Hey, everyone! Sorry about my forced hiatus recently! I had internet troubles whilst moving into a new house! I’m back up and running now though and just in time for New Years! So scroll on down and enjoy yourselves! Thank you all for your continued readership!
Enter the New Year in style with some fancy sparkling wine! Whilst you could go for an expensive bottle of Champagne, sometimes saving a little bit of money is a good shout…
Prosecco, generally speaking, is much cheaper than even a semi-good bottle of champagne. And if you head to a specialist wine shop, you’re more than likely to find a top end brand too!
The best example I’ve come across in the past few years is Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Prosecco Conegliano… It’s usually inexpensive and can often be nabbed when it’s on offer!
Below I give you 3 simple cocktails you can make for your new years eve party. At least to make it a bit more fun for your new-to-prosecco friends! The price detail really hits home if you have a party for more than just a few people!
Prosecco & St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
30ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Top Up TTD Prosecco Conegliano
Using a standard champagne flute, gently add the Elderflower Liqueur into the bottom of the glass.
The simply top up with the prosecco.
Usually used at Christmas this simply made cocktail is perfect to capture the sweetness of the prosecco and pump it up into a sweeter-than-usual mouthful. The St. Germain Liqueur adds a floral note and really does make the prosecco go down easier for those with a sweeter tooth…
I tried this very recently at an italian restaurant with my girlfriend. It was delicious and should be available for everyone to try! My well-known bias for Licor 43 aside, this is my favourite cocktail in this post!
Prosecco & Licor 43
30ml Licor 43
Top up TTD Prosecco Conegliano
Pour chilled Licor 43 into a standard champagne flute.
Top up with the Prosecco and garnish with a twist of orange peel.
This cocktail is one I’ve wanted to try out for a long while and, thanks to my girlfriend, I was able to finally get hold of a full bottle of Licor 43. It’s a very sweet liqueur and can produce many a fine cocktail. But there’s something about this Prosecco & liqueur blend that captures my feelings for prosecco perfectly!
Prosecco, whilst sweeter than champagne, is still a little dry for my palate. But add enough of a sweet liqueur and you have the perfect balance of sweet and dry. Not to mention the addition of various subtle flavours (from the liqueur).
Licor 43 brings its blend of 43 different ingredients into the mix, but it mainly shows off the Citrus and Vanilla in this particular drink… Although there are some herbal undertones there for those with a keen nose…
Prosecco & Creme De Peche
25ml Creme De Peche
Top up TTD Prosecco Conegliano
Gently pour the Peach Liqueur into a standard champagne flute.
Top up with the Prosecco Conegliano…
This cocktail is very much like a mimosa, only it cuts out the fruit juice and uses an alcoholic peach liqueur instead. It has certainly got more bite, but like the other 2 drinks on this list, you get a balance to the dryness of the wine with the sugary liqueur…
This is one of the fruitier of the 3 drinks, with the peach flavour being very, very prominent throughout. Give it a try, and if it’s too sweet, try cutting it back with a dash of fresh lime!
Tequila is, undoubtedly, the spirit of Mexico. Tequila’s sophisticated and continuously increasing quality is the result of blending native agricultural techniques and modern technology, all held together with tradition.
Being Mexican, this traditional backbone inevitably includes one of the most spiritual celebrations in the human world: Dia De Los Muertos.
Dia De Los Muertos, or the day of the dead (DOTD), is a celebration that grips the entirety of Mexico on the 1st & 2nd of November. To pay homage to this spiritual celebration I’ve gathered three of the best 100% agave tequilas available to me here in the UK.
Taking one cocktail from each brands’ website, I will recreate them, aiming to not only showcase brand used but to really help you get a traditional Mexican celebration going this Dia De Los Muertos.
But, before we delve into the recipes, let’s take a little look a what Dia De Los Muertos is, and why it is so widely celebrated across the country Tequila calls home…
Whilst predominantly celebrated in the central and southern regions of Mexico, DOTD has spread to most of the northern regions as well, no small part due to the Mexican Government declaring it a national holiday.
DOTD takes place on the 1st & 2nd November every year and even though this coincides with the catholic holidays of All Souls and All Saints day, the Mexican population has managed to blend both religion and tradition together, culminating in this very spiritual event.
DOTD rests on the belief that, for the 1st of November, the spirits of deceased children will be allowed passage to Earth, from heaven. During this 24hr period, the children return to their loved ones and enjoy the festivities laid out for them by their friends and families.
On the 2nd of November, adult spirits also return down to their loved ones, enjoying the singing, dancing, and other festivities laid out especially for them.
Almost all houses will contain a homemade altar decorated with marigold flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and pictures of the deceased loved one(s) along with their favourite food and drink. This is all done by the deceased’s families and friends and can come at a great personal expense. But, as this holiday is all about celebrating the lives of their loved ones, the economic cost is not a driving factor – it just serves as an example of how important to the Mexican people this tradition is.
On the 2nd, festivities are taken to the cemeteries and there the individuals will sing, dance, and care for their loved ones’ gravestones. Stories are told of their loved ones and families, friends, and others, all gather to celebrate the lives of their deceased.
Dia De Los Muertos is an upbeat celebration that captures the spirit of joy and ultimately shows a true acceptance of death in everyday life. This tradition celebrates the life of the deceased rather than simply mourning the dead.
