Grand Magazine - - TRAVEL -

The inspiration for my cock­tail was the wood carved face of a wiz­ardly old man with a to­bacco pipe, hung at the door­way of the Wil­libald gin dis­tillery.

Look­ing fur­ther into this whim­si­cal carv­ing, I found out that they are called wood spir­its or “Waldgeist” in Ger­man. The spir­its are said to in­habit the trees of the for­est and are the pro­tec­tors of those who en­ter. They are also said to bring good luck when spot­ted. Part of this lore matches the term “knock on wood.” When hunters or woods­men would en­ter the for­est, they would knock on a large tree to awaken the Waldgeist to en­sure no evil would come to them. You can see the wood spir­its to­day as carv­ings hung over or near door­ways lean­ing into homes to en­sure pro­tec­tion, pros­per­ity and good luck.

This cock­tail is smooth and bal­anced, show­cas­ing Wil­libald gin. I used As­bach Ger­man brandy to ac­cent the cher­ries and to pay trib­ute to the Ger­man her­itage of Wil­libald. I chose the black cher­ries as I thought the sweet/tart flavour would pair well with the spices of the gin.

I smoked the cher­ries with alder wood chips for an ex­tra layer of flavour and as a way to in­fuse an el­e­ment of wood in the cock­tail. The to­bacco bit­ters level out the sweet­ness and re­mind me of the Waldgeist carv­ing smok­ing the pipe. I chose to use a sturdy Old Fash­ioned glass to rep­re­sent trunks of trees in the for­est and used large ice cubes for slow di­lu­tion. The de­hy­drated, black smoked cher­ries on the yel­low flower “pick” rep­re­sent the colours of the Wil­libald brand.

My tray is home­made of barn wood and I used pussy wil­lows with branches strate­gi­cally placed to cre­ate a ‘W’ for Wil­libald, and ground cher­ries and fo­liage you would find on the for­est floor.

We were also asked if we wanted a song to play while we were pre­sent­ing our drink. I chose “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zep­pelin.

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