Juniper. Coriander. Citrus. These are likely a few of the botanicals that come to mind when you think about gin. And you certainly wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, juniper is a requirement to make gin, but distilleries can get creative with the spirit’s remaining ingredients. Which is exactly what Alexandre Gabriel — the owner and master blender at Maison Ferrand — did when he created Citadelle Gin Vive Le Cornichon, a French gin that features, you guessed it, cornichon pickles as one of its principal botanicals.
Vive Le Cornichon is the latest spirit in Citadelle’s “Les Excentriques,” a collection of small batch, limited-edition gins that feature botanicals you wouldn’t typically find in the spirit. While smoked juniper berries and cherry blossom petals have been used to infuse past bottlings, cornichon is perhaps the most whimsical of the bunch. For the expression, Gabriel was inspired by Maison Marc, a Burgundy-based cornichon producer that picks each little pickle by hand.
“Maison Marc are making the best French pickles that you can imagine,” Gabriel says. “They grow their own and take care of the full process. When I saw them doing this, I was really inspired and thought we could produce a wonderful gin that could be a perfect balance of freshness, acidity and a tangy feel. We distilled it and thought we would be shut down by the marketing team, who often think we are a bit too crazy at the distillery. Luckily, they loved it, and we made it into a special edition so we can enjoy it together. “
The label is just as whimsical as the idea of a cornichon gin. The blue faceted bottle is adorned with an illustration of a cat tipping a jar of pickles into a glass, which is a nod to Citadelle’s own distillery cat, Little Tom. “He can often be found hanging around the table when the team gathers for barbecues at the Château de Bonbonnet,” Gabriel says. “One evening last summer, he hopped on the communal table to sneak a snack and was intrigued by the cornichons he spotted. He started to play with the cornichons, providing inspiration for the label design.”
The Tiny Hack That Will Greatly Improve Your Gin MartinisGin, meet Scotch. And maybe hold the vermouth. We’re having a Smoky Martini.
Now, as a lover of all things brined, pickled and salty, Vive Le Cornichon immediately caught my eye. But if you prefer your martini dry rather than dirty, rest assured that this gin is a beautifully balanced spirit that won’t send the pickle-opposed running for the hills. Oui, the cornichons definitely add a fresh, salty note to the palate, but it’s beautifully balanced by the other botanicals — think aniseed, lemon peel, nutmeg and, of course, juniper — for a smooth, round flavor that has just a touch of pickle essence.
Vive Le Cornichon is excellent in a classic martini (whether you prefer an olive or twist), and it also plays well with tonic in a classic G&T. But my personal favorite way to enjoy the quirky spirit is in Citadelle’s Le Pickles Martini, which gets a savory bite from cornichon brine and a tiny pickle garnish.
Le Pickles Martini
Prep Time: 1 minute
- 2 oz. Citadelle Gin Vive Le Cornichon (I personally use 2 ¼ oz., but you do you)
- .5 oz. dry vermouth
- 1 barspoon cornichon brine
- Cornichon, for garnish
Add all liquid ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold.
Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garish with the cornichon.
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