Dia De Los Muertos is such a celebration that tequila brands jump at the chance to share it with the world. Of course, it acts as a great selling point for their brands but, ultimately, they also share this celebration with the world.
Simply put, Tequila brands make Mexico’s most famous alcoholic beverage and they make it in the traditional way. Part of this tradition is celebrating Dia De Los Muertos. That is why most tequila brands (especially the 100% agave ones) will really kick things up a notch around the end of October…
Now for what you’ve all been waiting for, the 3 gloriously delicious Dia De Los Muertos cocktails…
Patron – Fresas En Fuego
(45ml) 3 measures Patron Silver
(15ml) 1 measure Ginger Liqueur
(15ml) 1 measure Fresh Lime Juice
(15ml) 1 measure Sugar Syrup
4 x Hulled Strawberries
2 x Jalapeno coins (slices)
Garnish: Strawberry & Jalapeno Skewer.
In a shaker, muddle the strawberries, jalapeno coins, and sugar syrup.
Add the tequila, ginger liqueur, and lime juice.
Shake well over ice.
Double strain into a chilled coupe cocktail glass.
Garnish with the strawberry & jalapeno skewer.
Patron Tequila is as beautifully crafted as they come. It is a premium brand in that it does cost a small fortune to sample some of their high-end products but, as with all alcohol brands, you pay for what you get. All their products are handmade, from Pina to Cork, and this is evident in the high quality taste their products are renown for.
Fervent Shaker Top Tip: If you love spice in your cocktail, try infusing your Patron Silver tequila with some sliced Jalapenos.
Add the tequila, Cointreau, Campari, and juices to an ice-filled shaker.
Shake well (10-15 seconds should do it)
Strain into a chilled rocks glass.
Garnish with the kiwi, strawberries, and mint sprig.
Herradura produce 100% agave tequila and they pride themselves on slowly aged uncompromising tequila. They barrel age their Tequila longer than the standard required and the quality of their products show through. I had the pleasure of sampling their range at Imbibe Live 2016 and believe me, they are sublime in their quality.
Ocho – El Diablo
50ml Ocho Blanco
25ml Fresh Lime Juice
10ml Fresh Ginger Syrup
10ml Creme De Cassis
Top Up Ginger Ale
Garnish: 2 x Lime wedges
Combine all ingredients over ice and shake well (again, 10-15 seconds should suffice).
Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.
Garnish with a lime wedge. Or two.
The El Diablo Is a cocktail I’ve been excited about for a long time. It’s simple, yet tremendously satisfying to drink. Its balance of heat and sweet is sublime and it brings out the playfulness of the tequila!
Fervent Shaker Top Tip: If you want a higher hit of heat to this drink, muddle some fresh root ginger in the bottom of the glass with the lime juice. It will add a little raw heat to the overall taste!
So there you have 3 stunning cocktails, using 3 rather eloquent 100% agave tequilas, and what’s more, they’ll all help you kick off your Dia De Los Muertos celebrations with a bang!
Do you have any parties planned for this spooky weekend? Try turning them into a celebration and revel in the spiritual togetherness Dia De Los Muertos stands for!
Disclaimer: the Herradura Tequila was provided as a sample by the grace of Mangrove, a drinks distributor here in the UK. The sample was free, but that in no way biases y statements. Any comments made in this post (or any other) is strictly of my own opinion and will always be so.
Are you a celebrator of the spiritual Dia De Los Muertos? If so, what is your cocktail of choice, if you choose to drink one?
If you enjoy your tequila in other ways this time of year, why not share them in the comments?
Here we have two refreshing cocktails that whilst not very festive, at least in their entirety, they do have subtle festive flavours. However I have tried to keep their refreshing profiles at the forefront because I want them to be available for all year round and not just for Christmas.
Therefore I have decided not to tweak the first cocktail, a classic using Green Chartreuse. And have also decided to share a cocktail I recently came up with and whilst it is not perfected is still a very refreshing combination of ingredients.
#1: Chartreuse Smash
2 measures Green Chartreuse
1 measure fresh lemon juice
2tsp brown sugar
10 mint leaves
Combine the sugar, lemon and mint leaves in a Boston shaker glass and gently muddle until the sugar dissolves.
Add ice to the mixture and then pour in the Chartreuse.
Shake well, for around 30 seconds – or until the tin is well iced.
Strain into a small glass full with crushed ice.
Top up with more crushed ice if necessary and then garnish with a sprig of mint and a lemon twist. Serve immediately and with a straw.
This cocktail is somewhat of a god amongst mortals. In that it is a pretty great drink. I’ve never tried Chartreuse before this drink, shamefully I’ve never had the opportunity, but thought that should change. And boy am I glad I tried it in this cocktail! It’s a perfect balance of sweet and bitter sugar-lemon with the refreshing mint to counter the earthy qualities of the Herbal Chartreuse.
Combined as it is above, over crushed ice – lengthened and well-chilled, it breaks through that barrier of ‘not too sure about this’ we tend to set up with new flavours or ingredients we’ve never tried. It’s a drink I would suggest any one of you try – should you ever have the pleasure of owning some chartreuse, or better yet have the pleasure of being in one of the few bars that actually sell this cocktail!
