Boreal Bootleg

Well ladies and gentlemen, March has finally (cross your fingers) turned the corner towards warmer weather. Sure we had a snowstorm today, but it was nearly 50° so I am hopeful. The snow nearly all melted. The sun was out. It was gorgeous.

Inspired by that, I wanted to share a perfect cocktail for warmer weather. In fact, it’s actually Minnesota’s “official” state cocktail! Who knew we had one? It is, of course, The Bootleg. The Midwestival blog did an excellent write up of it a few years back that is definitely worth reading if you want the full scoop, and their recipes are also tasty. Basically, what you need to know boils down to a few things:

  • The cocktail’s roots come from the old upper crust country club side of the state, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy it now!
  • Word on the street is that you can only get the “official” bootleg mix at Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata, but have no fear! We can make our own version.
  • I have no idea when it was invented.
  • Flavor-wise, imagine if a extra-limey gin and tonic got married to a pretty mojito and had a baby. It’s a beautiful thing.

With that in mind, it’s time to share my version. In keeping with my Minnesota spirits train, this week’s feature is Vikre Distillery‘s Boreal Cedar Gin. First thing you need to know: Vikre actually makes three different kinds of Boreal Gin: Cedar, Spruce, and Juniper. I have to say – I had a REALLY hard time deciding which one to use. Ultimately, I picked up a bottle of the Cedar because the little sign next to it said it made great cocktails. Thanks for the tip Zipps! You were spot on.

Each of the Boreal Gins are inspired by the Northwoods of Minnesota and are made from foraged wild botanicals. Truly, if you want to know what Northern Minnesota tastes like, these are your best bet. (Now just imagine sipping on one of these in a canoe in the Boundary Waters… mmm…) The Cedar specifically is infused with smoky flavors from its namesake wood and has hints of black currant and citrusy sumac. While that might sound strange at first, this is a good gin to get all of your “it tastes like pine needles!” friends on board with the spirit. It’s beautiful, subtle, and smooth on the taste buds.

Now, onto the cocktail. I’m calling mine the Boreal Bootleg:

TaylorCathleen_Boreal Bootleg_Gin_Cocktail

Bootleg Mix Ingredients:
Makes approximately 2 mason-jar-sized drinks, or 4 lowballs

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 medium limes)
  • ¼ cup simple syrup
  • Healthy handful of mint leaves

To make the mix, combine everything in a blender, and puree until all of the mint is broken up into tiny swallow-able bits. There’s nothing worse than a minty drink with leaves large enough to choke on. For best results, refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Cocktail Ingredients: Mason Jar Version

  • 3 oz Boreal Cedar Gin
  • 2 oz Bootleg Mix
  • 2 oz. club soda

Combine gin and mix in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well to make sure all of the minty bits are evenly distributed, then pour into a glass over ice. Top with club soda, garnish with mint/lime/both, and enjoy!

This is also an awesome drink to make in large batches for parties. (Hint, hint: Easter is coming.) Good luck with all the juicing, but it will be worth it… and yes, you can make it the night before!