For cocktail geeks interested in the ingredients and history of what’s in the glass, get to know liqueurs, also known as cordials. Often made from a garden of ingredients, botanicals and fruits, many liqueurs were introduced hundreds of years ago as health tonics and sold in apothecaries to fix ailments. “Just as customers today visit their local bar seeking a wise, friendly bartender, patients would visit apothecaries to discuss curatives for their ills,” says Warren Brobrow, author of the new book, Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today (Fair Winds Press, 2013).
In Colorado, many distillers are bringing these oldschool cordials back in popularity. Mixologists use liqueurs to add complexity and layers to cocktails. Often these flavors can’t be pinned down, but the drink wouldn’t be the same without them. Here we focus on three that are uniquely alpine.
Leopold Bros.,Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur
Colorado’s best mixologists love Three Pins, not only for its name (slang for local telemark skiers) but also for its herbaceous qualities. Leopold Bros. uses mountain herbs with ginkgo biloba, echinacea, coriander and orange zest. Try it with whiskey, calvados and apple cider. leopoldbros.com
J&L Distilling Company, Fyr Liqueur
If you’ve skied or hiked in the European Alps, cinnamon schnapps was likely at the bar. J&L Distilling is introducing Colorado to this tradition with its Fyr Liqueur. It’s ginger, spice and everything nice in a glass. Unlike other distillers that use grain spirits as a base, J&L uses a distilled cane molasses as a smooth foundation for all its spirits. jldistilling.com
Golden Moon Distillery, Crème de Violette
This distiller in Golden uses hand-selected blue violet flower buds for this unique liqueur. It’s pure Colorado, where clean distilling meets Alpine wildflowers. Other brands use artificial violet flavoring, but Golden Moon focuses on the purity of real violets for its Crème de Violette. It pairs beautifully with gin. See the recipe for the Golden Eagle, a vintage cocktail that is taking flight again.
Winter chill gets a new meaning at Bonefish Grill with the new Cold Snap Cosmo. It’s so cold the sta will give you mittens to hold the glass. James Beard-recognized Charlotte Voisey created the Cold Snap Cosmo served in a glass made completely out of ice. It features small-batch Icelandic Reyka vodka; Solerno, a blood orange liquor; and fresh blood orange juice. The two-time Golden Spirit Award winner crafted this cocktail to please the most discerning drinkers. Available at Bonefish Grill from March 4 through the end of April. bonefishgrill.com