It's time once again for the Weird Gin Cocktail Hour! Seems like there's not a month where I find some new, unusual gin that just begs to be taken home. This time, it's Vikre Distillery's Boreal Cedar Gin, which I almost feel bad for mentioning; it's brand-new, hyper-local, and near as I can tell not yet distributed outside my home state. It's an interesting spirit, very subtly colored and flavored with cedar wood, which is probably a first. The cedar is most definitely prominent, sharing space with some classic botanicals as a somewhat piney presence before ballooning out into campfire smoke with a mild forest-berry backdrop. It's a little bit hot at the end (campfire in more ways than one) but despite all that cedar manages to be more restrained than other evergreen-infused gins like St. George Terrior or Rogue Spruce Gin.
That unique smoky presence makes this a dead-on match for Cynar. After some experimentation, here's a Martinez rendition designed to make use of this potent combination.
2 oz Boreal Cedar Gin
1/4 oz Licor 43
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz red vermouth (plain old Martini & Rossi, this time)
1 dash Regan's No. 6 Orange Bitters
Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin strip of orange peel, or nothing at all.
If you're adventurous, you can swap out some or all of the red vermouth for additional Cynar (in which case you might want to drop the bitters) but I like this more balanced approach. From experience I can also tell you that Luxardo, Benedictine, and even Rothman & Winter's Apricot liqueur all make interesting substitutions for the Licor 43.