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Hassouni

Essential liqueurs?

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So I've got most of my bases in the major spirits categories covered - 10 different rums, a few whiskies, tequila, a couple gins, rakı, absinthe, vodka (not that I have much use for it), some sweet vermouth, and I can't remember what else. I also have a 3/4 empty bottle of St Germain, an even less full half-bottle of Cointreau, a mostly full bottle of Luxardo Maraschino, and a brand new bottle of R&W Violette that has been used for about 3 Aviations. Have Angostura, Peychaud's, and Regans' Orange bitters.

I'm really into classic cocktails and modern ones that aren't super-frilly - not interested in lots of juices are super obscure ingredients or anything especially sweet. I love old fashioneds, pegu clubs, manhattans, daiquiris, sidecars, classic margaritas, and some newer things I've seen on DrinkBoy or invented myself.

It seems, from browsing credible cocktail resources, that to take things further, I'd need to add, say, Chartreuse, Benedictine, Heering, and I'm not sure what else. Some of these seem super-expensive, so I'd really like to know what the bare minimum is in addition to my already-present standards of Cointreau and Luxardo.

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Also, regarding vermouth, what the hell do you do with a whole bottle? I have a small bottle of Martini & Rossi red that has been sporadically used and living in my fridge for a while, and it doesn't seem that I can get any French dry vermouth in anything less than 750ml. I'd love to try some of the non-Martini Italians, like Cinzano or Punt e Mes, but have only seen them in large format.

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Campari and a brown amaro (such as Ramazzotti or Averna, both of which are widely available) would be my choice if you like bitter and "interesting" flavors. I use at least 5x Campari than Chartreuse, Benedictine, and Heering combined. That said, if you don't care for bitter, then I think you have picked three good candidates. I'd buy a 375ml bottle of Green Chartreuse if price is an issue. Benedictine comes in 375ml as well. You can also do good things with a quality apricot liqueur (such as Winter and Rothman), but I'd put that behind Chartreuse and Benedictine.

Re Vermouth: You may be able to find Martini & Rossi and Dolin in 375ml bottles. Keep them in the refrigerator and use a vac-u-vin to partially evacuate the bottle, slowing oxidation. I think that you'll find that sweet aromatized wines last a long time stored this way. I would not fear a bottle of Punt e Mes, Carpano Antica, Bonal Gentiane Quina, Cocchi Americano, etc. I rotate through these, enjoying them in turn. I also enjoy them on ice with a bit of citrus and sometimes soda water (if I'm trying to stretch the drink out a bit).


Edited by EvergreenDan (log)

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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You can always cook with the vermouth if it seems like the bottle might be hanging around too long. The dry ones are especially suited for making pan sauces. Sweet vermouth doesn't last long here, it gets used in drinks like the Martinez.

Occasionally, you'll find really good liqueurs in limited release in miniatures. I have gotten some good things like imported absinthe that way. They don't have the best per ounce/liter price, but, if you aren't certain you'll like something it's a small commitment.

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Thanks for the suggestions, I'll look for the half bottles - my half bottle of Cointreau has lasted about 2 years. I like bitter to an extent, I find a Negroni about the limit (or was it an Americano I had? I can't remember)

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I'm no expert but I think this one may be pretty subjective depending on what you like to drink. Personally, I'd probably let a lot of things in my cabinet go if I had to choose between them and my Campari, Lucano and Fernet Branca.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Well, I like drinks where the spirit is rather forward, and I don't like anything too sweet, or excessively bitter, but I do like complex flavors and interesting combinations. I've never to my knowledge had a drink with any herbal liqueur like Chartreuse in that, so I'm not sure if I'd like that. Is there any cocktail that Chartreuse really shines in that I could order at a bar and form an opinion?


Edited by Hassouni (log)

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Is there any cocktail that Chartreuse really shines in that I could order at a bar and form an opinion?

I like the Silent Order and the Green Ghost... with the Green Ghost I take minor liberties. I do 2 oz. gin : 3/4 oz chartreuse : 3/4 oz lime juice to keep the sweet balanced the same but add more herbal punch. So maybe it's not still a Green Ghost? Close enough.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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In addition to what's been mentioned above (my "essentials" are Cointreau, maraschino, Campari, absinthe, Chartreuse, Bénédictine and apricot brandy [Edit: I mean liqueur.]), can I put in a plug for crème de cassis? It's good for gin brambles, and it's wonderful with tequila. Plus, of course, blackcurrant is one of my favourite berry flavours.

As for the vermouth issue, I can relate: I can get M&R in half-bottles, but I don't love their dry vermouth, so I buy litre bottles of Noilly Prat, keep it in the fridge with a vacuum stopper, and end up using a bunch of it for cooking. I would love to be able to get half-bottles of it.


Edited by mkayahara (log)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Is there any cocktail that Chartreuse really shines in that I could order at a bar and form an opinion?

There's the Chartreuse Swizzle, a drink created by SF bartender Marco Dionysos (his member name here is cocktailgeek). At first glance it seems as if it would be too sweet, but it's very well balanced. And since the Chartreuse is the base spirit, it's a good way to gauge your interest in the liqueur.

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Is there any cocktail that Chartreuse really shines in that I could order at a bar and form an opinion?

There's the Chartreuse Swizzle, a drink created by SF bartender Marco Dionysos (his member name here is cocktailgeek). At first glance it seems as if it would be too sweet, but it's very well balanced. And since the Chartreuse is the base spirit, it's a good way to gauge your interest in the liqueur.

(Emphasis mine.)

Isn't that like saying a Martini is the best way to gauge your interest in gin? How many potential gin drinkers has the world lost because the only gin drinks they knew were Martinis and gin and tonic, both of which taste like Christmas trees?