It’s a great introduction to one of the most stunning liqueurs on the market, an introduction that makes me want to write more about the spirit in a future post (keep an eye out for that one).
I suppose the best thing I can say about this cocktail is that by the time I finished the first mouthful I already had the straw in my mouth for the second. Scarily moreish!
Also if you like Mojito and Sour style cocktails then this is a must!
This post is all about the ultimate sweet vs sour battle: Melon vs Almond, aka Midori vs Amaretto.
Of course there is ultimately only ever 1 winner this post will share 2 fantastic cocktails for you to decide. However for the sake of the battle I shall declare my winner at the end of the post…
So here are two refreshingly simple cocktail recipes you can make at home, recipes that when made correctly will freshen up this belated winter chill gripping us all.
So let’s get started with the Sweet in out Sweet & Sour battle:
SWEET: The Midori & Pineapple
150ml Pineapple Juice
Build the ingredients in a tall ice-filled glass.
Stir well and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
This cocktail is so simple you can make it whilst half cut; which, if we’re honest with ourselves, are the best type of cocktails. Blending the super sweet liqueur that is Midori (Melon flavour liqueur) with the ever-tropical flavour of fresh pineapple juice results in instant smiles all around. Make this for your friends and they’ll all be laughing off that rain-drenching they just suffered. Did I mention how easy it is to make?!
So drink up, and settle yourselves for the onslaught that is round 2…
SOUR: The Disaronno Sour
45ml Disaronno Liqueur
30ml Fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and drop in 3-5 ice cubes.
Shake well and for around 5-10 seconds.
Strain the mixture into a small rocks glass. Think western whisky glass.
Garnish by dropping in a maraschino cherry on a cocktail stick.
And here is an old favourite: the amaretto sour. This cocktail has made the round over the last couple of years and gained extra exposure with Disaronno making it their flagship cocktail. Blending sweet almond flavoured liqueur with bitter lemon juice results in something a little tangy and rather sour. That’s not a bad thing though as this cocktail is surprisingly moreish and will have you addicted in no time. Best thing about them is how quick and easy they are to make. You can batch them too, just make sure you share out the contents equally, you may have trouble on your hands if not…
This cocktail is a wonderful favourite of mine and yes I have used it in posts before but it really comes into its own when used in battle like this. Make a fresh batch of them up for you and your friends and you’ll be wondering why you disliked the rain in the first place. Rain is wonderful.
Ok so there it is your second and rather strong contender for the winner…
But it doesn’t stop there because there is a twist in this tale of two… In true soap-opera style these spirits find it hard to stay faithful to their own mixers and something terrible (or amazing) has happened… Disaronno has decided to cheat on its lemon/sugar mixer with its counterpart’s pineapple juice. But in a twist of fate Midori has also cheated but with the sugar lemon combination amaretto had come to love. I explain with these two bonus cocktails below:
The Midori Sour
30ml Fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Like the Amaretto sour, combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add 3-5 ice cubes.
Shake well and for around 5-10 seconds.
Strain into a small rocks glass and garnish with a cherry on a toothpick.
This version of a classic liqueur based sour retains more of its sweet taste than the amaretto sour, but not so much that it overpowers the drinks base. A perfect blend of sweet and sour this drink is a little harder to knock back due to its sweet/sour complexity (it’s rather rich) but is worth just as much attention as its previous form.
The Tropical Almond
150ml Pineapple Juice
Build in a tall ice-filled glass.
Stir well and garnish with a maraschino cherry and a straw.
This cocktail looks and sounds like it shouldn’t work, but for some reason the flavours blend considerably well. The refreshing taste of pineapple hits your first but then swiftly makes way for the subtle almond flavours of the Disaronno. ‘Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it’ is the tag line I’d hit you with after the looks you’ve almost certainly hit your computer screens with…
Here’s a little secret: Sangria is a perfect centrepiece for parties. Ok, so it wasn’tsuper-secret – most of you already knew that! But do you know the best way to get the most out of your sangria recipes? No? Well, here is my guide to perfect sangrias every time…
Europe And Its Great But Terrible Sangria Obsession
To be faithful to my story telling roots (or, if you want to put it more bluntly, my rambling nature), I thought I’d start with a bit of history: about the origins of Sangria and, most importantly, about why wine takes centre stage in this universal favourite.
What are the origins of Sangria? Well done for those of you who answered ‘Spain’, but even more points for those of you who said Spain and identified the timeframe of 1700-1800’s. We know this historical period more commonly as the Middle Ages (think Game of Thrones, albeit a little less rose tinted – if that’s possible!). Sangria was created mainly out of necessity! Until the mid-late 19th century, safe drinking water was not as readily available as it is today; therefore, the people of the time looked for safer means of drinking.
Based upon the idea that alcohol kills off the harmful bacteria/nasty stuff that causes diseases like Cholera and Diptheria, alcohol naturally and literally became the only safe way to drink any water. In addition to the health benefits of this plan, it was obvious that certain concoctions would be socially shared (quite merrily, I might add).
As these potent mixtures gained popularity, they also accumulated added ingredients, and thus the first ‘Sangria’ recipes came to be. As milk was considered strictly for babies, and as water was more likely to kill you than keep you alive, this wine mixture was consumed en masse, and even given to young children – talk about an interesting childhood.
