Category Archives: liqueur

Hardly Wallbanger

hardly wallbanger

November 8 is National Harvey Wallbanger Day. The signature cocktail of Galliano Liqueur,  and likely invented in the 1950’s in California, the Harvey Wallbanger grew in popularity throughout the 60’s (especially in California). The Sycamore Den bar in San Diego has given the original recipe a little twist in the Hardly Wallbanger. We also made this cocktail on our most recent podcast. Enjoy!

Hardly Wallbanger

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • shake with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with ice
  • garnish with a lemon peel “rose” (pictured) or a lemon wedge

 Special thanks to our sponsor Galliano L’Autentico

Merican Negroni

merican negroni, negroni with ipa

At Tales of the Cocktail this year, we were treated to a great cocktail menu from Martin Miller’s Gin, featuring both classics and modern. As soon as I saw the menu, one really caught my eye: a Merican Negroni.

Yeah, I realize “Merican” has taken on a life of its own, particularly on the internet…images of gun-slingin’ pickup truck drivin’ rednecks. But once you get past the name, this is an incredible cocktail and all the ingredients pair perfectly well together, plus it’s one of the few beer cocktails I’ve ever done here.

So here’s the concept: take a bitter Italian cocktail, the Negroni, ice it and top it with another bitter drink: an American IPA. Here are the details:

Merican Negroni

  • in a collins glass filled with ice, add:
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • top the cocktail with an American India Pale Ale – I used a local brew: Marble Brewery’s award-winning IPA.
Thanks to JCPenny for the glassware used in this photo.

New Holland Spirits

new holland spirits

New Holland Spirits was relatively unknown to me until I ran into them at Tales of the Cocktail this year and tasted their fantastic orange liqueur (more on that in a minute).

Born out of New Holland Brewery in Michigan, the spirits line is pretty diverse and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve tried so far, including their Beer Barrel Bourbon. They were generous enough to let us try many of their other spirits. Here’s what we think:

Walleye Rye, $40-50. A rye with more fruitiness than I expected. Spicy, yes, but there’s a lot more dried fruit and sweetness than I’m used to in a rye. I feel like this rye’s fruity flavor is possibly due more to its younger age than what it’s distilled from. It;s fun to use this to make more fruit-forward rye cocktails, like Manhattans.

Knickerbocker Barrel Gin, $35. I love barrel aged gins. They helped me transition from being mostly a gin drinker to whiskey. When you take a sip, this is in the very end of the taste you get a caramel-barrel sweetness that’s really great. We tasted this on an episode of the podcast as well.

Clockwork Orange Liqueur, $30. This is the drink that drew me to New Holland initially. A high-proof (40%) triple sec that can easily be a stand-alone sipper. I know folks who like to drink straight triple secs or curacous while smoking cigars, and this is leaps and bounds better than the $10 bottom-shelf triple secs you see at the grocery store. It’s not too sweet, it’s slightly bitter and spicy. I’ll be saving this bottle for high-end cocktails and for sipping.

As their distillery line is relatively new, there isn’t national distribution of New Holland’s spirits. Mostly available near and in the areas surrounding Holland, Michigan, USA, if you get a chance to try their line, you won’t be disappointed.


It’s time to talk about Jägermeister

Jägermeister and Jägermeister spice

Some spirits have a bad reputation. Often, it’s deserved and occasionally it’s more of a guilt-by-association situation. Jägermeister is certainly one of those “bad reputation” spirits, and I think in their case, they fall in to both camps.

First, an origin story. Jäger is an 80-year-old German brand, creators of an herbal liquor that’s a bit like an Italian amaro, a blend of 56 macerated herbs, spices and flavors. Jäger is aged a year as part of its production, then bottled and shipped out.

Now for the uncouth side of Jäger. Remember scantily-clad cocktail waitresses with trays of ice-cold Jäger shots prancing around your local bar? Seen frozen Jäger-branded “shot machines”? How about “Jägerbombs” or “Liquid Heroin”? There’s the fact that they’ve virtually ignored craft cocktail bars, craft cocktail makers, and craft cocktail enthusiasts, too. Continue reading

Amaro Lucano

amaro lucano

In the world of craft cocktails, amaros are a staple of the bar, usually multiple varieties. In the real world of people’s home bars however, these Italian bitter liqueurs have yet to make as much of an impact.

Amaro Lucano is one of many amaros you may find at your local liquor store. Of the amaros I’ve tried, there tend to be several camps of them. There’s the citrusy, like Aperol and Campari. There’s the cola-esque like Averna. Then there’s the herbal, like Cynar, Fernet Branca or this one, Amaro Lucano.

Lucano is the most similar to Cynar, herbal and spicy, though there are enough differences to set it apart. First, the alcohol level is higher, 28% compared with Cynar’s 16%. Because of the increased alcohol level, and likely because of something in the secret recipe of 30 herbs, Amaro Lucano has an interesting tingle when you sip it. It’s hard to trace the source of that tingle, but everyone who’s tried it has noticed it to varying degrees of enjoyment.

At $30, Amaro Lucano is definitely an enjoyable, herbal amaro. If you love to taste new amaros, and experiment with them in your Negronis, it should certainly be on your list of amaros to try.

Harvey’s Tiki Hut

Galliano’s vanilla-and-spice flavor profile makes is a pretty flexible liqueur in many different types of cocktails, from light and fruity to rich and savory. In the spring, we mixed Galliano with tequila in an Hola Harvey, and now it’s time to mix Galliano in a tiki drink.

