Tag Archives: liqueur

Tasting Notes: Xanath Vanilla Liqueur

There was a reason why I asked about State Liquor Stores were an archaic remnant of the early 20th century. It was due to this bottle of Xanath Vanilla Liqueur pictured to the left.

I’m not too fond of a great many of the schnapps and flavored vodkas that typically litter the shelves of these places. They’re either too sweet or they reek of hype . Does the market really support five different versions of cinnamon schnapps?

Because space is limited, when a liquor store maintains space for 50 different types of vodka, it means less space for other products. Because of this, bottles of liquor that are truly unique are often regulated to a “special offer” table, if they’re offered at all. Most of my favorite liquors that I’ve discovered over the past few years have been found in this fashion. I realize that I’m not the typical liquor store patron, but part of me still thinks that there are many liquors out there, both new and old, that are not getting a fair shot in the marketplace.

This Xanath Vanilla Liqueur is a perfect example of this. Both Tara and I were very impressed with the flavor fond within this peculiar-looking bottle. While the flavor of vanilla was omnipresent, it was far more complex than that. It carried very distinct taste of honey underneath the vanilla, and had just a hint of cinnamon beneath that. To Tara’s surprise, it’s not overly sweet. It’s a far more complex flavor than that of those found in the vanilla vodkas out there. It’s more viscous than the vodkas out there as well, having a mouthfeel more akin to schnapps.

It works quite was as an digestif, or even as a mixer. We’ve taken to mixing it with 1 part liqueur to 3-4 parts water, poured over ice and then adding sliced strawberries. It also mixes quite well with cola.

I know that when I go back to the liquor store, the chances are slim for me finding another bottle of this exceptional liqueur. That’s a shame. Because there are several gins and vodkas which could easily give up their space for this bottle.

We Get Letters v. 27: The Final Whidbey’s Loganberry Liqueur?

For those who have never tried this drink, this post will mean very little. But Tara and I (as well as several other readers to this site) are quite fond of this liqueur, so I thought it relevant.

From the comments:

I just heard that Whidbey’s Loganberry Liqueur is no longer produced.

Is this true? I now live in Connecticut and Had sent a friend to buy more and send
it to me. I guest my last bottle was just that.

Any comments about how to buy more would be greatly appreciated.


Mike xxxxxx

I have called Chateau Ste. Michelle to verify if this is true, and they have confirmed that they are ceasing production of this Liqueur. The only way to get more is to stock up on any remaining bottles currently available at your state liquor store. No more orders are being filled, and back stock is probably limited if there is any at all.

If you live in the Seattle area, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s gift shop still has a few bottles remaining, but you have to pick up the bottles in person.

Double Drat. This liqueur mixed quite well with dark teas.

Technorati Tags: Loganberry Liqueur, Chateau Ste. Michelle Liqueur,

Fernet-Branca Liqueur

Fernet-Branca is one of those liqueurs that will surprise you at least once. For some people, it surprises them twice.

The first surprise is the initial taste. As mentioned in this San Francisco Weekly article, “If you can imagine getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop, you’ll have an idea of Fernet-Branca’s indelicate first impression”.

Or, as Tara said, “change ‘nose’ to ‘throat’, and they’ve got it right”.

It’s a unique spirit, to be sure. An Italian liqueur, made in Milano since 1845. The Italians, when they immigrated across the world, they took this drink with them. It’s why the drink is popular in San Francisco, Argentina and many other places throughout the world.

Much like many cult drinks, it has a vaunted secret recipe. It is reputed to have myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, and a base of grape must. It is rumored to have codeine, mushrooms, fermented beets, coca leaf, gentian, rhubarb, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John’s wort, sage, and peppermint oil. Most of these are likely urban legend, there may be some truth in one or two of the aforementioned.

With the legends surrounding the liqueur, it’s common for some folks to use Fernet-Branca as both a spirit and a medicine.

My own opinion is that Fernet-Branca is that it’s a very complex and yet also a harsh drink. It has a very strong menthol aroma and taste. There is also a very distinct licorice flavor. Beyond that, it’s hard to pick out any other distinct ingredient.

It’s also a difficult drink to mix if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fernet-Branca is a bitter drink, which means that sweet beverages are probably the first place you should look for mixers. The best way I’ve found to drink this alcohol is to mix it with a cola. This also happens to be the most popular way to enjoy this spirit in Argentina. I’ve also had success with mixing it with ginger ale and a bit of grenadine.

All in all, it’s a good drink if you know how to handle it. It’s what I consider to be the antithesis of vodka.

Technorati Tags: Liquor, Fernet Branca, Tasting Notes

Found in the Aisles: Cynar Liqueur – Made from Artichokes

There’s really no build up, no introductory paragraph that I can give to this post that will explain the following:

Artichoke Liqueur, known under the brand of Cynar.

When walking through the liquor store, I had to have it, even if only for a conversation piece.

The liquid itself looks almost like a cola-color, with a slight tint of red. I mixed it in some club soda and tasted.

It wasn’t that bad at all. In fact, I thought it to be rather pleasant. The best way I can describe it is that it tastes like a milder Campari. There’s a bit of sweetness along with bitterness. At 16% alcohol, it’s not a strong drink.

I would drink this again, although I’ll have to wait until I have a desire for a Campari-like drink. It is a drink that takes some getting used to.

But still…artichoke liqueur. I would have never thought that such a drink existed, let alone taste pretty good.

