We like a Tia Maria or a Malibu as much as the next person, but sometimes we yearn for something a bit different. We don’t think we’re alone either, especially since the last few years has seen an explosion of interest in Mixology, leading to people becoming more adventurous in their drinking habits. With that in mind, we’ve scoured the world to find some of the most obscure liqueurs you can buy and have listed our favourites below.
Originating from Mexico, this liqueur dates back to the 1920’s and the Reyes family. It is made by soaking dried Ancho or Poblano chillies in a neutralised cane spirit. The taste offers a deep heat together with herbal and spice notes and can be drunk in place of tequila, rum or whiskey.
This unusual drink comes from Java in Indonesia and is distilled from fermented red rice and sugar cane. It sometimes has the addition of fruits, coconut flower sap or grain. It became popular in Sweden during the 18th century, thanks to the Swedish East India Company and is prefect for use in cocktails and punches.
This amazing sweet and creamy liqueur is from South Africa. It is made using the fruit from the Amarula tree, together with cream and sugar which are added to a base of fruit spirit, rather than rum or whisky. With its genuine African heritage, Amarula is incredibly exotic and leaves many other creamy liqueurs wanting. Delicious over ice.
Dating back to 1865, this unique aperitif wine is made in France from herbs found in the southeast of the country, close to the Grande Chartreuse Mountains. Herbs include bitter cinchona bark and gentian. The base is made from a fortified wine called Mistelle and it has a rather tart herb profile with a backing of red fruits.
Carpano Antica Formula
This liquor is produced in Milan, Italy, by Distillerie Fratelli Branca and is classed as a vermouth. It dates from around 220 years ago and is hailed as being the King of Vermouths, due to its uniqueness. It offers a refined taste and a wonderful vanilla perfume when drunk alone, yet is considered to be a pièce de résistance when used in cocktails.
This is a relative newcomer from California and is made from a delicious mix of aloe vera, lemon peel, cucumber, eau de vie and other delicious light botanical flavours. Drink it on its own over ice - wonderfully refreshing - or use in cocktails that will compliment the flavours, such as additions containing mint, basil or thyme.
This liquor dates back to 14th century Hungary and is a natural fruit brandy. At one time it was known as “The Water of Life” and considered to be a remedy for certain ailments. These days, Palinka is made strictly under a protected designation of origin licence; all stages of its production must be carried out in Hungary and the ingredients can be nothing more than fruit and water. Also, it must be bottled at a minimum 37.5% ABV.
Finally, one that would be remiss not to mention is this amazing, up to 75% proof, rum - definitely not for the faint-hearted. Try it in a Dark ’n Stormy cocktail, Bermuda’s national drink, which is a sensational mix of Black Seal rum and ginger beer.
So many delicious, obscure liquors to seek out and sample; life really is too short. Hopefully the selection given here will prove to be an excellent starting point for that journey around the global choice of fabulously unusual drinks.
Published by Muhammad Umer