It can be tough during social distancing to show our friends and family that we care, especially if we are stuck in a different city during spring’s big events, like Mother’s and Father’s days, college graduations and even just a regular old Saturday where you know you’re friends are really, really bored.
One way to brighten someone’s mood is to send them in a new liqueur to try. Sometimes these sweeter, flavored spirits don’t get the due of your star whiskey and gins, but, can help people get creative and have some fun.
I’ve rounded up some of the best liqueurs to try depending on what you (or your friend, loved one, random you want to talk to more) likes, and a cocktail recipe to get you going. Some brands are doing fun digital activities now — so mix up a drink, hop on a Facetime call, check out a digital class or organize a Zoom happy hour and raise spirits.
For vanilla lovers: Licor 43
This Spanish liqueur has been around since the 1940s, but is said to be inspired by a 2,000-year-old drink from the Romans called “Liquor Mirabilis” made in Cartagena. The golden, vanilla-heavy sweet liqueur can be used in a variety of punches and cocktails, but everyone should try it in a Carajillo. I first had one several years ago in Mexico, and had a “oh my god this is so good I have to start telling people about it now and have one after every meal” moment. In Spain, Carajilos are a hot coffee drink spiked in a variety of different ways, but the (amazing) Mexican version is served cold and always with Licor 43.
Here’s how to make it:
1.75 ounces Licor 43
One hot strong espresso coffee (luke warm is fine)
Like a more flexible James Bond ordering a martini, you can serve it either shaken or stirred.
Shaken: Pour Licor 43 into a cocktail shaker, and add espresso and ice cubes. Shake and strain into a glass full of ice.
Stirred: Half fill a glass with ice cubes and pour Licor 43 over the top. Serve alongside the cup of espresso and, before drinking, pour the coffee over the liqueur and stir.
For floral fans: St-Germain
This elderflower liqueur has launched a whole slate of digital weekend lifestyle programming with its new Moment Du Jour initiative. The brand is teaming up with bartenders around the country and lifestyle experts in topics like gastronomy, style and home décor. For Mother’s Day, the brand is hosting a slow flow yoga class with a chance to win prizes (RSVP for class invite and raffle entry at firstname.lastname@example.org) and a movie matinee showing of “The Farewell” hosted by St-Germain ambassador Erikx DiSantis through Netflix Party and Kast. If you live in one of the several cities with Drizly (which offers same-day delivery for Mother’s Day procrastinators), get a discount on a bottle with the code STGERMAINSPRITZ.
There will be more weekends of programming ahead. Follow on Instagram for the Moment Du Jour and get recipes like the Paint Your Escape, created by mixologist Brian Evans from Brooklyn. Here’s how to make it:
¾ parts / 20mL St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
¾ parts / 20mL Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin
1 part / 30mL Pineapple Juice
4 parts / 15mL Lime Juice
3 scoops of coconut sorbet or gelato
Blend and top with sparkling wine. Add a lime wheel and lime zest for garnish.
For licorice lovers: Pastis
If you’re new to this French liqueur (or even if you’re a pro), one iconic one to try is Henri Bardouin. The recipe dates back more than a century and includes 65 herbs and spices, including fennel, thyme, green anise, Chinese star anise, American tonka beans, and Guinea pepper — but the full recipe isn’t public.
Making the traditional and dead-simple two-ingredient “cocktail” is something of a magic trick. Combine 1.5 ounces of Pastis with 4 ounces of cool water. The golden liqueur turns a milky white. Sip it slowly with a friend (over Zoom or Facetime these days, sigh) and snack on chickpeas and olives. Not a bad way to while away an afternoon, even if you are stuck in your own home.
For cold brew fans: Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
This Australian cold brew liqueur is for serious coffee nerds — the distillery has a coffee roastery on site to create a special blend. The final produce is made with 10 times the coffee and about half the sugar as other coffee liquors. It’s complex and bold and gives drinks a real umph. So you know, get buzzed while getting, well, buzzed. Put it in an espresso martini, and you’ll fall in love with the drink all over again.
Here’s how to make it:
1 ounce Mr Black
1 ounce Vodka
1 ounce Espresso
1/3 ounce simple syrup
Shake hard with ice. Strain into coupe. Garnish with a coffee bean.
If you like peach: Mathilde Pêche
These French liqueurs come in a variety of flavors — cassis, strawberry, pear and orange — but the peach is a standout. It’s the platonic ideal of ripe peach flavor then multiplied by 10 times for intensity. You can go classy and combine one ounce of Mathilde Pêche with four ounces of Champagne for a bellini, or make your own homemade slightly spiked peach cream soda by adding it to club soda or seltzer. It was also suggested to me that I try drizzling it over vanilla ice cream, and yes, I am at the point of social isolation where I consider ice cream + peach liqueur a very valid and delicious cocktail.
If you like raspberries: Chambord
Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur made in the Loire Valley in France. You can use it in an easy Chambord Royale with Champagne, but an interesting application is to use it in a simple syrup to add another element of flavor to traditional cocktails like the Irish Coffee. This recipe comes from Slane, and the addition of raspberry flavor highlights the fruity and vanilla notes in the whiskey.
1 Part Slane Whiskey
? parts Chambord Simple Syrup *
Freshly brewed Espresso Coffee
Whipped Cream **
Prepare Espresso Shot. Add boiling water to halfway in the glass. Add Chambord syrup, espresso and whiskey. Top with a cream float and garnish with chocolate shavings.
* Syrup Recipe
1 Part Granulated Sugar
1 Part Chambord
Heat in a small saucepan and slowly reduce.
**Chambord Whipped Cream
1.5 cup Chilled Heavy Whipping Cream
1 ounce Chambord
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cream should be straight from the refrigerator. Whip until cream has slight peaks that do not hold. Add more sugar or liqueur to taste. Beat another minute or two until cream is whipped and has peaks that bend and curl at the tips.
For marzipan fans: Disaronno Velvet
Disaronno is an Italian amaretto liqueur with an almond taste. Disaronno Velvet is a new cream addition to the line which is ideal for fans of marzipan. It can be sipped over ice, or you can experiment with it in cocktails like the Velvet Godfather.
50 ml Disaronno Velvet
50 ml whiskey
Optional: 1 to 2 spoons of apricot jam
Shake in a cocktail shaker and strain over ice.
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