Technorati Tags: Drinks, Liqueurs, Cynan, Artichokes

The Night of Coffee Liqueur

I had meant for the evening to be a bit of Sicilian Food and rest. Alas, Tara had different plans for me.

She and I had been going back and forth about Coffee Liqueur for quite some time. She had dismissed the Starbucks brand outright, and I felt that she was dismissing the brand, simply because of the brand name. We’re at that point in our relationship where the discussion of the minutia of coffee liqueurs is high comedy.

So a taste test was demanded. Chants of “Three coffee liqueur brands enter, one brand leaves” were heard throughout the west Seattle peninsula. Our choices for the battle?

Kahlua: The coffee liqueur from Mexico that is widely regarded as the best.

Starbucks: The upstart from our hometown of Seattle, bankrolled by the world’s largest coffee house.

Monarch: A last minute addition to the challenge, this coffee liquor bills itself as Mexican, with phrases such as ‘licor de café’ and ‘hecho del café en grano mas fino de méxico’ (Which translates to “fact of the fine grain coffee but of Mexico” on babelfish, showing just how effective babelfish can be) peppered on the label.

In truth? Monarch is made in Hood River, Oregon. *shrug* Go figure.

The results?

Kahlua: Starts off sweet, but ends a little musty.

Starbucks: This starts off harsh and metallic, but ends deep and rich.

Monarch: Sweet. A little…too sweet. It will be great over ice cream, but not so much in drinks.

The Winner?

In the end, Tara preferred the Kahlua and the Monarch and I preferred the Starbucks. So there are no clear winners…aside from the following drink.

  • 1 oz. Starbucks coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz. Irish Cream
  • 1 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps
  • 6 oz. Whole Milk

Mix and served over ice.

Technorati Tags: Drink, Coffee Liqueur

Absinth vs. Absinthe: Where Ignorance Loses

Tara and I spent Christmas Eve and a bit of Christmas day gallavanting throughout Vancouver. That’d be Vancouver, British Columbia, not Vancouver, Washington, for those of you keen on keeping track of things such as this.

One of the things we were keen on purchasing was a bottle of Amaretto Cream Liqueur, a tasty, overly sweet concoction easily found in the Liquor Stores in Vancouver, but not so much here in the state of Washington. While in the store, we were assisted by a harried, but helpful clerk. After procuring said Amaretto Cream, she asked if there was anything else she could help with. That’s when the idea hit me.

Absinthe. Canada sells Absinthe.

Tara and I made a request, and the clerk happily took us to the main office to look at the special collection. There were two options a cheap version and a not so cheap version.

* * * * *

The above scenario represents the quintessential opportunity for companies to take advantage of those who are ignorant of products. Here we have a couple who are only marginally acquainted with a product, and a clerk with even less. The couple has money to spend, but little knowledge. The couple did what the majority of people would do in similar circumstances.

They purchased the more expensive bottle, working under the assumption that more money equates to a more authentic experience.

* * * * *

What Tara and I ended up with was a bottle of Hill’s Absinth. Yes, that’s Absinth, without an ‘e’. With a thujone concentration of 1.5 parts per million, it’s not an absinthe in the traditional sense. In fact, some argue that Hill’s Absinth isn’t Absinthe at all.

After heading back to the hotel, we looked up Hill’s on the internet, and came upon bad review after bad review of the product. As the Wormwood Society writes, “Czech ‘Absinth’ (without the “e” at the end) gets a lot of bad press from absinthe enthusiasts; primarily, that’s because it’s not really absinthe, but a poor approximation. Most of it is fake.”

Well crap. Lesson learned.

Tara and I have decided to hold on to the bottle. After we move into our new abode, we’ll pick up a well-researched bottle of Absinthe and report on it here.

Meanwhile, we’re determining how to not let this happen in the future, whether it be Absinth, Absinthe, or other product where ignorance is seen as a valued commodity amongst producers.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Absinth, Absinthe

Lookie at what I found – Voyant Chai Liqueur

Voyant Chai Liqueur

So I found my self looking through the aisles of my local liquor store, as I am wont to do. Lo and behold, I found a bottle calling out for me.

“Kate! Kate!”, it cried.

I looked directly at the bottle of Chai liquer and gasped. They had done it. The bastards have done it! Looks like Santa Claus came a little early this year. I plopped me down some moola (around $20 I think) and headed home with my gotten booty (“gotten booty” being the opposite of “ill-gotten Booty, for those of you looking to the annotated version of Accidental Hedonist).

It’s called Voyant, and it’s imported from Holland. I believe it to be the first of its kind, but that’s merely a guess, not a hard fact.

It’s taste? It’s on the sweet side, so know that going in. It’s about half as sweet as Starbucks Chai, but about twice as sweet as traditional chai. It’s also a bit viscous, being a thicker consistency than Kahlua, but still quite good. Their website says the liqueur contains aged Virgin Island Rum, Fresh Dutch Cream, Black Tea from India, Premium Spirits from Holland and a Distinctive Blend of Spices from Asia (let’s call them the mysterious spices). There’s no chemical after taste that you get from time to time with liqueurs. But as I said, it is sweet. It should be treated as a dessert drink.

Speaking of Kahlua, it’s plays quite nicely with coffee liqueur, and also spices up your hot teas quite well.

Chai liqueur. I am one happy cat at the moment.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Chai Liqueur, Voyant, Liqueur