Traditionally, the typical Sangria consisted of several ingredients: wine, some type of brandy and fruit. This mixture – in one form or another – became popular across Europe for hundreds of years, and has eventually been refined into the modern Sangria we know and love so much. Introduced into the USA back in 1964’s World Fair in New York, Sangria really put Spain (and red wine, especially) on the map across the Americas.
To this day, traditional Sangria is still made using red wine, brandy and fruit, although sugar and fruit juices are generally both used as well.
But where do you begin with the preparation of your Sangria? What ingredients do you need to rustle up a crowd pleasing wonder? Well, before I share with you my easy-to-follow recipes, why don’t you quickly review this check list to get a basic Idea of the ingredients you’ll need:
Wine or non-alcoholic substitute.
Try using different fruit juices. Base fruit juices such as orange, apple, peach and grape are great possibilities.
Sugar: preferably unrefined brown/muscovado – it’s richer in flavour and is not as bad for you as the refined white cane sugar. Honey/Agave Nectar are also great substitutes.
Spirits: rum, vodka, gin, tequila and liqueurs – choose those that work best with the wine you’ve picked. For instance, try using tequila in a spicy style wine, and rum for a sweet one.
Once you have your plethora of ingredients, you can move on to the step by step guide below (here’s some free advice: for that added ‘special something’, try using locally grown seasonal ingredients; they will add much more flavour and you can direct your friends on where to acquire them).
How to Mix Sangria
One giant leap
Start by mixing the wine, chosen spirit, juice and sugar together and then cover and chill for approximately 1-2 hours.
I find that taking your sweet time will result in a better tasting end product. Stir in the sugar until it is fully dissolved, and mix in your juices and spirits thoroughly.
Did you know? – Whilst traditional Sangria primarily uses red wine and brandy, you can use pretty much any type of wine and any spirit you like. Why not try rum and sparkling white wine (Prosecco/Cava/Champagne) or vodka and still white wine?
Sugar and spice and everything nice
Now comes the best bit: adding your preferred flavours.
First, quickly stir your sugar/juice mixture then introduce your ready-prepared mix of fruits and/or vegetables and spices. You can use any fruit you like, so experiment and have some fun. Once the fruit has been added, cover and return to the fridge for another 2-4 hours
The mid-season finale
Like any decent process, you need to check your progress half way through, so this step it designed to allow you to do just that. Remove the Sangria from the fridge, stir it extremely well to make sure the Sangria ingredients are combining well, and then cover and put back in the fridge for one final time (again for around 2-4 hours).
Did you know? – The best tasting Sangria can sometimes involve leaving the mixture in a fridge overnight to allow the fruit to settle into the alcohol, creating deeper, more meaningful flavours in the mixture.
As cold as ice
By now you should have a large bowl/container/pitcher full of a very fruity and alcohol-laced chilled liquid. But it doesn’t stop there. You need to stir thoroughly before serving and have your carbonated mixer on hand (if you’re using one – you don’t have to!). If serving straight away, then ice isn’t necessary. But have a bag or two ready in case it’s a particularly hot day (or you plan on leaving it out all evening).
Service with a smile
To serve, half fill a glass with ice, then top up with your chosen sparkling mixer!
Prosecco/champagne or lemonade make great mixers, but feel free to try any sparkling mixer you want. I find orange soda works particularly well.
This 5 step guide is genuinely all you need to produce party-popping Sangria mixes every time. You can make non-alcoholic Sangria using the same ingredients as detailed above. Whether alcoholic or not, your Sangria will be the envy of all your friends and before you know it, they’ll all be after your recipe.
Since it’s taken you nearly an entire day to create this masterpiece on your table, respect it and take every opportunity to enjoy every scent and sip. Did I mention it’ll keep, in a sealed container, for up to 24-48 hours depending on the fruit/juice used?
And, as I don my Etiquette hat for a small moment; A good host always remembers to be responsible when serving/consuming alcohol, and will check thoroughly that no one is allergic to the fruits/vegetables being used.
One Last Thought
I love to take the slower, more traveled path when creating a great cocktail. I’ll go out and buy ingredients to make my own infused syrups rather than buying pre-prepared, lower quality products. This process scales elegantly in mixtures such as Sangria. Of course you can create a decent version in a couple of hours; but to really blow your guests away, use fresh juice, locally sourced ingredients, maybe something a little less known, and of course take your time preparing it. You should always treat Sangria like a joint of meat in a marinade – allow plenty of time for the flavour to develop.
Stay tuned for next time – I’ll have something a little seasonal once more, in the form of a very well known and historically charged topic: London Dry Gin.
5 scalable sparkling drinks, perfect for your end of Summer BBQ…
This post is a bit pre-emptive. It’s not the end of summer just yet, but with the slightly cooler weather we are getting, it’s only ever around the corner. With these concoctions you can hang on to what remains of this weather for as long as you feasibly can. There is even a non-alcoholic one at the bottom…
Without further ado I present to you the 5 pitcher drinks you simply cannot be doing without this autumn!
1) Vodka Knockout
175ml Lime Juice
500ml Triple Sec
1L Cranberry Juice
1L Bitter Lemon(ade)
1L Classic Lemonade
Mix all of the still ingredients into a bowl/jug and stir well. Add your choice of slice/chopped fruit then cover and place in the fridge for 2-12 hours. Then top up with the carbonated ingredients and serve. If preparing without the 2-12 hours’ notice use large blocks of ice to keep the drink chilled.
