There are many things that make an experience at Root & Flower unique. Interestingly these things are less premeditated than just seem to be a natural evolution of the bar experience. One perfect example of this is the Génépy phenomenon.
This particular evolution started with a bottle of Génépy on our back bar where I referred to it as the “poor man’s chartreuse,” a great substitute in classic cocktails that called for its more expensive sibling. By chance, a customer who was very familiar with skiing and drinking in the Alps happened to see this bottle. Excited, he offered to buy shots for the whole bar until the bottle was gone. Observing the excitement and wonderment of those who participated I instantly realized this was something we should explore further, and so the Génépy shot was born.
It became our “good will shot” for special occasions, for local appreciation, and our go-to anytime someone wanted any type of shot. We never saw any data to back it up but for a time in 2016 we were told our little bar was the single largest purchaser of Dolin Génépy in the country. Since its heyday consumption has certainly slowed down but it is still undeniably ingrained into the fabric of our bar program. Now any regular to the bar is very familiar with Génépy, but in actuality most don’t really understand what it is exactly. They just know it as the local shot that is unique and delicious. So what the hell is Génépy?
The actual definition of Génépy or Genepi (depending on what side of the Alps you’re coming from) is pretty loose. The general standards is that it is an alpine liqueur (liquor with added sugar and botanicals from the Alps) and that one of its many botanicals is the flower of the artemisia family, aka wormwood (excluding grand wormwood, the type used in absinthe). In short it is a very generic term used to make a liqueur with many different styles, from sweet to less sweet, low alcohol to high alcohol, with many different producers from home distillers to more well known producers like Chartreuse and Dolin.
The producer we are known for pouring is Dolin. It worked for us for a lot of reasons. There is of course the association with mountains and ski towns, but most of all it has proven itself again and again to be a very versatile tool in our bartenders arsenal, from the simple chilled shot to the unique addition in cocktails.
Though I think what I like about it is its representation of forward thinking by looking to the past. I think this is an example of many exciting things happening in the food and beverage world right now, the combination of rediscovery and innovation. Génépy is one of those things, and I for one will happily continue to explore and enjoy it.