Category Archives: Liqueurs

Review: Kahlua Midnight Liqueur

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang out… and we’re gonna drink this new liqueur from the increasingly huge portfolio of products from Kahlua: Kahlua Midnight.

Midnight is a major departure for Kahlua, which has to date been happy to create new versions of its signature coffee liqueur by adding additional flavorings like you’d find in a coffee shop (various incarnations now include cinnamon, vanilla, hazelnut, mocha, and peppermint versions). Midnight is something different: A 70 proof monster mix of the classic coffee liqueur with rum.

In truth, even the standard 40-proof version of Kahlua has rum in it (it’s touted on the label), but it’s watered down and sugared up so those Desperate Housewives can sip it all day. At 70-proof, Kahlua Midnight is nearly full-strength booze, more rum than Kahlua — though it’s still just as black as before (caramel color is added). In case you’re unclear, the bottle is completely different than the standard tiki-friendly Kahlua one.

In all honesty, Kahlua Midnight — in taste — is not a great departure from its mother, standard-grade Kahlua. The coffee is clear on the nose and the palate. Rum, as with regular Kahlua, is really just hinted at, indistinctly and more on the undercarriage of the nose than in the body, where the strong coffee character is simply overpowering to anything underneath it. It’s got more of a boozy kick in the middle, but the finish is mild, dominated by a clear, fresh-ground coffee character.

What’s the point of Midnight? It’s primarily meant for consumption straight, on the rocks. God help the hacker that uses this stuff in lieu of standard Kahlua and doesn’t realize what he’s getting into.

A- / $24 /

kahlua midnight Review: Kahlua Midnight Liqueur

Review: Nahmias et Fils Mahia Liqueur

mahia liqueur 199x300 Review: Nahmias et Fils Mahia LiqueurFigs are one of my favorite unsung cocktail ingredients, so I was delighted to see that someone was finally producing a fig liqueur.

Correction: Fig and aniseed liqueur. Hrmmmm.

Mahia actually is a general term for anise liqueur in (Algerian) French, and this spirit (produced in New York) is inspired by that traditional liqueur — distilled from fermented figs — which is made in Morocco.

Continue reading

Review: Vecchio Amaro Del Capo Liqueur

Amaro del Capo 150x300 Review: Vecchio Amaro Del Capo LiqueurBorn in Calabria — the “toe of the foot” of Italy — Vecchio Amaro Del Capo (or just Del Capo) is a classic amaro made from 29 local herbs and roots. Lightly brown like a brewed tea, it looks a bit like whiskey in the glass but smells far different as it is poured.

Continue reading

Review: Courvoisier Gold Cognac Liqueur

Courvoisier is at the forefront of the taking Cognac into new markets, with brandy-and-wine blends like Courvoisier Rose. Now the company is back at it with Courvoisier Gold, a blend of Cognac and Moscato wine.

This actually sounds like a great idea — the brisk orange of the Moscato enhancing the citrus notes in the Cognac. In theory, anyway.

Alas, the theory didn’t really pan out this time. The nose of Gold is mild and innocuous, and the body brings out the constituent components of the concoction. Unfortunately, those components just don’t work together. The Moscato wine is understated and doesn’t offer much flavor, just a vague sense of something fruity that approaches apple juice, straight out of the juice box. This is spiked with a touch of Cognac — at just 18% alcohol, there’s really not much brandy in the mix — but it’s not enough to do much to the wine. A hint of vanilla is really all you get — and it turns out to be not very complementary to the Moscato in the end.

If you do try this product, be sure to have it chilled (as the company recommends). Served at room temperature, it’s tepid and raw. Chilled or with ice, at least you can have your apple juice the way God intended.

36 proof.

D+ / $25 /

courvoisier gold Review: Courvoisier Gold Cognac Liqueur

Review: Prevu Sparkling Liqueur

Blackberries, currants, and raspberries, all steeped in vodka and Cognac and given a light sparkling fizz — every component organic — what could go wrong?

The intriguing Prevu, made in the Cognac region, is a super-sweet concoction ready-made for the Alize set, where a touch of Cognac and a whole lot of fruit flavor rules the roost.