2) Rum Juggler
500ml Southern Comfort
50ml Sugar Syrup
150ml Lime Juice
1L Apple Juice
1L Ginger Ale
Mix together the alcohol, lime juice and syrup. Then add your selection of prepared fruit. Cover and leave to chill for around 4-5 hours, then add the apple juice, cover and chill for up to a further 8hrs.
Serve straight from the fridge, and top up with the ginger ale. If prepared at short notice, again use large lumps of ice to chill the mixture, stirring in the ice to begin with.
3) Gin Garden
150ml Lemon Juice
1L Tropical/Passionfruit Juice
1L Soda Water
Mix together the alcoholic ingredients and lemon juice in your serving bowl/jug. Cover and chill for up to 5 hours. Then mix in the chosen fruit juice. Cover and chill for up to a further 7 hours. Serve straight from the fridge, topping up the drink with soda water, but only when it’s in their glass. DO NOT put the soda in the bow as, it will go flat extremely quickly.
4) Orchard Liqueur Especial
250ml Licor 43
250ml St. Germain Liqueur
350ml Plum Liqueur
500ml Apple Schnapps
350ml Cranberry Juice
1L Apple & Pear Juice
1L Ginger Ale
Pour all of the ingredients into a large serving bowl. Then stir in your selection of chopped/slice fruits and stir well. Cover and leave in the fridge to cool for 2+hrs. Then remove and add the fruit juice and stir again. Leave for another 2hrs and then serve, topping up with Ginger ale at the last moment.
If you have less time on your hands, put all the ingredients (except the ginger ale) in the bowl with large ice cubes. Then stir in the fruit, and add the fruit juice and stir again. Top up with the Ginger ale just before serving.
This mixture is perfect as it is, but should you like to tweak it try and stick to Orchard/Forest fruits. A selection of apples, pears, plums, peaches and various soft berries work wonders chopped up and served in the mixture.
5) Mocktail Monster
700ml POM pomegranate juice
350ml cranberry juice
350ml Apple Juice
150ml Lime Juice
1L Bitter Lemon
Mix all the ingredients up and serve with ice. The bigger the ice cubes the better, as they will melt slower. Serve with various sliced/chopped fruit and plenty of lemonade to top.
This recipe works well as a non-alcoholic alternative but can easily be made alcoholic if you wish; Vodka or rum make good bases, with liqueurs like SoCo and Cointreau working equally well. For a special little kick why not try adding 500-700ml of Tequila?
Or you can go for a more elegant touch and swap the lemonade out for Sparkling Wine/Champagne. It’s all up to you!
I’ve tried to make these recipes as crowd friendly as possible, you’ll notive that I’ve refrained from the use of Orange and Pineapple Juices, this is because I’ve found more people than you may think are allergic to them. That’s not to say you cannot add them in at all, just find out who’s allergic beforehand! – we want everyone to get the most enjoyment out of your drinks after alll!
These recipes are easy to prepare in bulk, and show clear volumes of each ingredient so you can scale them up (or down) to order.
All recipes are my own creation, so please ask me if you would like to use them on your own websites/blogs. Otherwise feel free to use them at your events , and even play with the ingredients to suit your tastes. The ingredients used are such that there is a certain amount of tweaking allowed before they taste unbalanced. Hopefully you enjoy them as much as we do here at the Fervent Shaker Co. Your BBQ’s will never be the same…
For commercial purposes (i.e. what you’re able to go out and buy yourselves) I’ll only be including liqueurs you can purchase on the UK market. Although this does not really reflect the list, as I do come from the UK and therefore am limited to these myself…
Possibly the sweetest liqueur on this list, Chambord Liqueur has one of the most ‘Royal’ beginnings too. It is said that King Louis XIV (that’s 15th for anyone who doesn’t know) visited Chateau Chambord and was presented with a Raspberry Liqueur that he loved. Well it is this liqueur that has inspired the spirit we all know and love: Chambord Liqueur. This world renowned black raspberry liqueur is a favourite of many of the modern mixologists ingredients.
This raspberry liqueur screams quality, and even the process shows it:
Using only the best raspberries (among other raspberry like berries) the fruit is then double infused and married with the other ingredients (and cognac wouldn’t you believe).
If this doesn’t scream enough quality the shape and design of the glass it comes in certainly covers any excess. Let’s face it, the French do romance and beauty better than any other country in the world and this liqueur is no different. From the minute you open a bottle you’re hit with the strong ‘raspberry jam donut’ fragrance supplied by the black raspberries. This to me makes it one of the best liqueurs, not just in Europe, but in the world.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Chambord French Martini
50ml Raspberry Vodka
15ml Chambord Liqueur
100ml Pineapple Juice
1) Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a large martini cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with some fresh raspberries.
9)Agwa Bolivia (coca)
I make no secret about my love affair with liqueurs/spirits with great stories. And why should this one be any different? Hint – it’s not.
Agwa De Bolivia is a dangerous and controversial liqueur. Dangerous in that What makes it so controversial is what it is made from: The Coca Leaf (that’s right, Coca as in Cocaine). There is nothing illegal about the use of the leaf, nor the consumption of this liqueur, however when it first came to be, it’s safe to say there were some shamefully shaking heads. But ignore them, because this liqueur is something special indeed.
