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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bottle Buy: Amarula

Amarula

Even though my bar has grown quite a bit over the last few months, it's been a while since I properly introduced a new bottle. I'm particularly excited to introduce Amarula today because of a wonderful campaign they are running right now - keep reading for details!

A friend of mine who has spent a lot of time in Africa introduced me to Amarula several years ago. I fell instantly in love. It's a rich, silky cream liqueur that puts Bailey's to shame with its complex flavors and just the right amount of sweetness. If you think you don't like creamy dessert liqueurs, give Amarula a try before you give up.

Amarula is made from the fruit of the marula tree. This bright yellow fruit has a unique flavor described as a "citrus tang and a creamy, nutty taste." It only grows in sub-Saharan Africa and cannot be cultivated. The fruit is hand-harvested from wild trees to make the liqueur. The marula pulp is fermented, distilled, and aged in French oak barrels for two years. After this, cream is added to give Amarula its silky texture. The resulting liqueur has a rich and nutty flavor with hints of citrus and coconut. It's definitely sweet, but not tooth-achingly so, making it versatile enough to use in cocktails but also perfect to sip on its own.

Amarula

Marula fruit is a favorite food for elephants. When the fruits are in season, elephants will travel for miles to find trees with ripe fruit. Amarula has long been dedicated to the conservation of these incredible animals, and this fall they have launched the "Don't Let Them Disappear" campaign to raise awareness and support elephant conservation. Until the end of the year, Amarula will donate $1 of every bottle sold to WildlifeDIRECT to support their efforts to save the African elephant. So now there's even more reason to try a bottle of Amarula! You may even find one without the elephant on its label, an illustration of the danger of elephants disappearing within our lifetime.

Amarula

Price: $24
Alcohol Content: 17%
Popular Cocktails: Often served on the rocks or with coffee


Savannah Sunrise

For a cream liqueur, Amarula is surprisingly versatile. It works well with tropical flavors like banana, coconut, and rum as well as with dessert flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. I decided to play with this a bit in my first Amarula cocktail, the Savannah Sunrise: Amarula, dark rum, and Giffard Banane du Bresil (a banana liqueur) served over coffee ice cubes. The rum and Banane du Bresil bring out the more citrusy, tropical notes in the Amarula, but as the coffee ice cubes melt, they change the character of the drink and emphasize the sweetness of the liqueur and the caramel and vanilla notes from the aging process.

Elephant Ice Cubes

Plus, I made the coffee ice in these adorable elephant-shaped ice cube molds that Amarula sent me. It just doesn't get any cuter.

Savannah Sunrise

Savannah Sunrise

1 1/2 oz. Amarula
1 1/2 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. Giffard Banane du Bresil
Coffee ice cubes

Combine Amarula, rum, and Banane du Bresil in a mixing glass with ice and stir briefly until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over the coffee ice cubes.

Amarula Milkshake

You basically can't work with something as decadent as Amarula and not make a dessert drink. It's absolutely heavenly served over vanilla ice cream, so it seemed pretty clear that a boozy milkshake was the way to go. A little bourbon goes great with the vanilla and adds some depth and caramel flavor. It's so ridiculously good.

Amarula Milkshake

I garnished the milkshake with whipped cream and edible gold leaf, because why not?

Amarula Milkshake

Amarula Milkshake

2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 oz. Amarula
1/2 oz. bourbon

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream.

Props and liqueur supplied by Amarula; copper straws and strainer from Viski.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Teenage Riot

Teenage Riot

A couple of weeks after Luke was born, my parents came up to Boston to help us out. We instituted a pretty regular cocktail hour in the evenings - much needed after a day of dealing with a crying baby. My Dad loves Manhattans and Boulevardiers, so I started suggesting some other cocktails for them to try. Before long, a definite theme emerged - we were working our way through all my recipes with gin or whiskey, vermouth, and an amaro. We made Little Italys, Black Manhattans, Negronis, and Montenegronis. The Lucien Gaudin slipped in. I wish there was a general name for this formula, because this combination - specifically with bourbon and sweet vermouth - is definitely my favorite sort of cocktail.

Eventually I thought we ought to switch it up a bit, and I suggested the Teenage Riot. I first heard of this cocktail when the folks at Tipple & Nosh posted their riff on the recipe on Instagram. I didn't have the Cynar 70 and Madeira to make their version, but the original sounded right up my alley - my favorite whiskey/vermouth/amaro combo with some Amontillado sherry and orange bitters to boot.

Sure enough, I loved this drink. It has a beautiful citrus aroma. When you sip, you first get the bite of the rye, then the rich fruity, nutty flavor of the sherry and the Cynar, which stretches into a bitterness at the end. It would be interesting with sweet vermouth, but using dry keeps it lighter and balances things out. It's a beautifully crafted cocktail, and it's going on my list of favorites.

Teenage Riot

History: The Teenage Riot comes from Tonia Guffey of Dram, Flatiron Lounge, and Lani Kai in New York City. She presumably named it after the song by Sonic Youth.

Teenage Riot

1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1 1/2 oz. Cynar
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/2 oz. Amontillado sherry
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipe from Gaz Regan's 2011 Annual Manual for Bartenders via Cocktail Virgin Slut.