You’ll have to indulge me on this one if you’re not from the good ole Netherlands as all the ingredients in this drink hail from Amsterdam and are, at this time of writing, spectacularly unavailable beyond the Dutch border. We’ve all heard the cookery adage that “what grows together goes together”; well it turns out that works just as well for cocktails as well. A while ago the guys who developed Veld tulip vodka approached me to whip up a couple of recipes for the website and product launch. As well as a couple of bottles of their wonderful tulip vodka they had also brought along a bottle of Willem’s Wermoed (aka vermouth), an only marginally less new (and unconnected) independent startup, to see what we could do with it. It was a total no-brainer to mix these two with another Amsterdam ingredient but that means a bit of a time-out from the main story.
Ingredient three was De Ooievaar Angostura bitters or, as I call them, The Best Bitters in the World*. But, don’t they look like a knock-off of real Angostura bitters? I mean can they even call them that? Yes they can, because these ones actually contain Angostura bark and Angostura bitters don’t. De Ooievaar (who mostly go by the name Van Wees – and don’t even ask me why they have two names) are a tiny and, to say the least, idiosyncratic family business who have been making quirky liqueurs (with names like “shirtlifter” and “parrot soup”) and more since at least 1782. Their bitters, delivered in a uniquely bartender-unfriendly stone bottle, are deep, spicy and incredibly well rounded with strong hits of cinnamon and a funky pepperiness that I like to imagine is the Angostura bark talking to me. They come in tiny 40ml bottles and are sometimes a bit tricky to find so I always grab a few bottles whenever I come across them. While I use them a lot I’ve shied from tagging them in many of the recipes on this site due to their scarcity. They are not a replacement for common or garden Angostura in Tiki drinks but in the likes of an Old Fashioned De Ooievaar (trans: the stork) Angostura bitters are revelatory. Just go easy on them: they pack quite a punch.
But back to the main story. Willem’s Wermoud is a premium and extremely well crafted Italian style vermouth that’s packed to the gills with botanicals and has a wonderful, almost glowing, coppery hue. Amazingly, not only are these three ingredients from the same city, they are all originate from the same postcode. Yep, that would be 1015 in the very corner of Amsterdam’s maze-like Jordaan district. I narrowly missed out by once living just over the canal in dry old 1013. In any case, with three ingredients this special the recipe virtually wrote itself. Basically an age-old Gin and It with a dash of bitters and Veld in place of gin (Veld is in many senses more of a gin than a vodka anyway) it was simply a case of getting the balance just right. At the proportions below you get to taste the best of each of these great ingredients without them stepping on each others toes – just be careful not to make those dashes of bitters too generous. Earthy, peppery, spicy and just a touch floral, the 1015 is one of my very most favouritest cocktails.
2oz / 60ml Veld tulip vodka.
0.75oz / 22.5ml Willem’s Wermoud.
2 dashes De Ooievaar Angostura bitters.
Stir with ice and strain into a (small) chilled champagne coupé.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh air.
Toast the Van Wees family for their sublime bitters.
*This being my opinion and not an empirical statement.