Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Guide To Licorice Liquor

Well, no pictures today from Bar Tabac, but I shall pass on a bit of knowledge, or opinion.  I like licorice, so I also like licorice flavored liquors.  Sambuca, a bit too sweet for me these days, and that goes double for Anisette.  Strega, ah, great step up from Sambuca.  Then we move to Ouzo, Pernod, Riard and Arak.  Of course there is always Galliano of the old Harvey Wallbangers fame, belongs there up a step below, or maybe above, Sambuca.  And, then, the often overlooked Herbsaint, developed after Absinthe was outlawed, much like Pernod, but Pernod actually made Absinthe, and still around today (that is Herbsaint that is still around today, my last sentence was a bit convoluted, even by my standards).

Anyway, after having a bit to drink today, Ricard being predominate but also including most of a bottle of Sancere and a wee bit of Champagne (and a glass of whatever the woman sitting next to me left behind), I have decided to present you with my guide to drinking licorice flavored drinks.

To be avoided at all costs unless given to you by someone "connected."  In that case it will be high-proof and made from 100% alcohol stolen from a tanker shipping it from a  Midwestern brewery to a wine company on the West Coast that makes fortified wines (that tanker somehow getting rerouted to Boston).  If the latter, drink it straight up or use it to "sweeten" your espression, er, I mean your espresso (both, probably).  And you didn't here this from me.

See above, but can be consumed if nothing else is available and you are desperate.  Do not pay extra for "Black Espresso."  It isn't worth it and only stains your teeth.  This may not hold if you are actually in Spain, Italy, or Portugual.

Italian for "Witch."  A big step up from either Anisette or Sambuca.  Still sweet, but strong enough to make up for it.  Plus, any Italian restaurant that has Strega is, in my opinion, probably a good restaurant.  Only the good ones even know about it.

Over-priced and nothing taste-wise you can't find somewhere in the following list.

The Following List:
Ouzo, Pernod, Riard and Arak should be drunk, in my opinion, one of three ways.  Staight (think Root Boy Slim and Boogie 'Till You Puke), in a glass with an ice-cube and a spash of water, or, and one of the best, one part of the alcohol, five parts water and a couple of ice-cubes in a tall glass.  Absolutely refreshing.  Also, and try mixing with orange juice, a favorite of mine but not to everyone's liking.  I think it tastes like those little pumpkin candies you used to get on Halloween.  Back when little kids could actually go door-to-door and accept candy from strangers.

Ah, remember those old days when you could read comics at the drug store and buy everything you needed to make gunpowder as well.  Try going to CVS or RiteAid and picking up a couple of ounces of sulfer and saltpeter today.  We used to be able to shoot marbles a full-block, eh, but that is another story for another time.

And, one cannot forget Absinthe, newly legal in the United States, but drunk by yours truly in many a foreign country before then. Staight (not highly recommended), with an ice-cube and a splash, or with ice-water dripped over a sugar cube (probably the best, but I wouldn't make an issue of it).

In my opinion, of all those available. in the United States today, Pernod is far and away the best.  Pernod was, if not the first, one of the original makers of Absinthe.  When it was banned (wrongly, because of the wormwood), Pernod altered the recipe a bit and lowered the alcohol content (the real culprit).  Now that it is legal again Pernod has reconstructed their recipe to as close as possible to the original and upped the alcohol content back to a respectable 134 proof.


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trix said...

barman, i discovered Cynar last time i was in Italy. (pronounced chee-nar) it's not exactly licorice liquor, but close. made from artichokes, not that you would know it from the flavor. check it out if you haven't already.

Bar Man said...

Hmm, I will make a point of doing so. Thanks for the tip.

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bdkity said...

I was just watch No Reservations on Travel Channel. He mentioned the alcohol he was drinking in Sweden looked a bit like motor oil and tasted like vodka and licorce. Do you know the name of this?

bulla said...

Interesting BUT not one of the drinks to which you refer is licorice flavoured. The licorice like flavour of these drinks comes from Anise (a.k.a. Aniseed). Anise is of a plant family totally unrelated to that of the licorice plant.

The Scandinavians do indeed make a number of licorice flavoured drinks that look like motor oil and taste very strongly of licorice. (I believe the vodka is optional but understandable for many months of the year if you wish the "motor oil" to stay in a liquid state.) Whether they are made from licorice or from anise, I know not the answer. But if anyone can find a source for them I'm happy to dedicate a significant amount of the rest of my life to taste testing them.

Lawrence Fawcett said...

Your brilliant, who are you? I didn't know anyone outside of college park maryland ,1977 knew of root boy slim!You must be a state department kid too. Stunning bro. could not agree with you more on your whole postin! I'm trying to make licorice ice cream and came across your blog here. any tips for flavoring...probably will go with some clear sambuca as back up even though it ain licorice, might just get some arak too ! gonna go and have a taste of my absente now, is that really licorice, all these years i thought it was anise.