The Cocktail Column: The Chunnel

I’m elbowing my way in to Marie’s Cocktail Column to tell you about one of my own, the Chunnel.

OK, it’s not exactly “my own.”  I’ve been subscribing to Chow’s cocktail feed for some time now, so I get a few recipes a week for mixed drinks.  And I love the idea of cocktails, I just don’t really get around to making them.  But finally, this time, I did more than just skim the recipe.

I have to love a drink called the Chunnel–named after the tunnel that connects the twin stars of London and Paris under the English Channel.  Back in my international woman of mystery days, there was nothing so exciting as getting on a train for just over three hours and arriving in the heart of Paris–I could never believe my eyes, suddenly immersed in French signs and hearing the French language, without having had to take painful overnight flight first.

Far from international jaunts to European capitals, now as parents to two kids we didn’t even manage our first dinner party until this weekend (and it took a little while for even that to be an adults-only affair).  And I bookmarked this drink in anticipation.

(Cocktails) The Chunnel (1 of 3)

Besides the glamorous name, it uses Meyer lemons (of course it does, why would it use regular lemons?) and St. Germain liqueur, a clear spirit that looks as if it were distilled from light honey or soft gold but is actually made from elderflower blossoms, picked in the Alps (seriously?  yes) and presented in a Belle-Epoque style jar.  Not bargain price, but tres chic.  You get floral, almost perfumy notes, floating atop the brightness of lemon, punched up by gin.

Obviously, the perfect drink for the occasion.

This cocktail is also quite sweet–the kind of sweet that is dangerous as you might forget it’s quite strong.  Although I didn’t try it (I had copious amounts of Meyer lemons to use up after ordering a box of citrus online one day when I should have been doing something more worthwhile), you could use regular lemons.  Your drink would be tarter, but I’m positive that the St. Germain is sophisticated enough on its own to carry the day, lack of designer lemons notwithstanding.

(Cocktails) The Chunnel (3 of 3)

The Chunnel from San Francisco’s Town Hall restaurant, available here

  • ice
  • 1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • Meyer lemon twist, for garnish (optional)
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice.  Add each of the elderflower liqueur, gin, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously until the sides of the shaker are frosty, about 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with the lemon twist (if using), and serve.  (I made two at one go; I’m not sure if this would be frowned upon but I thought it came out just fine).