Seated at the bar while waiting for our table, trying to look sophisticated in those unfamiliar-feeling outfits, the bartender asked what we'd like to drink.
My response was to ask what he'd recommend. In this case, being the late 90s…I suspect around '97 or '98…he suggested a new gin called Malacca, made by Tanqueray, that was a little sweeter, a little more citrus-y than a traditional English gin. The cocktail he shook was a variation on the martini called a Cooperstown, the glass washed with vermouth and rubbed with mint before the chilled gin was added.
I still remember the bartender setting the glass on the bar, the slightly frosty martini glass, the crystal clear pool of liquid with the tiniest of mint leaves floating on its surface, how it tasted of lime and herbs and a hint of mint. We bought our own bottle and made that drink many times and it became, in many ways, our gateway to the world of cocktails. We were shocked a few years later…2001, to be precise…to find that Malacca was discontinued by the company.
While we tried to replicate it many times with other gins, nothing had that herbaceous, citrus-mint glint that we remembered. Then, twelve years later, there was the surprising news that the company had decided to bring back Malacca. Last week we were able to buy our first bottle (actually, two) and make that drink again, remembering nothing of the occasion that brought it into our lives, only the cool liquid pool with its delicate mint float.
Makes one drink.
3 oz. Malacca gin
Splash dry vermouth
Fill cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice. Add gin and shake. In chilled martini glass, add splash of vermouth. Using a mint leaf, rub the vermouth all around the inside surface of the glass. Discard vermouth and mint. Strain gin into the glass. Float a small mint leaf on the surface and serve.