The berry components are heavy on the jam character, massively sugar-infused and ready for spreading on toast if only it were a bit thicker. Sip long enough and you do get all the fruit elements, the oily texture backed up with a fizzy topper. The carbonation isn’t heavy and it fades after 20 minutes or so, so drink fast if you want to get the bubbles.

Prevu is mainly promoted as a straight drink (on the rocks), but with its gooey aftertaste, I’d have trouble finishing a full glass. Consider instead as an alternative to Chambord in cocktails if you’re in a pinch.

C- / $30 /

 Review: Prevu Sparkling Liqueur


Review: Kahlua Iced Coffee Grab & Go Cocktails

You can pour your Kahlua into coffee, or you can get it in one-stop format, thanks to Kahlua’s new “grab & go” canned cocktails. (I’m not sure where you’re supposed to be “going” with one of these in hand, but that’s another story.)

Each of these pre-mixed cocktails are fairly self-explanatory, and each includes 100% Arabica coffee from Veracruz, Mexico. Each can contains 200ml (6.8 oz.) of cocktail and a mere 5% alcohol. (150 calories each, if you’re curious.) Here’s how the three varieties come across. All three have the appearance of dark coffee, complete with a small layer of crema on top when poured into a glass.

Kahlua Iced Espresso – Mild coffee with mild Kahlua notes, but a reasonable expression of both the constituent components. Somewhat nutty, with burnt caramel notes on the finish. Drinkable, even the whole can. B+

Kahlua Iced Mocha – Sweet, with more chocolate than coffee character, but neither is exceptionally strong. Not bad, but the thick aftertaste starts to coat the tongue after a while. B

Kahlua Iced Coffee with Cinnamon Spice – Like a Starbucks concoction, which is a bit much for my tastes. Very strong cinnamon and sugar on the nose, and plenty more where that came from as you sip. Like the mocha in the cloying department, times three. C+

$2.50 per 200ml can /

kahlua cans Review: Kahlua Iced Coffee Grab & Go Cocktails


Review: White Lion VSOA

Billed as the “world’s oldest naturally fermented, single ingredient spirit,” VSOA is a beverage that defies description or easy categorization.

VSOA is part of a group of spirits called arrack, which can can be made from just about anything (the better-known Batavia Arrack is made from sugarcane, like rum). This version (VSOA stands for Very Special Old Arrack) is made in Sri Lanka, and the amber liquid looks like whiskey or aged rum. But rather than being made from grains or sugar, it’s produced from the nectar of coconut flowers.

This nectar self-ferments without added yeast, after which it is distilled then aged in local Halmilla wood barrels for two years before bottling. Caramel color is added.

The flavor is light, delicate, and unusual. The closest analogue I can suggest is a watered-down, spiced rum, with a combination of sugary notes and slightly rough, phenolic notes — that pot-still funk — on the nose. Similar on the tongue: Very lightly rummy, with some baking spice, vanilla, and vague tropical notes in the finish. Coconut is there, but it’s faint. The finish is short, but there’s an aftertaste that lingers after the spirit itself fades — something akin to sandalwood.

The biggest challenge with VSOA is the body: very light and thin, it’s difficult to really get enveloped by. While the story behind it is intriguing, there’s just not enough ooomph to keep you excited.

73.6 proof.

B / $25 /

white lion vsoa Review: White Lion VSOA


Review: Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur

Let’s start with the natural first question: Mariposa’s not tequila.

Tequila is made from roasted agave hearts which are juiced and fermented. Mariposa is made from agave nectar — a natural sweetener that’s frequently used in margaritas and other applications — plus enough vodka and tequila to bring it up to 60 proof. Rose and gardenia essences are also added.

Mariposa, made by Kentucky’s Heaven Hill, is a true liqueur, and in fact it’s nothing much like tequila at all. Extremely sweet — you can smell the sugar — the nose really just hints at agave. Imagine sniffing a margarita where the bartender forgot the limes and you’re in the ball park.

