I met a friend last night at the Passenger (yes, I go there a lot) and we wanted to see what they would recommend as a springtime cocktail. What they gave us was called "The Spring Cocktail." It contained Hendrick's gin, soda water, Cocchi Americano and a cucumber garnish. According to Serious Eats "Cocchi Americano is is an Italian aperitif wine that debuted in 1891. Based on a foundation of Moscato di Asti, the wine is fortified and then flavored with cinchona bark, along with citrus peel, spices and other botanicals. Cinchona bark is the original source of quinine, and this substance gives Cocchi a bitter bite." Serious Eats and Tony Cecchini of the New York Times say that it is very similar and could be used in place of Kina Lillet. Cocchi Americano is relatively new to the US market so I was thrilled to give it a try.
The Passenger said it originally created the "Spring Cocktail" as a twist on the Gin and Tonic given Cocchi Americano's use of Cinchona bark containing quinine (a key ingredient in tonic water). The cocktail had a very mild flavor. Hendricks gin is light and sweet to begin with and the Cocchi Americano added a little bitterness and leveled out the drink (almost vermouth-esque). The cucumber garnish added some fresh aroma and brought out the cucumber that Hendrick's gin uses in its distillation. Overall the cocktail had a grassy/flowery flavor, keeping well to its name but may have contained a bit too much soda water which in my opinion diluted its complexity. I would recommend it as more of a refreshing drink that you might have coming out of the heat. It wasn't too sweet and had a clean finish.