In getting to know Chartreuse, I would recommend the Bijou.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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In addition to what's been mentioned above (my "essentials" are Cointreau, maraschino, Campari, absinthe, Chartreuse, Bénédictine and apricot brandy), can I put in a plug for crème de cassis?

Actually, if you add Fernet, I'd be happy with that. Benedictine isn't one of my essentials at this point, mainly because I don't have it and haven't tried it, and I'd miss my Lucano but your list would work very well for me... and I'll take the creme de cassis as part of that list too.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Yeah I've heard of the Bijou - I think something like that would be a good introduction, that I could just walk up to a better bartender in town and order.

Mr Kayahara, how many drinks require apricot liqueur?

Also what is the consensus on Cointreau vs other triple sec/Curaçao? Cointreau is great, but God it's expensive...

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Isn't that like saying a Martini is the best way to gauge your interest in gin? How many potential gin drinkers has the world lost because the only gin drinks they knew were Martinis and gin and tonic, both of which taste like Christmas trees?

Yeah, the Silent Order would fall into that same category. It's a powerful smack in the face and probably isn't the best way to check out green chartreuse initially. Tasty though.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Mr Kayahara, how many drinks require apricot liqueur?

I bought a bottle of apricot liqueur shortly after I bought my first "serious" cocktail book, Joy of Mixology, because it seemed like every second recipe in there called for it. The funny thing is, I can't think of any go-to recipes that involve it (the way that, say, a Stinger is a go-to recipe with crème de menthe), but it seems like it crops up in the strangest places, and it's good to have it on hand at those times. My latest favourite with it is the Youngstown Tube from Food & Wine's 2011 cocktail guide:

1.5 oz. London Dry gin

0.5 oz. yellow Chartreuse

0.5 oz. apricot liqueur

0.75 oz. lime juice

0.25 oz. agave nectar

Fernet Branca (rinse)

Shake, strain into a Fernet-rinsed coupe.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I don't think it was mentioned so I will suggest The Last Word if you want to explore chartreuse. Since you have

the Luxardo Maraschino already you can easily make it. Or if you have a competent bar nearby it is one to consider trying. Excellent but a pretty powerful drink in my opinion. But perhaps not quiet as strong as a Silent Order.

1 oz. green Chartreuse

1.25 oz. gin

0.5 oz. Maraschino liqueur

1 oz. lime juice

Shake ingredients with ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass.

Some recipes suggest equal parts of above. I like it both ways but the additional maraschino makes a difference.


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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Is there any cocktail that Chartreuse really shines in that I could order at a bar and form an opinion?

There's the Chartreuse Swizzle, a drink created by SF bartender Marco Dionysos (his member name here is cocktailgeek). At first glance it seems as if it would be too sweet, but it's very well balanced. And since the Chartreuse is the base spirit, it's a good way to gauge your interest in the liqueur.

(Emphasis mine.)

Isn't that like saying a Martini is the best way to gauge your interest in gin? How many potential gin drinkers has the world lost because the only gin drinks they knew were Martinis and gin and tonic, both of which taste like Christmas trees?

In getting to know Chartreuse, I would recommend the Bijou.

+1 on the Bijou, though to my taste the original version which is equal parts is more or less perfect. A little on the rich side perhaps, but hardly more so than a Negroni. Use a big boy gin like Beefeaters, none of that namby pamby lavender-cucumber-tarragon stuff.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Of course, the Last Word! A cocktail I've heard much about but never had. I'm sure the better mixology bars in DC can whip me up a good one. I have no issue with it being a powerful drink :smile: I couldn't imagine a full ounce of maraschino though..

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Also what is the consensus on Cointreau vs other triple sec/Curaçao? Cointreau is great, but God it's expensive...

Worth every penny.

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Also what is the consensus on Cointreau vs other triple sec/Curaçao? Cointreau is great, but God it's expensive...

Worth every penny.

The more recently available Combier is equally excellent in every way and a few bucks cheaper. Nothing wrong with Cointreau of course but more than a few bar folks I know and work with have found reason enough to switch to Combier and 86 the Cointreau.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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... - my half bottle of Cointreau has lasted about 2 years....

...Also what is the consensus on Cointreau vs other triple sec/Curaçao? Cointreau is great, but God it's expensive...

If that half bottle of Cointreau that's lasted you 2 years is too pricey, you should probably stay away from the Chartreuse :laugh: !

That said, I've found Chartreuse a most worthwhile investment. I bought it to try my hand at a Last Word as recommended above. I found that very tasty but I really, really like the Final Ward.

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Last Word is excellent.

Here are some apricot liqueur recipes.

Hadn't really thought about it but like the suggestion to use genever instead of gin on your website to make a version called The Latest Word. Although given the historical place of genever compared to gin perhaps it should be called The First Word!

Had also read about a version using a good rye in place of gin that sounds interesting called The Final Ward which is also on the KC website. The name is reportedly based on the NYC bartender who came up with it who was named Ward. Had been meaning to try it but never did. No time like the present!

Well, later this evening anyway. Now might be a bit of a problem...


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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Of course, the Last Word! A cocktail I've heard much about but never had. I'm sure the better mixology bars in DC can whip me up a good one. I have no issue with it being a powerful drink :smile: I couldn't imagine a full ounce of maraschino though..

That's because it doesn't. A Last Word is equal parts gin, maraschino, Green Chartreuse and lime juice. The usual going rate is .75 oz. of each.

Since you're in DC, I suggest you check out Ace Beverage on New Mexico Ave. up near American University. Great selection and you'll have no trouble finding splits of dry vermouth. As well as practically any rye you might be interested in trying.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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