The story goes— Hendrick’s Grand Cabaret is inspired by a 17th century French recipe for distilling various stone fruits. Of course, quirks are abound. Supposedly the drink would unexpectedly show up and parties would ensue.
In all seriousness though, it’s not surprising that a French distilling manual would yield a recipe rife with stone fruit. The Alsace region is renowned for its stone fruit orchards and Eau de Vie production. Hendrick’s is famously shy in recent years about their botanical bills for their Cabinet of Curiosities gins; however, there’s a couple safe guesses for what stone fruit may be in Grand Cabaret.
Apricots were newly introduced to France in the 17th century. They would have been new, novel, and something worth showing off if one had access to them. Mirabelles were already well established in the French countryside by the 16th century. Popular, sweet, and highly seasonal— they are easy to ferment because there’s no need for preparation like pit removal. Further, they didn’t keep long. So it was either jams, jellies, or something more dramatic like distillation.
Color: Perfectly clear
Aroma: Vivacious and bright with stone fruit. Strong notes of fresh apricot flesh and sweet, almost candied peaches. Some might find the aroma resembles peach flavored candies. A slight floral note of rosewater hovers on the edges.
Flavor: Peach, sweet orange, lemon and a touch of juniper early. The mid-palate absolutely explodes with stone fruits. Honey, apricot, and a ton of fresh mirabelle plum. Toward the end, notes of rich dried cherries complement some hints of chamomile, piney juniper, and elderflowers.
Finish: Long and only mildly warm, with a hazy afterglow of elderflower, dried apricot and peppery cubeb.
There’s an apparent sweetness created from the botanicals. It’s vividly flavored and some may liken it to a flavored vodka. However, I might disagree— juniper is a co-star but it is present throughout.
Cocktails and suggested serves
While Hendrick’s Grand Cabaret recommend a cocktail on their label that includes a sweeter fruit juice like cranberry, I think this gin is best complimented by a sour, fresh juices. Try it in a Tom Collins.
Some of the drinks I found it less successful in are some of the standards. I did not love it paired with bitter ingredients like Campari in a Negroni.
Where it might work best is in simple mixed drinks. Try Hendrick’s Grand Cabaret in a gin and lemonade.
Overall, Hendrick’s Grand Cabaret
This is one of the gins that makes me think I should add a “fruity” part to my flavor diagram. It’s bold, bright and fruit-forward. It’s a beautiful expression of the fruits that go into Hendrick’s Grand Cabaret.
However, I’d say this gin has a narrow appeal. If you’re a fan of boldly contemporary, flavored, floral/fruity gins (maybe the group that heard the idea of 2023’s Flora Adora and was excited!), you’re going to love it. If you’ve found yourself even once in the last couple decades thinking, “I wish there was more juniper in my gin,” you’re going to think it again.
Judged as its own thing, Hendrick’s Grand Cabaret is a successful, albeit loud, celebration of fruit. I enjoy it, but it won’t replace my main house pour.
Recommended among the Hendrick’s limited editions