1931: The Era of Blind Pigs, Homebrew and Bathtub Gin
From Bathtub Gin to The Bee’s Knees
There’s been a revival in the way that we perceive and enjoy gin. What once was Prohibition’s drink of the day, the infamous bathtub gin (easy enough to make, but probably tasted like cleaning fluid), has become a fashionable liquor. Spearing the rise of gin in Salt Lake City are the folks behind Beehive Distilling, who in 2013 launched Utah’s first gin distillery since 1870.
Beehive Distilling’s small batches of handcrafted gin are rooted in the creative aspect of distilling. Each batch is aged in hand-charred French oak barrels and features a delicate alchemical blend of various botanicals that invoke Utah’s fragrant desert landscape, including sage leaves, rose petals, grains of paradise, and more. “[Beehive] brings a very Western style to a more traditional London dry gin,” says Chris Barlow, Co-Founder of Beehive Distilling. “We use fairly common botanicals, but the way we do adds a High Desert feel to our spirit.”
Barlow credits the new gin movement to the rise of startup distilleries, but also points out the revitalized gin cocktail—which was first invented to mask the unpleasant taste of bathtub gin—as an instigator of increased gin consumption. “Gin has flavor, and lots of bartenders like that,” says Barlow. “It’s a spirit that gives you endless possibilities with one caveat: You must have some juniper in it.”
Barlow’s favorite gin cocktail is—no contest—the gimlet, a gin, soda, and lime juice concoction. “Three simple ingredients, done right, is the best,” says Barlow. “It’s also a great barometer on the bar. If they can’t make a good gimlet, I’m not going to dive deep into their specialty cocktail list.”
This year at UMOCA’s annual gala, 1931, Beehive Distilling will serve up several delectable cocktails, speakeasy-style—gimlet included—but their specialty menu will feature two of their most timeless creations: the Beehive Old Fashioned and The Bee’s Knees. Look below to find out how to make ‘em at home. For a full list of Beehive Distilling cocktail recipes, visit their website.
Beehive Old Fashioned
In this classic cocktail, the initial botanical hit of the aged gin is offset by the vanilla-honey finish that the barrel aging imparts.
1 1/2 ounce Beehive Barrel Reserve Gin
1 or 2 sugar cubes
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Muddle the sugar cubes with the bitters in a whiskey glass. Add gin and stir to combine. Add ice cubes. Squeeze orange peel over the glass to extract the oils, then garnish with the twist and Griotte cherry.
The Bee’s Knees
With a name like Beehive Distilling, we had to have a drink that combined Jack Rabbit Gin with honey. The result is delicious!
2 ounces Jack Rabbit Gin
3/4 ounce honey syrup (honey mixed with equal parts water)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon wedge.