Friday, April 26, 2013

Gin Antipasto

This is a story about one of my favorite drinks. It involves a confluence of things, all of which are worth talking about.

New Amsterdam

I don't know about you, but I tend to ignore the people giving out free samples at grocery stores. Unless, of course, the free samples are alcohol. That's how I knew, for instance, that I didn't need to buy any Killian's Irish Stout. But it's also how I came to find New Amsterdam gin. I'm normally not looking at the $13-14 range when I'm looking at liquor, but this stuff was smooth. It's far better than it has any right to be at that price point--it is superior to some gins that cost twice as much. It has definitely become my gin of choice.

That means even more considering that gin is my liquor of choice. I joke that it has something to do with getting a law degree, but the fact is I just love it.


As long as I can remember, I have loved olives. As a kid I really only liked manzanilla olives (the cheap green ones), but as I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate every kind. I always check out the Mezzetta brand jarred olives to see if they have anything I want to try, and a few months ago they did: Italian olive antipasto. This stuff has olives, garlic, red peppers, and pepperoncini peppers (those pickled peppers you get with a Papa John's pizza or on salads). The juice everything is pickled in is chardonnay. These olives are quite possibly the most delicious thing ever to come out of a jar, and the whole arrangement has a mellowing effect on the peppers as well.


As a gin drinker, I do enjoy a good martini, but I don't typically keep vermouth in the house. Nor do I have martini glasses or a martini shaker. That's a bar thing for me. What I do instead is put the gin on ice and toss in a couple olives. I don't think there's a name for it, but it's gin garnished with olives, usually the cheap manzanilla kind. I've also used fresh scallions on occasion.

Well, I used the olives from the antipasto, and the result was simply brilliant. The chardonnay is vaguely similar to vermouth, after all, and the olives were delicious. (Nothing beats a gin-soaked olive, if you haven't tried it.) But one time I thought, what the hell? I put in one olive and one pepperoncini pepper.

This is heaven. Of course it's just the right amount of salt; too many olives can ruin that, but this is perfect. But the pepper gives it just the slightest kick. And there's one more thing that might not be obvious: the oil leaves a delicious film on top, where tiny golden pools of the oil form. This gives it that extra something to really put it over the top.

I suppose this would work with just about any gin, or straight vodka if you prefer. Go for it. You should absolutely NOT stir the drink after you put the olive and pepper in, because then they release too much oil. Well-balanced, this is one of my favorite things ever.

Which brings me to . . .

So, I have two questions.

1. Is there another liquor out there that is too good to be as ridiculously cheap as it is?
2. Have you accidentally discovered a drink that you love?


  1. I don't know about "ridiculously cheap", but Tequila Anejo from CostCo is amazing. Also, Hendrick's gin is quite delicious right out of the freezer overs some olives.

    BTW, where did you get New Amsterdam from?

  2. The first time was at a Hy-Vee (a Midwest grocery store chain) and I've bought it at Super Target as well.