A Proper Figging Cocktail Recipe

The inspiration for A Proper Figging is not for the genteel. If you’re curious about the backstory of this cocktail’s name, please, proceed without judgment. If you’re simply interested in a cocktail recipe for a delicious ginger-tinged, raisiny cocktail without the occasionally obscene backstory, by all means, skip to the end.

As with many of the finest cocktail inspirations, this one started with a bottle of gin. In this case, it was Sweet Gewndoline French Gin. Sweet Gwendoline has a striking all-around design. The shape of the bottle hearkens back to the art deco style of the mid-20th Century. The label cuts a dominating presence with a woman bedecked all in black. She wears a catsuit, heels, a top hat, and opera gloves. Her right hand wields a bullwhip. The eye-catching packaging hints that there’s more to the story of this gin.

Most of that story is detailed on the Sweet Gwendoline website. What’s left out is that this is a celebrity gin developed by burlesque icon Dita Von Teese and high-profile spirit marketeer Larry McGearty. When collaborating on this gin, they took inspiration from visual artist and publisher John Coutts (a.k.a. John Willie), who, throughout the 40s and 50s, published a fashion and fetish magazine called Bizarre. That’s where his character Gwendoline (and the spirit’s namesake) made her first appearances. However, it wasn’t simply this story that inspired A Proper Figging.

The gin’s unique flavor profile completed the circuit that led to the spark. Sweet Gwendolyn is infused with Figue de Solliès. This violet fig falls under the protected designation of origin recognition and can only be produced in the Solliès region of France (otherwise, they’re just sparkling figs). When sipped neat, the fig isn’t overbearing but doesn’t hide. It’s forward in the profile but takes a step back to linger as the juniper, pear, and white wine notes take turns parading the tongue. 

And that, fellow cocktail enthusiast, is where A Proper Figging was born. 

At some point, while sipping the gin and gazing at the bottle (perhaps after too many sips), a little voice joked in my head, “haha, kink and figs. Figging.”

Another voice replied, “please, lord, don’t say it out loud.”

The first voice countered, “but wait, figs and ginger are a tasty pairing.”

“That’s true,” the sensible voice argued, “but…”

“Oh,” the shameless voice asserted, “and A Proper Figging would be a fun nudge-nudge wink-wink name for people who know.”

The next thing I know, my mouth is opening, and I’m asking the scholarly owner of Coupe Tales, “so, you know what figging is, right?”

As usual, she was supportive and understanding and had the perfect ideas for making this cocktail concept a reality. Before we get to how those ideas formed the cocktail, we should first look at the sordid history of the term “figging.”

What is figging?

Bluntly, in modern terms, “figging” is kinky sensation play where the skinned ginger root is inserted in a person’s rectum or vagina. When the sensitive tissues in those regions of the human body are exposed to the juice, it creates a burning sensation for a handful of minutes. The practice occasionally combines spanking, caning, or flogging to prevent the ginger vessel from clenching their buttocks.

Why is it called figging? No one seems to be 100 percent certain. I’m not a BDSM or ginger historian, and the Wikipedia article on the topic is skeptical of its own sources. It is believed the term comes from an animal trade practice called feaguing. For example, if a horse was sick or weak, the salesperson might put ginger or pepper up its rectum to make it appear lively. This was also known as “gingering the tail” (side note: contrary to 1960s schoolyard belief, this is not how they made Mr. Ed look like he was talking).

Thankfully, at least in the United States, most horse organizations consider it animal abuse, and “gingering” has been banned. 

As for cruelty to humans? Well, if you learn to stop clenching your cheeks when you’re (consensually) punished, it wouldn’t be necessary, now would it?

What is A Proper Figging cocktail?

Being a California-based blog, we first developed this cocktail using mostly California spirit makers (I occasionally refer to the California version as A Proper Folsom Figging). Acknowledging that not everyone can access these California brands, we recommended more universal variants. We haven’t found a similar fig-infused gin, so Sweet Gwendoline French Gin’s the only through-brand for this cocktail. Thankfully, as a celebrity gin, it is widely available throughout the United States. 

A Proper Figging Cocktail: Sweet Gwendoline French Gin, Brucato Woodlands Amaro, Red Vermouth, Ginger Liqueur

A Proper Figging Cocktail Recipe

(A Proper Folsom Figging variant)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add ice to a cocktail mixing glass
  2. Add the gin, Amaro, vermouth, and liqueur
  3. Stir quickly for 30 seconds
  4. Strain into a cocktail glass
  5. Garnish with a wedge of ginger or fig

* Muddling option: Place a nickel-sized slice of fig and/or ginger at the glass’s bottom before adding the ice. Gently muddle in the bottom of the mixing glass. 

Substitution options: We were also happy with New Deal Ginger Liqueur for the ginger liqueur, but Domaine de Canton or Giffard’s Ginger of the Indies might be suitable. The other two substitutions are more complicated as they’re close approximates. For the Amaro, you can get close with Amaro Nonino. Finally, for the Red Vermouth, we enjoyed Cocchi Vermouth di Torino.

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