Gingered and smokin’

A few weeks ago, I received a review bottle of a product that’s been reintroduced to the American market (albeit in a reformulated recipe)–Canton Ginger Liqueur. I love ginger in all sorts of forms: I love the slices you get to clear your palate between bites of sushi; I love ginger beers and ales; and I love ginger as an ingredient in food and cocktails. So I was excited to accept an offer of Canton.

As soon as I got it home, I opened it and poured a dram into a small snifter. Both Paul and Jamie have already written about their bottles, and I find no fault with their tasting notes on the straight liqueur–ginger and honey with a note of vanilla.

Alone, it’s a really pleasant quaff, delightful as an after-dinner sipper. But the big question is, how does it mix? Gotta say, I’m still workin’ on that. The first thing I did was to follow Jamie’s suggestion and mix up a Debonair, using Oban for the scotch. Wow. That Gary Regan knows his shit; the Debonair is a great drink, both smoky and gingery.

Then I started experimenting to create something new. And at this point, I made some dumb mistakes. I won’t say what they were, but if you knew, you’d say, “WTF were you thinking?! Have moths eaten your brain?” Let it suffice to say that it’s pretty easy to bury the Canton’s flavor if it’s up against aggressive ingredients.

Finally, I hit upon a winner, a simple, if somewhat obvious, blend of cognac, Canton, vermouth, and lime.

  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. Canton
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth

Technique: Shake over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

I’m curious to try a variation of that with rye.


3 thoughts on “Gingered and smokin’

  1. Domaine de Canton is a French cognac infused with Chinese baby ginger, ginseng and Tahitian vanilla. Served neat, it’s sweet. Add a twist of lemon or a spritz of lime and it turns a bit spicy. Shake it in a cocktail and it adds a complexity that it’s hard to find in other liqueurs.

    Canton (as it is colloquially known) is by far the most favourite item on our restaurant’s backbar. I find myself using dashes of it in all sorts of cocktails–our Ginger-Cucumber Sake-tini, Bloody Geisha, Charbay Green Tea-ni, with bourbon in a drink called The Matador, with cachaca and coconut milk in my Thai-pirinha, and stands proudly front-and-center in (the most popular drink thus far) the Canton Sidecar. In the kitchen, you can add it to cream sauces, mussels, steamed fish with lemongrass and other Asian cuisine. Drizzle it over green tea ice cream. Make a green-tea toddy.

    Surely, you will be needing more than one bottle.

    And when you’re done, you can have a local glass-smith transform your bottles into an attractive ’20s-style lamp, a frosted votive holder or outdoor luminiere.

    ~Sc’Eric, bar manager
    Fuji & Jade Garden
    State College, PA


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