The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2011

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Page 87 of 128

A LONE STAR LIFE Houston, We Have Tonic ROXOR IS A BRIGHT LIGHT FROM ANOTHER TEXAS BIG CITY by Anthony Head / photo by Kirk Weddle R oxor Artisan Gin is our state's first proprietary gin, and we have longtime Houstonian Robert Del Grande to thank for it. As owner and Executive Chef of RDG + Bar Annie, Del Grande also holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and he tapped all his skills to create Roxor's recipe. The spirit's debo- nair profile transcends traditional Texas expectations for white spirits. It may not replace the space program in Houston, but it's quite a gift to us tippling Texans just the same. Del Grande could have gone big with the botanicals by including extract of smoked brisket or West Texas mesquite, or maybe armadillo road kill (tatou morts de la route as they say on the Gulf Coast), but instead Roxor is sleek and deep with about a dozen herbs, spices, and flavorings. Of course there's juniper, but the bright head and nose are more pronounced than London dry–style gin, I think, because this is made with Texas grapefruit and lime. There's hibiscus, cocoa nibs, coriander, sarsaparilla, cinnamon and orris root that make a complete flavor profile, lacking nothing it seems. There are Texas pecans in the mix, too, but I'll be danged if I can pick them out; maybe they're the sweet tingles in the lush ending. Del Grande formed New Artisan Spirits with former Coca-Cola executive Don Short, and perfected his recipe with distiller Gary Kelleher of San Luis Spirits in Dripping Springs. That's about 175 miles due west of Houston, in the Hill Country, where the water is superb and where Kelleher already produces Texan favorite Dripping Springs Vodka. Roxor is distilled in small copper stills 21 times—the usual 20 times for the vodka plus once again for the gin and its steeped botanicals. The finished spirit is 90 proof, clean and crisp and crafted to be cosmopolitan, just like the architecturally inspired bottle (which reminds me of Houston's shiny skyline). When poured over ice and allowed to sit for a spell, darn near every one of those extracts is noticeable at some point; the flavors are distinct and not dominating. Coming from a chef, Roxor naturally works well in cock- tails. It's great in Martinis and magnificent with tonic and a splash of tropical citrus. When I poured one part Roxor over ice with two parts green tea, I created a more genteel version of vodka and Red Bull. In fact, the combo stoked just the right inspiration for the holiday season to get me up and decorating the house before Thanksgiving. Can your drink boast as much? december 201 1 / the tasting panel / 87

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