Today we have a pair of liqueurs from Sukkah Hill Spirits: Etrog and Besamim. If those words sound unfamiliar to you, know that they have their roots in Judaism. The etrog is a citron used in the week-long festival of Sukkot. Besamim means spices and often refers to those spices used in the closing of Shabbat. Both are made with cane sugar (not high fructose corn syrup), without preservatives or additives (other than alcohol), and are kosher. They are also fairly high proof for liqueurs which is a plus in my book. Okay, let’s taste and mix.ETROG
Etrog is a lightly sweet citrus liqueur featuring the aroma of citrus blossoms. An Etrog is an ancient heirloom citrus fruit grown in only a handful of orchards worldwide. Bottled at 76 proof, Etrog is excellent chilled, over ice or as a base for bright strong cocktails.
I say Etrog is a citrus liqueur reminiscent of lemon candy. (It leads me to ask, “Why aren’t there more lemon flavored liqueurs?” Sure there’s limoncello, but I rarely see that used in cocktails.) Because there aren’t many lemony liqueurs it took some experimenting to figure out how to use Etrog. Most fruit liqueurs are just sweet, but Etrog is also a bit tart. While I could see Etrog playing very well with gin or agave spirits, I ended up going with a variation on the oft-overlooked Deshler, which itself is a Manhattan variation. When a Manhattan is just a little too dark and sticky for the weather or your mood, make this.
- 1½ oz rye (Rittenhouse or Wild Turkey 101 Rye)
- 1 oz sweet vermouth (Dolin)
- ½ oz Etrog
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice until cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a wide swath of orange peel.BESAMIM
Besamim is an aromatic spice liqueur with notes of vanilla, clove and cinnamon. Bottled at 74 proof, Besamim is wonderful neat, on the rocks or as a base in mixed cocktails.
I say Besamim tastes like aromatic bitters (think Angostura) turned into a liqueur. This is a good thing. There’s a lot of holiday spice flavor from the clove and cinnamon. Initially, I figured I could substitute Besamim for herbal liqueurs like Benedictine or Drambuie. Nope. Also, since it has so many similar notes, aromatic bitters become redundant. In fact, it’s most similar to Allspice Dram that’s common in tiki drinks. My solution is to use it in place of bitters AND sugar: Welcome to buck country.
- 2 oz bourbon (Old Forester)
- ½ oz Besamim
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- 2 oz chilled ginger beer (Rocky’s Ginger Beer)
Shake bourbon, lemon juice and Besamim with ice. Strain into an ice filled Collins glass. Top with chilled ginger beer.
I am not joking when I say this is in my top 3 cocktails that I’ve created for Bourbon & Banter.
Etrog and Besamim are both high quality products that I would be happy to have in my cocktail arsenal. I’m excited to play with the remainders of my samples. L’chaim!