The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2010

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Page 98 of 100

Artisan by Deborah Parker Wong photos by Liza Gershman Sasha Gustin, Assistant General Manager at The Ambassador “Freeze!” It’s not a film noir scene or a police command, but rather the operative word for HARLEM Kruiden Liqueur. Served straight from the freezer or the coldest spot in the ice bin, HARLEM has captivated American palates since its introduction by the Nolet family, the creators of Ketel One vodka, in 2009. Officially a digestif spirit, HARLEM belongs to a family of Central European stomach-settling bitters like those crafted in Germany, Denmark, Hungary and the Czech Republic. But bitter it is not, and its uses go well beyond the therapeutic. With a complex, refreshing flavor profile and lighter body—one that appeals to a broader range of today’s consumers—HARLEM adds a contemporary spin to a category that was formerly constrained by limited appeal. Sweet and Savory in San Francisco Sasha Gustin, Assistant General Manager at The Ambassador, one of San Francisco’s busiest alternative DJ bars, was among the first to introduce HARLEM to his clientele. “Our crowd skews towards GenX and they appreciate a well-made cocktail, but during peak hours, shots are definitely in demand.” Being just steps off San Francisco’s Union Square, The Ambassador attracts a strong following of locals and also appeals to European tourists. On most nights, the bar’s alternative music and no cover charge policy keep a line formed at the door. “At the Ambassador, you’ll find a very diverse mix of people and music in play,” states Gustin, a well-traveled Berkeley native whose family owns vineyards west of Mendoza in Argentina. The bar’s VIP lounge attracts corporate parties and keeps a busy schedule of fundraising events for local philanthropic groups like the Spinsters and the Bachelors. “Unlike Europeans, Americans haven’t yet developed a taste for bitter and it’s kept many of them away from digestifs. Once they try HARLEM, they find that it’s balanced between savory and sweet, but at 80 proof, actually higher in alcohol than most.” The Upshot Artisan shots are a popular format at The Ambassador and are the perfect vehicle for showcasing complex, ultra-premium liqueurs and spirits. Gustin’s most popular artisan shot is the HARLEM Saint, a layered shot anchored by HARLEM, with St-Germain elderflower liqueur and pineapple juice—one that’s effortless to shoot or savor in a few icy sips. Unlike other digestifs, HARLEM’s unique signature combines the familiar flavors of orange zest, cinnamon and sassafras, the primary ingredient in root beer, with a variety of fresh herbs and fruits that can taste almost chocolate-like on the palate. Gustin sums up the shot: “While there’s a lot going on in terms of flavor, HARLEM’s clean, rather mild finish overcomes the reaction that many people have to the aftertaste of more traditional bitters.” 98 / the tasting panel / june 2010 Shots at The Ambassador HARLEM SHOT OF THE MONTH

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