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With visions of sugarplums dancing in his head, PDT owner Jim Meehan pulled out a bottle of Damson gin liqueur and starting tinkering. Damson plums—the spiciest and most tart variety of the fruit—often ripen in early September, just in time to be macerated into a liquid holiday treat. Made in the Finger Lakes, Averell's Damson Gin is an American take on the classic British liqueur. A combination of fresh damson juice, gin and sugar, it's like the less bitter cousin of sloe gin.
Meehan echoed the liqueur's sweet-tartness with lime and grapefruit, a nod to winter's excellent citrus. "It's like a seasonal gin sour," says Meehan, who fortified the drink with Nolet's Silver, a more floral and fruiter-than-average dry gin.
Half an ounce of Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie brings out the gin's piney underbelly. An infusion of springtime buds of Douglas Fir in clear brandy, this Oregon-crafted tree spirit is a breath of fresh, wintry air.
A bit of cane syrup lends Noël some extra body and helps balance the acidity. Once shaken, the medley of flavors meld gracefully into a merry cocktail that's a little sweet, a little tart, and very refreshing. Topped with an invigorating sprig of Douglas Fir (or rosemary if you can't find a Christmas tree), Nolet's Noël brings the forest to the nose, and to all, a good night.
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