The way AJ Temple sees it, every cocktail tells a story. He also believes his Temple Distilling gins are the perfect main character for a good page-turner.
So when Temple, owner and head distiller at Temple Distilling in Lynnwood, set out to create a contest to gin up some interest in his products — pun intended — he asked local bartenders and drink makers to tell a story. Earlier this summer, Temple kicked off the Co-Authored Gin Project, a competition that had bartenders use one of Temple’s gins to craft a hard-to-put-down cocktail.
Temple received about 20 recipes from bartenders around the Puget Sound region. He then sat down with John Slagle, craft spirits portfolio manager of Orcas Distributor, and Mike Carroll, owner of Seattle’s high-end cocktail bar Cursed Oak, and made every single drink — even the one they had to light on fire multiple times.
“It was tough, but we made it and tried it,” Temple said. “It was good, but it had a little butane aftertaste.”
The selection process winnowed the competitors to four: Jacob Lichty’s A Barreled Bouquet, Kat Chawkins’ Origin Story, William Anderson’s Blossoming Sea and Jesse Yoskin’s The Drink Takes You. One night in August, the four finalists were invited to Cursed Oak to make and serve their drinks to customers.
Voting that night included customer feedback done in Iron Chef fashion (7 points for flavor; 3 for presentation) and sales of the finalists’ cocktails over a three-day period. The winner in a close competition was Lichty’s A Barreled Bouquet, a cocktail made with whiskey and Temple’s barrel rested gin.
Temple said Lichty, a bartender from Wallingford’s Yoroshiku bar, made a drink that was complex without being overpowering.
“You expect citrus and gin and even gin and egg whites like a gin fizz, but you don’t often see caraway and lavender with gin,” said Temple. “I couldn’t think of a drink like that that I’ve ever had before.”
As for the winner, Lichty will now have the pleasure of working with Temple to make a special release gin for Temple Distilling. Temple said they’re currently gathering a list of botanicals and leaning toward more of a malt base than botanical. The gin should be released later in the year.
As for Lichty’s drink, Yoroshiku will be serving it through September. Or, you can follow the recipe below and make it yourself.
The contest was just a small part of Temple’s summer. Along with finding out that his wife is expecting their second child, Temple also signed an agreement with a distributor in Montana to start distributing Temple Distilling in October. It’ll be the first out-of-state distribution for the Lynnwood-based distiller.
A barreled bouquet
Temple’s take: The complexity in this cocktail was huge but nothing was overpowering. The balance was equally as impressive, allowing our barrel-rested gin to shine while the liqueurs and sharper notes from the bitters helped to bolster it.
1½ ounces Temple Woodcut Barrel Rested Gin
½ ounce St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
½ ounce Koval Caraway Liqueur
2 dashes Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
2 dashes Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
¼ ounce Woodinville Whiskey’s Barrel Aged Simple Syrup
1 Kaffir lime leaf as garnish
Pour the barrel-rested gin over ice into a pint glass and add the barrel-aged simple syrup to the glass. Stir gently, and strain into iced lowball glass.
Add St. Germaine liqueur, Koval Caraway liqueur, cardamom bitters and lavender bitters to a lowball glass. Stir lowball glass until ingredients create an even off-gold color in the glass. Re-ice as needed to fill glass.
Break Kaffir lime leaf and rim lowball with edge. Place Kaffir in glass so that the leaf points top-up.
— Recipe by Jacob Lichty, Yoroshiku (Wallingford)
Temple’s take: We loved this one because it had citrus and some cool spice from the chile tincture, but it didn’t ever overwork your palate. It was bright, refreshing and packed full of flavor, just like any great gin cocktail should be.
2 ounces Chapter One London Dry Gin
1/2 ounces yuzu juice
1/2 ounces Cane simple sugar
1/4 ounces lime juice
Dash house chili pepper tincture (spicy)
3 bing cherries
Muddle the cherries with yuzu. Shake with remaining ingredients and kold draft (or similar) ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe cocktail glass.
— Recipe by Kat Chawkins, Adana (Capitol Hill)
Temple’s take: Our citrus heavy Navy Strength was a perfect match for the only drink using egg white and cream. The addition of Solerno and pamplemousse, both citrus liqueurs, helped to elevate this profile, and the hibiscus added a floral note to really round out the experience.
2 ounces Chapter One Navy Strength
3/4 ounce Giffard Pamplemousse
3/4 ounce Solerno blood orange liqueur
3/4 ounce heavy whipping cream
2 dashes hibiscus water
1 dash Scrappy’s cardamom bitters
1 egg white
Reverse dry shake, strain into a flute with 1 ounce of club soda already in it.
Garnish with a hibiscus petals.
— Recipe by William Anderson, The Butcher’s Table (South Lake Union)
The Drink Takes You
Temple’s take: This drink, crafted after a challenge to make a gin cocktail without using citrus, was a natural fit to the final lineup as the use of fresh basil and ginger offered a bright and refreshing flavor profile, especially in the summer heat.
2 ounces Chapter One London Dry Gin
1 cube of chopped fresh ginger (about 1/4-inch square)
4 to 6 basil leaves
¼ ounce honey syrup
Splash of soda water
Add the chunk of ginger to a mixing tin and crush with a muddler to release the juices. Add the gin, honey, and basil leaves. Fill with ice and shake for 10 seconds, or until the metal shaker is iced over. Double strain over fresh ice into a double old fashioned glass
Top with a splash of soda water. Garnish with a basil leaf
— Recipe by Jessie Yoskin, Civility and Unrest (Bellevue)