Take a sip and you’re in for another spin. The sugar rush up front is powerful and almost bruising to the palate. Then comes all the other stuff. Tequila, sure, but that vegetal agave funk is less evident than you’d think. What is surprisingly strong are the floral notes from that rose and gardenia oil. Perfumy notes emerge on the nose as they hit the tongue, doubling down on the very flowery finish. The body is thick, a natural counterpart to the honey-like sweetness that dominates the spirit.

Mariposa is a tough sell, with a lot going on and no clear direction where it’s going. As a substitute for triple sec and sweetener in a margarita? Maybe, but the last thing your typical margarita needs is more tequila flavor. And flowers. It’s something I wouldn’t mind experimenting with and more exotic drinks (and in extreme moderation) but not something I’d likely tough on its own.

As a side note, this is our 2000th post on Drinkhacker. Thanks for being a loyal visitor!

B- / $25 /

mariposa liqueur Review: Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur

Review: Dancing Pines Chai Liqueur

Believe it or not, Dancing Pines is not the first chai tea liqueur we’ve reviewed. That honor goes to Voyant, a cream-based liqueur so nice we named it our favorite liqueur of 2010.

Dancing Pines is not cream-inclusive — it’s a straight, syrupy, brownish liqueur — and that alone is a curiosity. Chai — as it is commonly served in the west — is sweetened, spiced tea with milk, and taking the dairy out of the equation is a bit odd for us unaccustomed to “straight” chai. Sure, you can add milk or half & half to Dancing Pines to replicate the Indian bevereage, but Voyant’s approach I find is on the whole a bit more appealing.

The flavors in the Colorado-based Dancing Pines are rich and authentic. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves — the whole baking spice cupboard, really — with modest tea leaf undertones. Very spicy, and extremely sweet. The body is very thick and syrupy, to the point where tippling on Dancing Pines is like sipping Grand Marnier: Some may find this sticky sweetness appealing; others will be put off after a few overpowering sips.

60 proof.


Dancing Pines Chai Liqueur Review: Dancing Pines Chai Liqueur

Review: Caffo Limoncino dell’Isola

The test of any lemoncello, I suppose, is how much it tastes like lemons. Judging from how much homemade lemoncello is poured in Italian bars, it can’t be tough to make, and most of it is pretty good.

Caffe’s Limoncino dell’Isola is made from Calabria lemons and has nothing artificial inside. The color and haziness of a strong lemonade, it’s actually fairly mild compared to most lemoncellos I’ve encountered. The body has a good mix of tart and sweet — probably a touch more on the tart, actually — with a clean finish that offers a touch of earthy, honey character.

Good body, just about right — at 60 proof.

B+ / $16 /

limoncino dellisola Review: Caffo Limoncino dellIsola

Review: Lysholm Linie Aquavit

In 6 years of Drinkhacking, this is actually our first review of an aquavit. I say that to illustrate a couple of things: 1) that I’m hardly an expert in aquavit and you should consider this an amateur review of the stuff at best, and 2) no one drinks aquavit.

If you’re a novice, here’s a lesson in the stuff. Aquavit is a Scandinavian liqueur flavored with a variety of herbs but predominantly with dill or caraway. Many of the same ingredients used in gin are also used in aquavit. There are as many variants in aquavit as there are in gin, with many of those tweaks coming from the way the spirit is aged. Some aquavits aren’t aged at all. Some can be aged for more than a decade. Different types of casks are used, too, making things even more complex.

Linie’s story is this: It hails from Norway. It is distilled from potatoes. It is mainly flavored with caraway, plus dill, anise, fennel, and coriander (among others). And it is aged in oloroso sherry casks (fairly unique for aquavit) for one year. And during the aging, it is shipped overseas — from Norway to Australia and back — a lengthy trip that takes the spirit across the equator (“the linie”) twice over the course of 4 1/2 months. Why? Because the motion of the ship and the exposure to the salty sea air is supposed to do great things to the aquavit. Caramel color is added.

So there you have it.

Linie has a nose somewhere between gin and Jagermeister, heavy on licorice notes and, yes, caraway. The body is milder than you might expect, a lighter take on licorice with a strong caraway flavor. The sherry casks provide some sweetness (as does the caramel, I believe), but not a whole lot. This is still a moderately bitter spirit best experienced as a digestif. The finish is long and lasting, with a spice rack full of bitter herbal character that lingers for quite some time. Fair to good, but not something I’d turn to on a regular basis over an amaro or Fernet.

