Bols Genever Gets the Barrel Aged Treatment at Hawthorne

21 Sep


Bob McCoy Pours The Nook  at The Hawthorne

Bols Genever has been one of the most exciting spirit brands to follow the past couple of years. It seems like every respectable cocktail bar in my hometown of Los Angeles started featuring a cocktail using the newly rediscovered Bols Genever within the past year. As a juniper head always on the look out for a new gin to try, I’ve eagerly welcomed this development; but while Bols Genever shares the similar juniper profile of gin, it belongs in a distinct spirits category. The defining characteristic of Bols Genever is the use of malt wine.  The presence of wheat, corn, and rye triple-distilled in copper pot stills give genever a taste all its own.

Founded in 1575 by Lucas Bols, Bols has been crafting Dutch genever since 1664. Despite genever’s long tradition and distinction as a bestseller in the 19th century, it wasn’t really available in post-Prohibition America until Bols reintroduced it in 2008. In fact, many of your favorite classic gin cocktails were originally crafted with genever. I knew I was in for a treat when Boston’s new cocktail hotspot The Hawthorne hosted a Barrel Aged Bols Genever tasting.

Katie Emmerson Tops Off My Wit Haven

The perfect drink to start off the evening was the Wit Haven, billed as a “Mariner’s Sly Apertif.” Bols Genever, white port, agave, lemon, bitters and prosecco to make it sparkle. Prima Perla prosecco dances on my tongue, while the citrus bite brings a crisping finish. With this refreshing yet flavorful apertif cocktail, my night was off to a great start thanks to Katie Emmerson. Katie has spent some time at NYC’ hotspots The Raines Law Room and Death & Co., and is now behind the bar at The Hawthorne, named one of America’s best new cocktail havens.


Bob McCoy Pours a Dutch Oven (Bols Genever, soda water, 2 types of bitters, grapefruit)

When you need that classic cocktail to end a  long day and cold night, the Dutch Oven is there to comfort you. Fortunately, you can recreate this Old Fashioned Bols Genever variation at home with the recipe they shared with Serious Eats.

Several of my drinks this evening were courtesy of Bob McCoy, officially Beverage Programs Laison for Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and The Hawthorne. Hired by Hawthorne Owner and Bar Director Jackson Cannon in 2007, his fingerprints are all over the cocktail menus of many of Boston’s best cocktail establishments.


Bols Genever: Jackson Cannon, Barrel Aged, and standard

The main event of the evening was tasting the standard Bols Genever, the Barrel Aged Genever aged for at least 18 months in Limousin oak, and the exceptional and rare Jackson Cannon Limited Edition Single barrel Bols Genever, hand-selected by the Hawthorne’s owner. We were fortunate to have Lucas Bols USA Managing Director Tal Nadari on hand to lead the tasting. Son of an Israeli restaurateur and acclaimed bartender in Holland, his passion was infectious. Always ready with an answer no matter how difficult the questions, I’m hoping one day to soak up some more knowledge from him over a Kopstootje (“little head butt,” because you must bend over to sip from a tulip glass filled to the rim with genever, paired with a beer).


Josh Childs, Owner of Starlite Lounge & Silvertone Bar & Grill (L), Hawthorne’s Bob McCoy (R)

I could happily sip on any versions of Bols Genever straight for an evening, but do yourself a favor and check out the Cannon four year barrel aged, avaible exclusively at The Hawthorne. Jackson Cannon spent several days in Holland with Bols Master Distiller Piet van Leijenhorst learning about the history of the spirit before deciding on a barrel.


(L-R) Andrea Novak, Manager Sara Kate Ragsdale, and Katie Emmerson

“What a killer playlist. Who’s spinning over there?”
“I dunno, let’s go find out.”

Oh… its none other than Brother Cleve. A staple of the Boston cocktail scene, Boston Cocktail Summit goers can drink from his wealth of knowledge and experience  on topics ranging from Pisco to the Manhattan.


Brother Cleve Provides the Tunes

Back to more cocktails. Another noteworthy creation was the creamy and spicy Nook (Bols, agave, lime, tabasco, worcestershire). The creaminess was thanks to shaking the generous serving of agave, and the drink only got spicier as you savored it. After the event was over, I sipped some Fernet and started contemplating my first non-Bols cocktail.

I was tipped off to the “Call Me Maybe,” but ordered it only after server Andrea Novak, who isn’t a stranger to being behind a bar herself, promised to sing me a verse. Featuring tropical housemade vermouth, plantation rum, and cardamaro, it’s delicious but there is one serious problem with ordering the Call Me Maybe: that damn song will get stuck in your head for at least another 24 hours.


“Call Me Maybe” (L), Dutch Oven (R)

Thanks to an informative tasting and inspired drinks by The Hawthorne’s bar staff, it was my best cocktail experience to date in my new city. I’m looking forward to returning to see what other gems are on their cocktail list.


Making New Friends over Bols (L-R): Dr. Ned Sahin, The Hawthorne’s Katie Emmerson, Ben Miller, The Hawthorne’s Andrea Novak, and a happy me

The Hawthorne
500 A Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 532-9150

More pics here
Note: A portion of the cocktails were hosted

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Election Night 2012: Brick & Mortar - TreasureMA - November 9, 2012

    […] legend Murray Stenson. You can also enjoy an excellent Last Word while helping Murray at the Hawthorne, as I did recently. If you really want to drink for a good cause, you should join me at JM […]

  2. Weekend Reading: Nov. 23, 2012 - TreasureMA - November 23, 2012

    […] Some great recipes in there, including the Fino Swizzle by Boston’s The Hawthorne. […]

Leave a Reply