Hand-picked to extremely high standards, the coca leaves are then transported (by armed guard) to Amsterdam where they are processed and infused until we get this almost florescent bottle of magic.
This liqueur is just a little different, a little crazy and a little controversial enough to not only be an instant hit across the globe, but to also interest people into making cocktails with it.
And that’s why it makes it onto this list.
Cocktail O’Clock: Agwa Berry Kiss
45ml Agwa de Bolivia coca leaf liqueur
150ml Italian Prosecco
Fresh Lime Juice (1/2 lime or round-abouts)
Fresh black berries and raspberries
1) Fill a fancy champagne flute with the chilled Prosecco.
2) Shake the lime juice and Agwa in a shaker, over ice.
3) Strain into the glass, over the Prosecco, watching it ripple through the sparkling wine.
4) Garnish with some fresh berries however you prefer (we like to skewer them, slicing them and putting them on the glass’ rim works too!)
That cocktail was courtesy of someone who’s had the pleasure of sampling and reviewing the liqueur first hand… Liquor Chick.
As the story goesLeonardo Da Vinci’s apprentice ‘Bernardino Luini’ was commissioned to paint a picture of ‘Madonna of the miracles in Saronno’ and in return for choosing an innkeeper to model as Madonna the young maiden innkeeper gave him a bottle of ‘golden liqueur’. Then later on this recipe was rediscovered and eventually sold as Disaronno.
Today Disaronno is among the most recognized of liqueurs across the planet. With a sweet Almond taste (imagine concentrated liquid marzipan being loosed upon your tastebuds) Disaronno is both perfect for drinking as is, or in well balanced cocktail.
Due to its carefully smooth texture and taste it can blend well with both the Neutral vodkas and white rums, but also well with the more flavourful tasting spirits like aged rum, Tequila and Gin.
Now this is something you do not often find in liqueurs, at least not an amaretto. Usually they are just good for aperitifs or as the base of a cocktail (where the other ingredients work around them). This however is different, and it’s for this reason it is my 3rd favourite liqueur.
A drink worth trying disaronno out with would be:
Cocktail O’Clock: Disaronno Jazzy Hour
½ measure Disaronno
1 measure Vodka
½ measure Tangerine Liqueur
1 measure Pineapple Juice
¼ measure Lemon Juice (about 5ml)
Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.
Pisa Liqueur is one of my all time favourite drinks, and was discovered purely by accident. I remember it well, I was looking for a new amaretto I saw in a shop window (a luxardo one, but I couldn’t remember the name) and stumbled across this on the drinkshop. I fell in love with the bottle design and it sounded good, so I bought a bottle for around £13-£14. Since then it’s become no longer available on the drinkshop, but I’m sure that within the next year or so they will break back onto the international market.
How do I know this? Well as recently as January this year (2013) this liqueur was show during an American tv’s superbowl cocktail segment. This alone makes me think they are branching out and it shouldn’t be too long for them to hit the UK commercially again (if they haven’t already)… For all you American reading this: You lucky buggars you, I’m extremely jealous. And would appreciate a few bottles sent my way!!
Here’s what the Pisa Liqueur official website has to say about their history:
“Liquore Pisa was born long ago from a domain steeped in history, rich in flavour and character. Its flavours come from a distant past, a history of intrigues of the renaissance. Therefore Liquore Pisa is aged and wise and imparts the feel of another world. Pisa has been bottled since the beginning in Italy at two Italian owned companies; Franciacorta which exists since 1901, and Torino Distillati.”
Cocktail O’Clock: The Pisa Sour
1 ¼ oz measure Pisa Liqueur
1 ¼ oz measure Stetson Bourbon
¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 egg white (optional)
Fresh grated nutmeg for garnish.
1) Shake ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupe cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with a grating of nutmeg.
6)Prucia Plum liqueur
Prucia is a bit of an enigma when it comes to liqueurs. However whilst it may be half Japanese and half French it is, after all, 100% Plum. This wonderful liqueur is something I discovered after originally falling in love with Brentzen Plum Liqueur. After trying the Brentzen liqueur, I found Prucia and thought I’d spend out the extra £££ for a little extra quality (or so I thought at the time). What I received for my £26 was a liqueur that, quite literally, blew my mind. I cannot shout enough good things about this Liqueur. My only problem is it’s slightly higher price tag – then again you are quite literally paying for the quality of the product, after all the Japanese part of this liqueur cannot come cheap.
“When bored by a splurge of poncey spirit brands, it’s a relief to taste something different…” – The London Paper.
This Liqueur is something a little special, and I wish I could have placed it higher, this with a splash of pepsi cola is just sublime, it’s simple yes, but so good.
Cocktail O’Clock: Prucia Formula
25ml Prucia Plum Liqueur
20ml Antica Formula Vermouth
Top up Champagne
Cherry & orange twist to garnish
1) Shake the Prucia & Vermouth together over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute.
2) Top up with the Champagne.
3) Garnish by dropping the cherry in the glass and squeezing the twist over the glass and dropping that in too.