83 proof.

B- / $30 /

Linie Aquavit Review: Lysholm Linie Aquavit

Review: Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry

This is one of those reviews that I simply haven’t had the strength to write. I opened the bottle when it arrived, quickly put it back on the counter, and there it’s sat for more than two months.

As the name implies, SoCo Cherry adds black cherry flavor to the classic peach Southern Comfort recipe, to utterly cryptic effect. Original SoCo may be an acquired taste, but this stuff has a flavor that I can’t imagine anyone readily acquiring. The nose and the palate are both incredibly and unfortunately along the lines of cough syrup, with overpowering, saccharine sweetness. It overpowers the original character of the SoCo and leaves behind a mouth-coating and not entirely pleasant medicinal flavor — whether sipping straight or mixing with Coke (as the company suggests).

SoCo continues to muck with line extensions, but none have been very successful to date. The best I can recommend: SoCo 100, the overproof version of the original spirit.

70 proof. Naturally flavored with caramel color added.

C- / $17 /

southern comfort cherry Review: Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry

Review: Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur

Tequila, lime, triple sec – That’s a margarita.

So why not use a triple sec that’s made in Mexico, since presumably those distillers know best how the drink should be put together, right?

That’s the basic idea behind Patron Citronge, essentially a triple sec (and not, it should be pointed out, a tequila-based product). This surprisingly thick and clear spirit is made in Jalisco, made with oranges from Haiti and Jamaica and sweetened with cane sugar. Fresh orange character attacks the nose, along with just a hint of woody notes and a touch of green, herbal character that hints at agave. (Or is it just the mind playing tricks?)

I swear it’s there as you sip the spirit, a mouth-filling, vibrantly sweet liqueur that balances sweet and sour with ease. At 80 proof, it’s a hot one, though: Drinking it straight proves more than a bit fiery, and that “burn” may again refer you to some of the lesser tequilas you’ve experienced. That may be a pro or con depending on your approach to orange liqueurs, but it’s hard not to appreciate the pure flavor and bright citrus notes found in this spirit. Try it, of course, in a margarita.

B+ / $20 /

Patron Citronge Review: Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur

Review: Killepitsch Krauterlikor Herbal Liqueur

Dating from 1858, this unique herbal liqueur was developed by the Busch family in Dusseldorf, Germany. Formally launched as a commercial brand in the 1950s, the name was derived during World War II, by “Willi Busch, who, while in an air-raid shelter during the Second World War, promised to toast new beginnings with his friend Hans Müller-Schlösser if they survived. The message to his friend was, ‘If they don’t “KILL” us now, we will have a chance to “PITSCH”‘ (local vernacular for drink), creating the name ‘Killepitsch.’”

Made from a recipe that includes 90 different herbs, spices, fruits and berries that have matured together for over a year, this deep brownish-red liqueur was recently reissued in a “Design” bottle (pictured below), though the formula inside is the same as the bottle with classic white label, red lettering, and gold trim.

Unctuous and bittersweet in the Jagermeister milieu, this complex spirit offers an overwhelming host of flavors. Lots of cinnamon, cloves, and root-beer flavor up front, then ultrasweet dark prune and raisin come along shortly after. In the finish, the bitterness becomes increasingly apparent, and a certain nuttiness joins the fray. A slightly harsh conclusion recalls dark cherries, rhubarb, and a touch of Christmas spice.

84 proof.

B / $23 /

Killepitsch Design bottle Review: Killepitsch Krauterlikor Herbal Liqueur

Review: Stroh Jagertee Liqueur

The “Jager” might tip you off that this is an herbal liqueur, but don’t let the name fool you: Stroh Jagertee (“hunter’s tea”), hailing from Austria, is a curious blend of “spiced rum” — the “rum” itself is actually not sugar-based but rather an ethanol-based spirit, also made in Austria — and black tea, bottled at a full 80 proof.

