Category Archives: Liqueurs

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.com

Linie Aquavit Review: Lysholm Linie Aquavit

Review: Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry Liqueur

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 / southerncomfort.com

southern comfort cherry Review: Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry Liqueur

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 / patrontequila.com

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.de

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.at

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

tennesseespiritscompany.com

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 / domaineselect.com

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 / chathamimports.com

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 / cognacferrand.com

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

Review: Hiram Walker Watermelon Sour Schnapps

Wow. No.

“All natural flavors” don’t get more horrifying than this. Or more Kool-Aid pink in color.

I could go into detail about the flavor that reminds me of Jolly Ranchers melted into Chinese sweet & sour sauce, but let me leave it at this: I would have trouble imagining even the most desperate bum in need of a buzz knocking back more than half a shot of this stuff, and even then I know he’d probably be really angry about it.

30 proof.

F / $10 / hiramwalker.com

Hiram Walker Watermelon Review: Hiram Walker Watermelon Sour Schnapps

Review: Barenjager Honey & Bourbon

You just can’t kill this honey+whiskey trend. It’s so popular that now they’re coming at it from the honey side: Barenjager, one of the original honey-flavored liqueurs (if not the original honey liqueur), is adding Bourbon (from Kentucky, but of otherwise unknown origin) to its recipe to create a hybrid spirit just like, well, all the whiskey distilleries.

As expected, the German (nee Prussian) liqueur keeps the focus squarely on the honey, quite the opposite of most of these spirits, which let the whiskey do most of the talking. The honey flavor is rich and authentic, sweet and lightly smoky/woody, almost like hanging around a smoldering campfire. What’s missing is actually the Bourbon.  You get the lightest touch of it up front, just a little taste of whiskey on the tip of your tongue, but nothing at all that’s distinctly Bourbon. Whatever the case, the recipe does at least provide for a good balance of flavors. The body may be on the thick side, but it’s not overtly sweet or cloying.

But hey, it’s actually pretty good stuff. It’s a far cry from Tennessee Honey and other whiskey-heavy honey liqueurs, but if you’re looking for a bigger honey kick in your cocktail — or even want to sip something honey-flavored straight (it’s for my cold, ma!) — this new release does the trick quite nicely.

70 proof.

A- / $29 / barenjagerhoney.com

Barenjager Honey Bourbon Review: Barenjager Honey & Bourbon

Review: Tuaca Liqueur

Did you know: You can put Tuaca in a margarita to give it a sweeter, more dessert-like kick? To celebrate National Margarita Day (February 22, yeah, we’re late…) Tuaca sent us a bottle of this Italian vanilla/citrus spirit, the recipe of which dates back 500 years.

But Tuaca isn’t the only vanilla liqueur on the market, so I took the opportunity to compare it head to head with Navan and Licor 43, two of the other big vanilla liqueurs that are around. Thoughts follow.

Tuaca – Very sweet, distinct orange undertones. Big body, mouth-filling, and a bit cloying on the finish. 70 proof; Italy. B / $25

Navan – More of a pure vanilla character (complete with a bigger alcoholic burn), and with a woody, whiskey-like finish. A good choice for when you want more of a simple, uncomplicated vanilla character. 80 proof; France. B+ / $NA (discontinued, about $50 if you can find older bottles)

Licor 43 – Exotic on the nose, with citrus, herbal notes, and lots of sweetness. Less vanilla here than the other two, but more complexity, even some interesting berry character on the finish. My favorite of the bunch. 62 proof; Spain. A- / $26

Want to add Tuaca to a tequila-based cocktail? Try one of these…

Tuacarita
1 oz Tuaca
1 oz Herradura Silver Tequila
1/4 oz triple sec
3 oz sweet and sour
lemon wedge, squeezed
salt
lemon twist

Mix ingredients, including squeezed lemon wedge, in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tuaca Tropical Margarita
2 oz Tuaca
1 oz part Tequila Herradura Reposado
½ oz simple syrup (or Agave Nectar)
¼ oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 one-inch squares fresh pineapple

