The U Boat destroys. It's a deceptively simple cocktail but it packs a lot depth. Mix equal parts Fernet and Wondermint Schnapps together and you have the U Boat.
Letherbee, a Chicago-based distiller, has released some fantastic and creative gins over the past few years. Their flagship gin, as well as their seasonal gins, are well-balanced and damn tasty. But where they really shine as a distiller is with their take on bitter spirits, like their malort, which is loaded with tons of grapefruit pith and wormwood, and their fernet, which has strong menthol notes provided by eucalyptus and spearmint. I love this fernet and it's perfect as a shot, sipped neat or with a giant chunk of ice.
Drive a few hours north of Chicago to Middleton, Wisconsin, a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin, and you'll find Death's Door Spirits. Death's Door uses locally sourced grains, herbs and botanicals in their gin, vodka and white whisky. Like Letherbee, they make a great tasting and well-balanced gin. They also make Wondermint Schnapps, their take on peppermint schnapps. What makes their peppermint schnapps so tasty is the addition of bitter almond, rosewater and a touch of absinthe. It’s refreshingly minty sweet but not the syrupy type of sweet that makes your teeth hurt, as if a sugar bomb shattered the enamel.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Fernet and Wondermint work very well together. There’s a harmony with how both spirits play off one another. It's minty up front with a blast of bitter on the finish that lingers long after the mint is gone. It's a warm, yet a very cool and soothing cocktail.
All of which leads to the perfect album to throw on while drinking a U Boat. My pick is Life by The Cardigans*. Life, is the follow-up to the Cardigans' debut album, Emmerdale. Sadly, when most people think of the Cardigans they think of Lovefool, the only hit The Cardigans had in the US. Yet Life is an absolute pop masterpiece. Yes, masterpiece. Some might consider it kitschy or too saccharine, but that would be a mistake. It's might be all major chords but the wickedly bitter and creepy lyrics make this album an absolute gem.
Life opens with a blast of organ punctuated by the whack of the snare drum and lead singer Nina Persson singing longingly over a slowed down pop disco beat:
I will never know
'Cause you will never show
Come on and love me now
Come on and love me now
It's sweet. And bitter. And brilliant. Why? Because they launch immediately into the hook of the song before they even get to the first verse.
Life is a complex and dark album, slightly sinister but totally delightful.
*According to my wife Sara, the only acceptable thing to listen to while drinking a cocktail named after a German submarine is something by Wagner.