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Local Libations: The Departure

2010 October 8

by Han Shan

Ingredients for the Departure Cocktail

Today RecipeRelay welcomes Han Shan – another creative cocktail contributor – bringing you a locally inspired twist on an old classic.  Here’s Han:

My girlfriend and I enjoy entertaining in our tiny NYC hovel, and that usually means my sweetie playing host and me playing bartender. I have a humble little home bar setup and a decent collection of bottles. There’s nothing I enjoy more than proving someone wrong after they’ve told me they don’t especially enjoy cocktails. Or whiskey. Or vermouth. Or whatever it is – in my way of thinking, the cocktails just haven’t been presented properly.

As I do my best to provide luxurious libations, I try to adapt to the palates of others and to bring in different tastes… which brings me to Brianna’s recipe: Moroccan Chicken with Figs. I’m a vegetarian, and have been for two decades. I’m long past conjuring the taste of chicken but I’ve done my best to riff off of the other flavors in the dish.

I’ve decided to offer up a deceptively simple twist on a classic cocktail that I hope will be complementary to Brianna’s dish – and also stand on its own. It’s a variation – call it a Departure – on the Aviation Cocktail.

First, in a nod to the local, organic, sustainable food ethic that runs through a lot of the efforts here at RecipeRelay, I took the opportunity to grab a bottle of a new, local Brooklyn-based gin from Breuckelen Distillers (watch the video). It’s delicious, with a flavorful but crisp taste of juniper, lemon and grapefruit peel, with a hint of ginger and the subtle but unmistakable flavor of rosemary.

In addition to gin, a typical Aviation calls for maraschino liqueur (Luxardo is the brand on my bar), fresh lemon, and Crème de Violette, a liqueur made from brandy infused with violets – only newly available in the United States. Luxardo is from Italy, and Crème de Violette – at least the Rothman & Winter brand I use – is from Austria. And the lemons, well, they likely came from Florida or California, right? So, what can I do, I thought, to bring this libation closer to home?

Well, I stuck with the Italian maraschino (just seems essential!) but I picked up a bottle of Theia Organic Jasmine Liqueur, made by Modern Spirits in Monrovia, California – near Los Angeles. Yeah, it’s still all the way across the continent, but after reading up on the debate about whether it’s more eco for East Coasters to get their wine from France or California, I was impressed to hear about this company’s serious commitment to being an environmentally friendly business and offsetting the carbon footprint of their products.

For me, the floral aroma and tea flavor of the jasmine liqueur stands very nicely in place of the Crème de Violette.  It complements the acid lemon and bittersweet almond flavor of the maraschino liqueur, and rounds out the rosemary and juniper notes of the dry Brooklyn gin. The Aviation is a classic because of its balance and the way it comes together to create a whole much larger than the sum of its parts.  My variation – the Departure – will prepare the palate nicely for the big flavors in the Moroccan Chicken with Figs.

I hope the Departure leaves your head soothed, your heart fortified and your palate refreshed and ready for a delicious dinner.


Making the Departure Cocktail

The Departure

Yield: 1 serving

Tools: shaker, paring knife, shot glass


  • 2 oz. Breukelen Gin (or other full-flavored, botanical gin)
  • 3/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. Theia Organic Jasmine liqueur
  • fresh lemon peel, for garnish

Cooking Directions

  1. Pour 2 oz. gin into a cocktail shaker (or a modified two-tin Boston Shaker, as I do).
  2. Add the 3/4 oz. maraschino liqueur, 1/2 oz. lemon juice, and 1/4 oz. (or two bar-spoons) of the jasmine liqueur.
  3. Add ice to the shaker.
  4. Cover and shake vigorously until very cold.
  5. Strain the ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass.
  6. Pare a long thin piece of lemon peel; do it over the glass so any flying oils land on the drink surface.
  7. Rub the lemon peel around the edge of the glass (and sometimes I’ll do the stem of the glass too, to deposit oils on the fingertips of the lucky drinker – bonus aromatherapy).
  8. Add lemon twist garnish to the glass in the most artful way possible without worrying too much about it.
  9. Enjoy!


The Departure Cocktail