A decidedly unique spirit, it does indeed taste like its constituent components. The tea is strong and fresh, the “rum” spiced within an inch of its life, with cinnamon, raisins, and lots of fruit character — orange peel, dried mango, dried pineapple. The effect is super-sweet, like a heavily-spiced pineapple upside-down cake that is drenched with tea. I’m not sure this is something I could drink on a daily basis, but it’s intriguing as a sweet after-dinner sipper in lieu of a bitter amaro.

B / $25 /

stroh Jagertee Review: Stroh Jagertee Liqueur


Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes with Flor de Cana Rum and Frangelico

Now you can have your rum and eat it too! Recipes courtesy chef Eddy Van Damme, in honor of July being National Ice Cream Month.

Flor de cana ice cream sandwich 300x199 Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes with Flor de Cana Rum and FrangelicoFlor de Caña Rum Soaked Raisin Ice Cream Sandwich

½ cup Flor de Caña 7 Year Grand Reserve rum
¾ cup raisins
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup + 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon Flor de Caña 7 Year Grand Reserve rum

1. In a saucepan heat first-listed Flor de Caña until hot but not boiling. Pour onto raisins and ensure raisins are well covered. Seal with plastic food wrap and allow raisins to absorb Flor de Caña overnight at room temperature. Toss the mixture occasionally to ensure that raisins absorb all Rum.

2. Bring milk, cream and sugar to a full boil and remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and second listed Flor de Caña and cover with plastic food wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

3. If using an ice cream machine that uses a bowl which needs to be frozen place in freezer and set freezer on lowest setting.

4. Following day: Drain raisins and add any non absorbed Rum to ice cream mixture. Place raisins in freezer.

5. Churn ice cream mixture, when ice cream becomes thick and is nearly done add frozen raisins. Place ice cream in freezer.

6. Sandwich ice cream between your favorite two cookies.

*For best results soak raisins and prepare ice cream a day ahead of churning.

Frangelico ice cream sandwiches 1 300x199 Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes with Flor de Cana Rum and FrangelicoFrangelico Ice Cream Sandwich

1 ¾ cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup + 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
Pinch salt
½ cup + 2 tablespoon Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur

1. In saucepan whisk milk, cream, sugar and salt to a full boil and remove from heat. Place saucepan into bowl filled with ice to chill ice cream mixture.

2. Once cold add Frangelico and add a cup or more additional salt to ice bowl (salt in ice will make the ice cream mixture super cold and make churning more effective).

3. Churn ice cream according to ice cream machine manufacturer’s directions. Once churned, place ice cream in a very cold bowl and freeze.

4. Sandwich ice cream between your favorite two cookies.

Review: Jailers Tennessee Whiskey, Breakout Rye, and Forbidden Secret Cream Liqueur

Today we look at three new whiskey products brought to us by  a new company, the Tennessee Spirits Company, a division of Capital Brands. Formed by a group of spirits industry veterans, the focus here is (obviously) on Tennessee whiskeys, with this trilogy the inaugural releases.

TSC doesn’t have its own distillery (yet) but plans to build one, including a visitor’s center. These three spirits are obviously private-label creations for now (one doesn’t just start a business and sell an 8-year-old rye the next day), and it will probably take a few stabs at this to hit the right groove while that distillery gets up and running.

Jailers Premium Tennessee Whiskey – A mashbill of 80% corn plus assorted rye and malted barley go into this whiskey, which is double distilled, steeped in maple chips, then aged for 4 to 5 years in charred white oak barrels. It is chill-filtered and bottled at 86 proof. Very fruity, it’s got distinct macerated Bing cherry character, then the wood — charred cherrywood — comes along after a bit. This is a hot whiskey with a moderate body, quite sharp, with a warming finish. It’s a Tennessee whiskey that’s hard to peg: It’s not the easy drinker of, say, Jack Daniel’s, but there’s so much fruit here it’s hard not to imagine it in a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. B+ / $25

Breakout American Rye Whiskey – A mashbill of 51%-plus rye (plus corn and malted barley) goes into a double-distilled whiskey that is put into white oak barrels for eight years. Like Jailers, it’s bottled at 86 proof. This is a tricky and unexpected rye. Malty and dusty, this has the distinct character of a whiskey that’s spent too long in wood. Some buttery toffee character lives on the nose, but it’s quickly subsumed by all that wood, coming together with a bit of a sawdust character. In the end Breakout just doesn’t have a great rye body to it, and the whiskey doesn’t ever come together the way it should. C+ / $45