Muddle the pineapple squares well in a cocktail shaker (be sure to get all of the juice out) and then add the remaining ingredients and fill shaker 2/3 full with ice. Shake enthusiastically and strain over fresh ice into a pre-chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and (since it’s a tropical drink) a neon red cherry.

tuaca.com

Tuaca Review: Tuaca Liqueur

Review: Bushmills Irish Honey

Now the Irish are getting into the honey whiskey thing. Bushmills Irish Honey is the first honey-flavored spirit (to my knowledge) from the Emerald Isle, a simple blend of original Bushmills, Irish honey, and Irish water, bottled in the traditionally squared Bushmills-style bottle.

The results are solid. As Jack Daniels proved with its Tennessee Honey liqueur, the key to getting this category right is going easy on the honey. Really easy.

Here, the whiskey does the bulk of the talking, as it should, and the honey hangs in the background, always there but never pushing its way to the forefront. Instead it’s really more like a light bodied whiskey that has honey as its primary character.

Beyond that, however, there’s not much to report. Like standard Bushmills the whiskey component is youthful and uncomplicated, heavy with grain character, cereal, and heather. The honey itself doesn’t offer any clues as to its heritage — no orange character, and so on — just a pleasant sweetness. Put together it’s like a grown-up, liquified version of Honeycomb cereal. I mean that in the best possible way imaginable.

70 proof.

A- / $25 / bushmills.com

bushmills irish honey Review: Bushmills Irish Honey

Now That’s What I Call Dessert

Fernet Ginger Float at Park Tavern — Fernet Branca ice cream, shot of Fernet, Fever Tree Ginger Beer.

fernet float 525x702 Now Thats What I Call Dessert

Review: Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa Liqueur

Patron already makes a coffee-flavored liqueur, XO Cafe, and now it extends that line with XO Cafe Dark Cocoa, which adds Mexican Criollo chocolate to the mix of Patron silver and coffee flavors.

All the components are there. Chocolate with a touch of cinnamon hits you first on the nose. Take a sip and that Mexican chocolate character quickly arrives again. This is quickly followed by somewhat light coffee character, then a good slug of tequila. It isn’t the smooth number that you expect from Patron, with quite a bit of burn on the finish, but there’s plenty of legit tequila character in the finish. The body is oily — a bit syrupy.

But is that really what you want? Coffee liqueur lends itself to some pretty specific cocktails, and I’m not sure any of them is improved by adding tequila to the mix. Recipes that I’ve seen involving both Kahlua and tequila are never high on my “must order” list.

Still, if a Kahlua Cockroach (1 part coffee liqueur, 1.5 parts tequila, and yes that’s a real drink) sounds like it’s up your alley, then yes, without question, Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa is where you need to be.

60 proof.

B- / $20 / patrontequila.com

Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa Review: Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa Liqueur

Review: Mandarine Napoleon Orange Liqueur

Was Napoleon an orange liqueur man? My sources say he drank Burgundy and Cognac — like a good Frenchman should — so how would he feel about an orange liqueur being sold in his name? Well, guess what: This liqueur was made especially for Napoleon Bonaparte, and wasn’t offered to sale to the public until 1892.

Mandarine Napoleon is a Grand Marnier clone, a blend of straight orange liqueur and Cognac. The mandarins used are sourced from Sicily and Corsica. The Cognac used is a 10-year-old edition, which is quite aged and which, I would imagine, is used sparingly in the blend due to its relative cost. Artificial color is used to give it a deeper orange character.

The nose is pure orange, undercut with alcohol notes — understandable since this is bottled at 76 proof.

On the body, more oranges, with a rich, lightly oxidized body. Spices including cinnamon, licorice, and cloves, with plenty of sugar to sweeten the pot. The brandy mellows and enriches the concoction, giving it a warming, woody, and more exotic flavor. The body is a bit on the syrupy side — common for orange liqueurs — but it isn’t cloying. The finish is of course quite sweet, and lasting like an orange hard candy. I really enjoy margaritas made with Grand Marnier in lieu of standard triple sec, and I expect this would exceed in one much the same way.

