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Properly Sauced: Sullivan's Wake at Henri

By Roger Kamholz in Food on Feb 3, 2011 9:20PM

2011_2_sullivans_wake.jpgYesterday we brought you news of America's brimming craft spirits movement. So today, we thought we'd follow up by highlighting a local cocktail (just one among many, we should note) that features a fine specimen from the growing roster of small-batch American spirits to hit the shelves as of late. The delightful Sullivan's Wake cocktail is the handiwork of Clint Rogers, the inventive spirits director and mixologist at Henri. We've noted Henri's cocktails before, but they just keep getting better.

Sullivan's Wake is a gin-based cocktail that dresses a brooding core of bitter, spicy Fernet Branca in willowy threads of fruit, citrus, herbs and vanilla. The outcome is bold yet very well balanced - a mouth-watering overture before a great meal. Rogers includes Gew├╝rztraminer Grappa from Ransom Wines & Spirits. Ransom is a perfect example of new generation of artisan spirits producers in America; the small Oregon winemaker and distiller produces the grappa, two gins, a whiskey, pinot noir and other wine varietals - and all the grapes Ransom uses are organically grown.

Rogers has taken an interesting approach to his cocktail list. New interpretations of classic cocktails fall under the heading "Still Life," while original creations that feature wine or wine-based spirits (such as the grappa in Sullivan's Wake) are noted as "From the Vine." (The latter are collaborations with Henri sommelier Shebnem Ince.)

Despite its young age, Henri already ranks as one of the best spots to grab a well-made drink downtown. On our latest visit, Rogers alluded to even more ambitious cocktails yet to come. Needless to say, we're excited to see what he does next.

Sullivan's Wake

1 ounce Hendrick's Gin
1/2 ounce Ransom Gew├╝rztraminer Grappa
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce Fernet Branca
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce Julius Meinl Vanilla Bourbon tea
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Fee Bros. orange bitters

Shake ingredients over ice and double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Henri is located at 18 South Michigan Avenue.