Forbidden Secret Dark Mocha American Cream – A Bailey’s clone, though the “artificial liqueur” label on the bottle doesn’t instill confidence. Essentially this is a blend of Jailers Whiskey, cream, chocolate, and espresso, and it tastes like you think it does: Sweet, creamy, and and much like a boozy version of something you’d order at Starbucks. All the elements listed above are here, in a pretty good balance. If you like whiskey/cream liqueurs, you’ll dig this one, “artificial” or no. 30 proof.  A- / $25

tennessee spirits company Review: Jailers Tennessee Whiskey, Breakout Rye, and Forbidden Secret Cream Liqueur

Review: Dimmi Liquore di Milano

The Italian answer to gin and absinthe, Dimmi is an old (1930s) product now making a resurgence. Distilled in the Lombardy region in Italy’s north, Dimmi is distilled from organic wheat (like a vodka) and infused with licorice, orange peel, rhubarb, ginseng, and vanilla. Following this infusion, peach and apricot blossoms are infused into the mix, and Nebbiolo-based grappa is added to top it all off along with a touch of organic beet sugar, for sweetness.

Very pale yellow in color, Dimmi is a pretty enticing liqueur that, based on the above description, tastes nothing like you are probably expecting. The nose hints at lemon, but on the tongue it comes across with grapefruit character backed up with vanilla custard. This sounds like an odd combination, but imagine candied fruit garnishing a creme brulee and you’re in the ball park. (Strega is also a distant, yellower cousin.) But still, there is plenty of bitterness and sourness to balance out the sweetness here, and more than enough complexity to keep you sipping if you’re drinking it neat.

Lots of cocktail possibilities. Consider it in lieu of vermouth in your favorite drink if you’re looking for a way to get started, experimentally speaking.

70 proof.

A- / $40 /

dimmi liquore di milano Review: Dimmi Liquore di Milano

Review: Faretti Biscotti Famosi Liqueur

You can take the Italians away from their amaro but you just can’t get the amaro out of the Italians.

Faretti is one of those crazy niche ideas: a liqueur intended to taste like biscotti cookies. But stick your nose in a freshly-poured glass of the stuff and you’ll swear up and down you’re getting into something bitter. The nose offers root beer and licorice character, and not in a cursory way. It’s so intense that you’re shocked when you actually sip the liqueur, revealing an appropriately sweet liquid intended for consumption with (or as) dessert.

On the tongue it’s got almonds, sugar cookie dough, and a surprising amount of citrus. The lattermost flavor makes it a bit unlike any biscotti I’ve ever had, but it does help to give this spirit more complexity than it might otherwise have — and serves to make it a decently compelling alternative to amaretto, particularly if you’re into the bitter edge on the nose.

B / $20 /

faretti biscotti liqueur Review: Faretti Biscotti Famosi Liqueur

Review: Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao Ancienne Method

Triple sec or curacao are an essential ingredient in so many cocktails, and stylistically they cover a wide range of focuses. But they all tend to have one thing in common (well, besides tasting like oranges): They’re generally quite sweet.

And so it was that cocktial god David Wondrich teamed up with Cognac producer Pierre Ferrand to create a drier style of curacao. Fittingly called Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, this spirit is meant to take the often sickly sweet stuff into a more refined direction. It is made by infusing unaged brandy with Seville orange peels; this infusion is then redistilled, blended with Cognac and spices (including star anise, more orange, and sugar), then aged in barrels for an indeterminate time (not long, I’d guess). It’s bottled at 80 proof.

The resulting spirit is quite impressive. To say it’s not sweet would be a lie. This is, after all, still a triple sec, where sweet oranges are the primary character of the nose and the palate. Lots of vanilla and nut character in there too, with a particularly buttery body — though I didn’t pick up on the anise in the blend.

Overall it’s a wonderful curacao that would add a delightful spin to any cocktail and is also quite delicious consumed on its own.

A / $25 /

pierre ferrand Dry Curacao Review: Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao Ancienne Method