Sip or Treat: Luscious Bottles for Liqueur Day
Posted On: October 15, 2015
By Ruth Tobias, CSX Contributor
In the immortal words of Ogden Nash: Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker. By corollary, Halloween’s okay, but it’s no Liqueur Day, when luscious after-dinner libations are worth their weight in gold-foiled chocolate bars. Before October 16 comes and goes, you’ll want to take to stock of—and stock up on—the current crop of craft cordials.
Right in line with the resurgence of tropical cocktails is the recent influx of complementary liqueurs flavored with everything from coconut and pineapple to allspice and hibiscus. The latter takes center stage in Sorel Liqueur, Red Hook distillery Jack from Brooklyn’s homage to Caribbean sorrel tea and the rum punch based thereon. As eponymous co-owner Jack Summers notes, hibiscus happens to be “more acidic than most citrus fruits,” so infusing it with sweeteners for balance is an island tradition he naturally heeds. Think cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and other baking spices, which help explain why he recommends serving Sorel neat and warm as well as mixing it with rum and other brown spirits. Use it “instead of vermouth in a Manhattan to pop out the woody notes” lent by the nutmeg.
Speaking of spices and rum, you can bet King’s Ginger Liqueur owes its existence to the British Empire’s fondness for both. Created by Berry Bros. & Rudd for Edward VII to feature fresh ginger root and a high ABV (41%), it’s a curiously strong liqueur with obvious application in, say, a Dark and Stormy or Hot Toddy. Elizabeth Staino, category manager for Berry Bros. partner Anchor Distilling Company, favors adding it to mulled cider—which sounds like a swell alternative to those caramel apples you were planning on making for your Halloween shindig. But for a refreshing twist, she adds, its “bright flavor works well with Champagne or tonic water” too.
Meanwhile, if you’re already counting down the weeks until Thanksgiving, Todd Leopold’s on your wavelength. Inspired by his “favorite holiday,” he and his brother Scott—founders of the Denver distillery aptly called Leopold Bros.—added New England Cranberry Liqueur to their already extensive portfolio back in 2009. “With such a mild sweetness as well as nice dry and tart elements,” he says, it offers “a lovely way to lend brightness to cocktails without over-sweetening them.” Clear spirits in particular act as a showcase for its “vibrant red” hue.
So long as you’re dreaming up drinks that pay tribute to Native American food ways, you might also consider Rivulet Artisan Pecan Liqueur. Like cranberries, pecans are indigenous to North America, though their roots are (literally) in the Deep South rather the Northeast. In fact, it was his memory of the nuts his great aunt sent his family every Christmas that led James Marshall to found C88 Holdings, LLC, and start production in Louisville, Kentucky. With a brandy base, Rivulet can add a luxurious touch to brandy cocktails such as Sidecars, Marshall notes. Of course, “it can also be substituted where other nut liqueurs are traditionally used,” and its affinity for Bourbon surely goes without saying.