Created jointly by Giffard, the mighty Liqueur Giants, and Simon Difford (author of Difford’s guide to cocktails), this curious but elegant blend of agave nectar and Curacao Triple Sec elbows its way onto the world market. It gives Cointreau a run for its money when it comes to a unique and rather floral triple sec brand. Clocking in at 40%, the same as Cointreau, this triple sec fills a niche some bartenders were craving: A triple sec that go toe to toe with Tequila.
The obvious thing that sets this triple sec apart is in the name: Agave Nectar. Using 100% Mexican agave nectar; this triple sec blends the Curacao orange peels, that triple sec are renown for, but without losing the quality in the process.
There are only two things that keep this ‘triple sec’ from bettering Cointreau:
1) Exposure: basically Cointreau has this triple sec beat on popularity. Cointreau has been around for hundreds of years and it has a brutal stranglehold on all things triple sec. I mean face it, would you swap out that Christmas favourite for something you’re not sure about? No me either (I would for this but hey that’s me).
2) Cointreau’s combination of bitter & sweet orange peels is still that missing ingredient from every other triple sec out there. Sure this one has Agave Nectar for sweetness, but Cointreau is still on another level. And rightly so, as said above, it’s been around for several hundreds of years, you’d have thought they’d done well in that time right?!
Cocktail O’Clock: The Agave Sec Margarita
40ml Tequila Blanco (choose your favourite brand)
20ml Giffard Agave Sec
20ml Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1) Combine ingredients in an ice filled shaker.
2) Shake well and strain into a margarita cocktail glass.
3) Garnish with a lime wheel.
Check out Giffards Agave Sec product page for a little bit more about its history and for some more cocktails, including:
Fun fact: “Agave Syrup is 90% fructose, which has a very low glycemic index – this means that it’s a much healthier alternative to cane sugar and you need far less to achieve the same level of sweetness.” – Mangrove UK
A list of my favourite liqueurs would not be complete without this beauty. It misses out on the top 3 by literally the smallest of margins. I couldn’t decide between this and the next and I had to flip a coin for it. Not very scientific but let’s face it: drinking rarely is.
As you know from the whole host of Cointreau blogs I’ve written before Cointreau is a premium grade Triple Sec made using both bitter & sweet orange peels (most other triple sec brands use just the bitter peels). I won’t go into too much detail as that will negate the point of all the other Cointreau post’s I’ve written. However below I shall leave link’s to all my other Cointreau posts.
Fun fact: Cointreau turns opalescent when added to water, it shows the liqueur is pure and of good quality.
Cocktail O’Clock:The Cointreau Fizz, Original
½ lime (cut into wedges)
100ml Club Soda
1) Fill your glass with ice.
2) Add in the Cointreau.
3) Squeeze the lime wedges into the glass and drop in when done.
4) Top up with Club Soda
3)Domain De Canton Ginger liqueur
Domain de Canton Ginger Liqueur is another one of those French enigmas (like Prucia), in that it uses an interesting process and flavour to create something that truly is unique.
I tried this liqueur at university, having more money than I knew what to do with, when I bought and tried several expensive liqueurs. At around £30, it’s quite expensive all though these days that’s not far off some of the more established liqueurs.
Using the best Vietnamese baby ginger macerated with a blend of herbs and spices, unlocking it’s fresh essence.
“Domaine de Canton made in small batches and by hand, therefore mass quantities are not possible.” – partial descritption from the Domaine de Canton website.
This liqueur blends a whole collection of ingredients, including:
– Fine Eau de Vie,
– VSOP cognac
– XO Grande Champagne Cognac
– Tahitian Vanilla Beans
– Provencal Honey
– Tunisian Ginseng
If these ingredients are not enough for you, this liqueur is made naturally without preservatives, or colourings.
It’s worth a try if you have the monies knocking about, or even if you find a bar selling it. It’s perfect for cocktails, but even better with champagne, not to mention its use in food recipes.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Canton Cocktail
2 ½ mesures Domaine de Canton
½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
8 mint sprigs
Top up Club Soda (optional)
1) Shake all the ingredients over ice.
2) Strain into a rocks glass.
3) To make this drink slightly longer, top up with club Soda.
4) Garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of caramelised Ginger.
2)St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
What makes St-Germain my 2nd faviourite liqueur? Well apart from the heavenly taste, which by St-Germains own words “is a curious mixture that rivals Paris’ culture”, it’s all about the process St-Germain go through to create their signature liqueur…
Picking only the best fresh elderflower blossoms over the course of a few spring time weeks, the men that gather these blossoms then transport (by bicycle) the blossoms to the collection depot.
It is here that the fresh blossoms are then macerated using St-Germain’s secret method. Further to this the process they employ created the exceedingly fresh and complex elderflower liqueur we all know. With hints of pear, peach and even grapefruit zest, St Germain truly is a unique and superbly special liqueur. And it is for this reason it beats the other liqueurs in this list to 2nd place. The only liqueur to beat it, is one that holds a special place in my heart…
“Neither passionfruit nor pear, grapefruit nor lemon, the sublime taste of St-Germain hints at each of these and yet none of them exactly. It is a flavour as subtle and delicate as it is captivating. A little like asking a hummingbird to describe the flavour of its favourite nectar. Tres curieux indeed, n’est-ce pas?” – Exerpt from the St-Germain website.
