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Soft Focus

So-called “split-base” cocktails are nothing new in the bartending world. Bartenders have long been dividing the spirituous base of their cocktails between two spirits, or “splitting” the base. But the rise of doing so with gin or gin-like spirits is a relatively recent phenomenon. 

“I’ve always loved using Barr Hill in a split-base cocktail, even with other types of gin,” says Sam Nelis, the beverage director at Caledonia Spirits in Vermont, which makes Barr Hill gin. “It has such a rich, round, botanical note from the use of raw honey that it comes through in cocktails even if it’s in a smaller amount,” he says. “It’s a great gin to share the spotlight in cocktails because it still finds a way to shine.” 

As an example, Nelis points to this cocktail, created by Jeff Baumann at The Great Northern in Burlington, Vermont, in 2018. It splits the base between Barr Hill’s honey-tinged gin and genever, a spirit that’s often described as a cross between gin and whiskey. To this mix, he adds Cocchi Americano, an aromatised wine similar to a vermouth, with a citrusy and slightly bitter flavor, and a fruity and floral pear eau de vie. It’s all finished off with orange bitters and a few drops of saline to accent the complex flavours.

The resulting cocktail is clearly a relative of a Martini, but much more flavourful and complex.

  • 1 1/2 ounces Barr Hill gin
  • 3/4 ounce Bols genever
  • 1/2 ounce Cocchi Americano
  • 1/4 ounce Pear Williams Purkhart eau de vie
  • 1 dash Regan’s orange bitters
  • 3 drops saline
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  1. Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a coupe glass.
  3. Garnish with a lemon twist.


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