Note that we’re using orange curacao in this cocktail (for the first time on this blog, actually). In the past, when an “orange liqueur” was called for, I’d just use Bols triple sec. The two “orange liqueurs” are different, though, and here’s a brief summary thanks to Camper English:

  • Triple sec is clear and based on neutral spirits. Cointreau is a triple sec.
  • Curacao is usually brownish, though can be orange or blue. It has color is because it’s brandy-based and sometimes aged, which also means curacao tastes richer. Grand Marnier is a curacao.

Without further delay, here’s Harvey’s Tiki Hut:

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 3/4 oz Galliano
  • 3/4 oz Bols orange curacao
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • shake with ice and strain into a glass (or tiki mug) filled with ice
  • garnish with a lime wedge

 Special thanks to our sponsor Galliano L’Autentico

Hola Harvey

hola harvey wallbanger

I’ve covered Galliano before, the famous electric-yellow herbal liqueur from Italy. It’s the critical ingredient that turns a simple Screwdriver into the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail. We’ve tasted it a few months back on the podcast, too (listen here).

For Cinco de Mayo this year, I found a tropical recipe that riffs on the Harvey Wallbanger that’s both easy and tasty:

Hola Harvey

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1/2 oz Galliano
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lime wedge

 Special thanks to our sponsor Galliano L’Autentico.

Underground Herbal Liqueur

Underground Herbal Liqueur

Time for a quick review of what an herbal liqueur actually is. It’s sweetened, which makes it a liqueur. Herbal means you have various herbs seeped into the liquid as it’s made: bitter herbs, sweet herbs, and all variety of spices. Similar herbal liqueurs include stuff like Chartreuse, Drambuie, or the many Amaros.

Underground Herbal Liqueur is distilled by Ogden’s Own in Utah (I’ve recently covered Five Wives and Porter’s Fire from them, too) at 40% alcohol and sells for a very reasonable $20. The flavor of Underground falls somewhere around Jägermeister and Fernet Branca. It’s a minty, syrupy, flavorful elixir, and like Jäger, they recommend you serve it very cold (Jäger wants you to keep their liqueur in the freezer).

So at a pricepoint similar to Jägermeister and lower than Fernet, the question is really why choose Underground? Because it tastes better, that’s why. The herbs and the minty finish, while syrupy, are balanced together very well and complement the spicier flavors of clove and cinnamon too. As a digestif, it’s a great-tasting dessert. You don’t really need to freeze Underground, either, because it tastes really good at any temperature. Though I love Fernet, a lot of people don’t, and the drinking masses will certainly find Underground comparatively better-tasting.

With the claim to “America’s first herbal spirit,” a great taste and a great price, too, there’s no reason not to pick up a bottle of Underground next time you visit the liquor store.

Porter’s Fire

porter's fire

As interest moves from flavored vodka in the booze industry, we’re seeing more flavored whiskies arrive to replace them. I recently heard of Porter’s Fire and had to try it – it’s a whiskey liqueur from Ogden’s Own Distillery in Ogden, Utah.

Porter’s Fire is named for Orrin Porter Rockwell, a guy I hadn’t heard of, but Ogden’s tells us: “With his long, flowing hair and beard and his run-ins with the law, Orrin Porter Rockwell was one of the most colorful characters in the history of the Mormon church. He was a close friend of Joseph Smith in New York. It is probable the Rockwell was the youngest member of the LDS church as its inception.”

Like we discussed in our podcast this week, it’s an interesting choice to marry your liquor branding with the Mormons (especially since they don’t drink), but it’s certainly a understandable branding choice for a Utah distillery.

Porter’s Fire is a Canadian whiskey combined with cinnamon and vanilla liqueur. It’s 35% alcohol, and I gotta tell you: the flavor of this liqueur is SO familiar and SO reminiscent of Chila Orchata and RumChata, that I had make a cocktail with them. This is very much a non-creamy version of those horchata liqueurs, I’d almost bet you that you would have trouble telling them apart in a blind taste test. You can also taste the same flavor profile of Five Wives Sinful (Cinnamon Vodka from Ogden’s) too. All 4 of those products feel like they’re seasoned and flavored almost the exact same way, and all of these make for some really simple, tasty Christmastime cocktails too. Here’s a cocktail to try (pictured above):

Sinful Cinnamon Cocktail (by Greg Mays)

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 2 oz Porter’s Fire Cinnamon Whiskey Liqueur
  • 1 oz Chila Orchata
  • shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a cinnamon stick

Pimm’s Cup

pimms cup

Pimm’s is an interesting liqueur if you’ve never had it before. It’s essentially an English Amaro, with gin as it’s base spirit. It’s a touch bitter, a little sweet, and sort of herbal, earthy and gritty. There have been as many as 6 varieties of Pimm’s over the years, but the original “No. 1 Cup” is the one that has stuck.

Here’s how you make the simple and refreshing Pimm’s Cup Cocktail:

Pimm’s Cup

  • in a highball glass filled with ice, add:
  • 1 1/2 oz Pimm’s No. 1
  • top with ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda)
  • garnish with cucumber
  • serve with a straw

We taste Pimm’s and make a Pimm’s Cup on the Simple Cocktails Podcast, too. Listen here.