The land of fairytales—better known as the Black Forest—is now home to the tale of cocktails with Alexander Stein’s newest gin, Monkey 47. And with 47 exotic botanicals blending lavender aromas and floral forward notes together, this potent potion is leaving the witches and wolves at home to bring New Yorkers a sensational spirit that would make Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood come alive again.
Discovering an archaic gin recipe from 1945—when commander Montgomery Collins united British tradition, the exoticism of India, and the purity of the Black Forest together—Stein has now fine-tuned it to develop a smooth botanical spirit that’s innovative, seductive, and skillful. And now from Lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side, cocktail enthusiasts can take a ride and taste this unusual booze that’s making an appearance on liquid libation’s main stage.
We sat down with Stein and Hawkins to hear the story behind the brand and where New Yorkers can sip and be served this newly launched concoction.
Tell me about Monkey 47! How did you discover the original recipe?
ALEXANDER STEIN: The recipe was discovered in the same part of the Black Forest where I have been visiting with my family since childhood. My family has a history of distilling and because of my passion for it, people knew I would be very intrigued.
A long history, dating back to 1945; tell us about its German origin in the Black Forest and why you decided to recreate this extraordinary gin?
AS: Honestly, I had never had a gin that I truly loved and I was excited by the challenge to create something better. In addition to distilling, I am very passionate about design. So when I set out to create the best gin I could find, I wanted to do so in a way in which every part of the process was thoroughly thought out from a design perspective. From the bottle and label to the distillery itself, I have really enjoyed creating and bringing to life the entire Monkey 47 experience.
The founder of Black Forest distillers, how would you say your background in technology helped you to develop this multi-botanical spirit?
AS: It helped me realize how much I enjoy creative thinking when it comes to problem solving and surprising people with some of the different ways I present solutions.
What's your go-to way to sip on Monkey 47?
AS: I enjoy it on the rocks with a grapefruit twist—a simple, refreshing way to enjoy this beautiful spirit.
Lacy, as the official brand ambassador for Monkey 47, where can New York City cocktail enthusiasts enjoy this complex and delicious spirit?
LACY HAWKINS: New Yorkers are lucky that they have so many options for where to enjoy Monkey 47. Some of my favorite spots for a Monkey 47 cocktail are Little Park, inside the Smyth Hotel, Dear Irving and Loring Place. Each of these bars feature Monkey 47 on their cocktail menu and the bartenders are always quick to call me out as someone with great taste whenever I order a drink with Monkey 47.
I saw they're serving a new cocktail—coined Look Both Ways—at Momofuku Ssäm Bar which is paired with the Montauke Fluke Tartar. Why choose this pairing?
LH: Look Both Ways at Momofuku Ssäm bar is a fantastic creation! It drinks like a bold glass of rosé wine and rosé pairs wonderfully with ceviches, seafood tartars and oysters. The citrus, spice and herbaceous notes of Monkey 47 play really well with the white kimchi ice and the mild, delicate flavor of Fluke. The flavors of the cocktail and food don't compete or bully each other on the palate, but are very complimentary of one another.
Do you have any specialty cocktail recipes from this past summer that you can suggest to our readers as the seasons change?
LH: Yes! I have been obsessed with a Monkey 47 martini variation that is dangerously easy to drink. It tastes like green melon, fresh grass, cardamom and watermelon rinds—I've been ordering it everywhere I go.
And what are your predictions for the ultimate New York City Fall cocktail?
LH: Some gins are really seasonal and only come out in the spring and summer, but not Monkey 47. This is a gin that holds up really well to the rich and bold flavors that we naturally start to crave in the colder months. I think we will all see more Negronis and Martinez cocktails passed over the bar and even a few Gibsons in there too. A Monkey 47 Gibson is the perfect transition cocktail from summer to fall. It has savory, slightly briny notes and garnished with a pickled onion that has the spice of autumn with the brightness and crunch of summer.