Jeroen Van Hecke, bartender at the very famous ‘L’Apereau’ cocktailbar in Blankenberge, had won the ‘Biercée Gin cocktail competition’ and as a reward they locked him up in a cellar with Christophe Mulatin and Pierre Gérard at the Belgian Biercée distillery. After a couple of months they re-emerged with a wild look in their eyes…and a bottle of Argousier in their hands.
Sea-buckthornberries. I had to google that, never heard of it. Apparently it is a rather small, orange berry that grows in the dunes at the coast and can be harvested from August to September. The berry is quite rare, but very healthy. They say it originated in Nepal and spread over the rest of the world after the last ice age (probably by Scrat). On first sight you would think it is poisonous, but actually it’s quite the opposite, almost magical healing stuff. The berry has a wide range of pharmacological activities such as cytoprotective, anti-stress, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, radioprotective, anti-atherogenic, anti-tumor, anti-microbial and tissue regeneration have been reported. Basically it turns you into Wolverine.
So I was as excited as a young man at a Playboy Mansion Pool Party when I found a certain black box on my doorstep, bearing a familiar logo. And a beautiful box it is. They must have a pair of good designers at Biercée, their Gin bottle is also very eye (and palate) pleasing.
The liquor has a deep yellow colour and a surprising taste. There is a certain fresh acidity in it, almost like sour oranges. The taste lingers on the centre of your tongue while the sweetness of the liquor develops. This is a very interesting drink. It will mix well with certain gins. Then again, crazy as I am, I wanted to try it with a strong agricole rhum – you know something that tastes like a simple, but straightforward slap of molasses in your face. The acidity of the Argousier reminded me somehow of apples and sour oranges, so I added a bit of Calvados and a dash of two orange bitters. I used an oleosaccharum to bind it all together and stirred it long time over a lot of ice. It was very, very, very yummie.
I like Argousier, it is a product with a wide potential and it could give a tasty twist on your classic cocktails. I hope it stays, it would make a perfect gift for the holidays.