I don’t have any Grand Marnier on hand (surprisingly) to compare this to directly, but if memory serves this is a pretty close approximation. Moderately sweet and enjoyable on its own and as a mixer. The retro bottle is a bit off-putting, but look beyond the tinted, textured glass and to the liquid within.

A- / $30 / mandarinenapoleon.com

mandarine napoleon Review: Mandarine Napoleon Orange Liqueur

Blood Orange Liqueur Recipes from Jackie Patterson

Jackie Patterson is a friend, a San Francisco bartender, and the ambassador for Solerno Blood Orange liqueur. She created all of these recipes to show off this exotic ingredient. They all sound delightful.

Star Ruby 1 300x234 Blood Orange Liqueur Recipes from Jackie PattersonStar Ruby
1 oz Solerno
1 oz fresh blood orange juice
1 oz Lillet Rouge
1 oz Hendrick’s Gin
Shake ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Blood Orange Fizz
1 oz Solerno
1 oz Hendrick’s Gin
½  oz fresh blood orange juice
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz egg white
1 oz soda water
2 drops orange flower water
Dry shake all ingredients except soda.  Hard shake with ice and fine strain into a chilled fizz glass that already has the 1 oz of soda water in the bottom of the glass.  Garnish with 2 drops of orange flower water.

Blood Orange Zinger
1 oz Stoli O
1 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
1 oz fresh blood orange juice
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz fresh lemon juice
4 oz ginger beer
Shake ingredients except ginger beer with ice.  Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice, fill with Ginger Beer and stir to incorporate.  Garnish with a blood orange slice and a chunk of candied ginger.

Neroli
1 ½ oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
½ oz Aperol
1 oz fresh orange juice (or blood orange juice!)
1 ¾ oz Prosecco
Build ingredients over ice and stir to incorporate and chill. Garnish with a blood orange slice.

Blood Orange Bellini
1 oz blood orange juice
2 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
3 oz Prosecco
Shake the Solerno and blood orange juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Fine strain into a Champagne flute and fill with Prosecco.

Cool Item of the Day: The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set

The line between a good cocktail and a great one can often be drawn with a sprinkling of bitters, staples of any serious watering hole and surely a part of any high-end home bar, too.

Traveling, however, poses a particular challenge. It’s one thing to throw a bottle of rye in the car for the trip to Tahoe. It’s another to deal with all the little things — garnishes, mixers, bitters — as well.

The Bitter Truth is at least making one of those easier with this fun “Traveler’s Set” of five miniature (20ml) bottles packed into a tin travel kit. You get Celery, Orange, Creole, Old Time Aromatic, and Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters in the mix. Not sure the Celery Bitters are essential, but the other four (sub Creole for Peychaud’s and either the Aromatic or the Jerry Thomas bitters for Angostura) cover the bitters bases of 90% of the cocktail recipes out there.

Fun stuff.

$18 / the-bitter-truth.com

bitter truth travelers set Cool Item of the Day: The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Travelers Set

Review: Mathilde Poire and Framboise Liqueurs

These 100 percent natural liqueurs from France are staples of many a cocktail bar. We recently tasted two of the company’s five available varieties.

Mathilde Poire Liqueur is a mild on the nose, and quite sweet on first sip. Pear isn’t particularly predominant except on the first rush of flavor. That sweetness grows and grows, leaving a thick, almost cloying finish on the palate — and very little pear character to speak of. This one’s tough to swallow (literally) in all but small quantities. 36 proof. C

Mathilde Framboise Liqueur is a raspberry spirit, deep crimson in color and mildly fragrant of vague berries. The taste: Pure raspberry jam, extremely sweet, loaded with Jolly Rancher-like raspberry flavor. Maybe some strawberry, too. It’s a much different (and less satisfying) beast than Chambord, the king of raspberry liqueur, which (compared side by side) is richer, earthier, and with a seriously pronounced nose. Chambord’s chocolate notes give it a lot more depth. In comparison, Mathilde is really a juicy, one-trick pony. 36 proof. B-

each $15 per 375ml bottle / mathildeliqueur.com