Cocktail O’Clock: The St-Germain Cocktail
2 measures Brut Champagne (or dry sparkling wine)
1.5 measures St-Germain
2 measures Club Soda
1) Stir together the ingredients in an ice filled Collins glass.
2) Garnish with a lemon twist.
1)Licor 43 (aka Cuarenta Y Tres)
Repeat readers of this blog may or may not be surprised by this choice. Either way to me it was the easiest place to decide. I don’t think I could ever willingly go back to not knowing what this liqueur tastes like. Also I will not be going too much into its history or the cocktails, seeing as I have several posts dedicated to this…
A little re-cap of my introduction and history of this liqueur starts with my university life (once again, surprise, surprise). In my first year I was staying in halls which were situated 10 minutes walk away from the local Asda supermarket (a UK company owned by WallMart – a reference all you Americans will get). One time I went out with the intention to purchase a vanilla liqueur and was going to buy Galliano, until I saw this little Gem on the bottom shelf. It looked stunning in its unique little bottle, its black label and that golden liqueur.
So I gave in and spent the £16 (then, it’s around £18-£25 nowadays) and it was probably the best £16 I ever spent. I tried to find what it went best with, and strangely found that Pepsi (rather than coca cola) made the best mixer. Although it works well in plenty of cocktails, just look here for the best ones.
Another nail in the coffin of love I have for this liqueur was when I was on a Geography (University) Field trip to Southern Spain. At the hotel we stayed in, Licor 43 was one of most consumed liqueurs, and I got a lot of approving looks from the people at the bar for asking for it. Even the lady behind the bar seemed rather happy I’d asked for it (it probably helped me asking it using its Spanish name).
A little fact I want to end on it something not a lot of people know: Licor 43, also known as Cuarenta Y Tres, is a descendent of the Mirabilis liqueur made in the Cartangena region of the Mediterranean. And was originally founded by four Spaniards, and that company, Diego Zamora, is still completely family owned.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Power of Cuarenta Y Tres
7 measures Licor 43
1 measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
8 measures Cranberry Juice
4 measure Passion Fruit Nectar
1 measure Caramel Syrup
Fervent twist: Top up Ginger Beer
1) Shake all the ingredients into a shaker and strain over ice in a hurricane glass.
2) For a slightly longer drink, use our Fervent Twist and top up with Ginger beer.
3) Garnish with the in-season fresh fruit, and a lime wheel.
This cocktail is the one that, for me, really brings out what Cuarenta Y Tres stands for, both in name and taste.
Keep a look out for an on-going set of posts sharing (and celebrating) Licor 43’s current cocktail of the month initiative.
So everyone enjoys a cocktail (if you don’t? Leave! NOW!), and I’m no different. But when it comes to liqueurs I just love a story. It adds a bit of romance to the bottle your drinking from. To know where it came from, and where it is now.
When I first started out on my journey up this cocktail brick road I met some truly wonderful liqueurs. There was the Tin Man looking for a heart: Disaronno, The Lion: looking for its courage: Southern Comfort and finally the Scarecrow searching for it’s brain: Cointreau.
Now let me briefly explain the above metaphors are by no means insults. They are just observations of where these spirits were, in my mind at least, around 8 years ago as well as their personal histories and challenges they faced…
The Tin Man: Disaronno
Disaronno is a liqueur through and through. The company claims the recipe was given to an artist under the guidance of the Leo Da Vinci, by a greatful innkeeper, then rediscovered several decades later and produced it for family consumption. If you fancy reading more about the liqueur’s history then click here and enjoy the story. I’m not one to call their bluff as I don’t care if its a fake or real story; I love it when liqueurs like this have romantic stories behind them…
The Lion: Southern Comfort
Southern comfort, back in my teenage days, was a lowly bottle of whisky-based liqueur on the shelf for about £15 (yeah I know, cheap right?!), I knew of three or four people that drank it, and they always recommended it, but everyone else I asked had either never heard of it or never tried it… Now you look for it, and it’s one of the most famous liqueur brands full stop. When you think about liqueurs, SoCo will always be on someone’s tongue. And to further point out its heightened market share it has, over the last couple years, released both lime and black cherry flavours (going back to their fruity routes with the latter).
The Scarecrow: Cointreau
I cannot remember a time when Cointreau was not a Christmas favourite, but always I have thought of it as more – I mean think about some of the most famous cocktails in the world, they all include Cointreau (think Margaritas & cosmopolitans). Now in recent years they’ve really gone for the jugular when it comes to advertisement, they are plastering our T.V. screens, they are subtly creating an air of affordable exclusivity. As recent as June-July this year they have held 4 ‘Cointreau Fizz Garden’ Parties where they invited limited numbers to attend the specifically designed Magdalen house rooftop (with an amazing view of the Shard I might add).
So with those explanations out of the way I’d like to think you have taken away 3 things:
1) My love for cocktails, doesn’t stop with the drinks, it extends to both the spirits and other ingredients.
2) Nothing is straight forward when it comes to describing a spirit. I like to think of things a little more creatively and to me, the above 3 liqueurs bring all the things above to mind when I think about them.
3) Liqueurs are great. And to prove this I’ll be sharing my top 10 favourite liqueurs below…
And with luck, tomorrow evening you’ll be able to see (a) were I’m going with this. and (b) that all important top 10 of my favourite liqueurs… And believe me there are some wonderful liqueurs on that list…