Browsed by
Tag: Suze

Friday Musings: Illuminate Me

Friday Musings: Illuminate Me

Back in October I wrote a Friday Musings post about a drink from Death & Co. called Terrible Love. I questioned what the phrase really meant and asked you all to think about who your terrible love might be. I speculated that it might be a love that was bad for us, or one that could simply never be because of circumstances, or one that left us heartbroken. In the worst case scenario, it could be all three. I called that one the Trifecta of Terrible Love. Lately I’ve been reflecting on the idea again, particularly about the process we go through in trying to

Read More Read More

Overdraft Protection: A Riff on a White Negroni

Overdraft Protection: A Riff on a White Negroni

By now I’m sure you’ve all realized that if gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and rum are the main actors on the stage, there are also loads of supporting players without whom cocktails would just never happen. Two weeks ago we talked a lot about vermouth, a fortified wine that’s been infused with lots of botanicals. Vermouth’s role in a cocktail is to bring down the alcohol content, to contribute herbal elements, and to echo flavors in the main spirit. Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge are similar to Vermouth in that they are also fortified wines, but rather than being infused with botanicals, they have fruit liqueurs (mostly citrus) added in. This gives them a completely different taste profile with very little bitterness to speak of. They are readily available in most liquor stores, are reasonably priced, and they work well with virtually all the spirits. They are also excellent on their own as apertifs, served well-chilled over ice with a twist of citrus.

Today we’ll focus on Lillet Blanc, whose great claim to fame is that it’s one of the ingredients in the Vesper, a cocktail loved by James Bond. Blended from white Bordeaux grapes, Lillet Blanc is incredibly well-balanced, light in alcohol, and very refreshing. Being the huge Negroni fan that I am, I wanted to do a white version using Liberty Gin from Palmer Distilling in nearby Manyunk, Lillet Blanc, and Suze d’Autrefois. The Lillet Blanc replaces the sweet red vermouth in the traditional recipe for a Negroni, and the Suze replaces the Campari, bringing a good amount of floral flavor, sweetness, and bitterness all at once. All 3 spirits in this drink work extremely well together, playing off the others’ flavors, and creating a very harmonious whole. Although I thought it was fine just the way it was, I wanted to put my own spin on it and I did so by introducing some bitters. I tried a number of combinations and landed on 1 dash of Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters to liven things up, and 1 dash of DRAM lavender lemon balm bitters to smooth things out. I could definitely taste every element in this drink, starting with the clean juniper of the gin, right into the bitter sweetness of the Suze, and finishing up with the citrus and white wine notes of the Lillet Blanc.

One final thought: because Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge are wines, they need to be kept refrigerated, as does any spirit with an ABV less that 20%.

Overdraft Protection

1 oz Palmer Distilling Liberty Gin
1 oz Suze d’Autrefois
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 dash Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters
1 dash DRAM lavender lemon balm bitters

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass. Fill ⅔ full with ice and stir 30 seconds or until well chilled. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over 1 large cube. Garnish with a grapefruit twist. Enjoy!

Suze: One more French bitter apertif to try.

Suze: One more French bitter apertif to try.


Yesterday we talked about Bonal Gentiane Quina. Today we move on to Suze Saveur d’Autrefois. Makes you begin to appreciate what a nice name Gin is, right?? Thankfully we’ll be shortening today’s French apertif to just Suze, pronounced exactly as it appears. Created in the late 19th century by Fernand Moureaux, Suze is said to either have been named after Moureaux’s sister-in-law Suzanne, or after a river in Switzerland. (If I was Suzanne I would be fairly annoyed about this controversy.) Suze is made from the gentian plant, also one of the main ingredients in Bonal. Unlike Bonal, however, Suze is not a fortified wine, but rather a distilled spirit, and that makes the gentian flavor quite a bit stronger. It’s fairly vegetal, like some type of greens you’d pick in the garden. That’s where the bitterness comes in, and yet there’s a citrusy sweetness here too. It has a startling bright yellow color, and it’s amazing on it’s own, over ice, or in cocktails. Just a teaspoon of it will completely transform a martini’s flavor, or you can try it in a Suze and tonic with 2 to 1 proportions, garnished with a twist of lemon or grapefruit.

Today’s cocktail is my spin on the Moulin Rouge #2, created by François Vera from Pour Vous in Los Angeles. shared his recipe on their website. I chose this drink because of its beautiful color, and because I couldn’t wait to see how the strawberry and vanilla flavors worked with 3 different types of bitters! I used Stateside vodka distilled right here in Kensington, Madagascar vanilla bean paste instead of the extract, and Scrappy’s Orleans bitters. The end result really wowed me. The bitters and the lemon juice prevent the strawberry and vanilla from being too sweet, so you have a refreshingly, crisp drink rather than one that is overly cloying. The champagne float gives the cocktail effervescence and elegance, making it another great choice for a before dinner drink during the holiday season!


Moulin Rouge #2

1 ounce Stateside vodka
¾ ounce Amaro Nonino
½ ounce Suze*
1 barspoon Madagascar vanilla bean paste or extract
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce fresh strawberry juice from about 5 muddled strawberries
3 dashes Scrappy’s Orleans bitters
Sparkling rosé champagne to top

Add all the ingredients (except the sparkling rosé) to the bottom half of a shaker tin. Add your one large cube and 2 small (if you have them on hand) and shake for 15-20 seconds until very cold. Double strain using Hawthorne and mesh strainers into a champagne flute. Top with the rosé champagne and garnish with a strawberry. Enjoy!

*Suze can be found at Canal’s in Pennsauken or Benash Liquors in Cherry Hill.


Friday Musings: Closing out Summer 2016

Friday Musings: Closing out Summer 2016


Next week it will officially be fall and the summer of 2016 will finally come to an end. I have to admit that I’m more than ready. Mine started off on such a high note with a fabulous trip to Paris and then it went in a somewhat unexpected and sad direction. Though I’m tempted to close it out without any ceremony, I still see the need to raise a glass and respectfully say goodbye. After all, it may be cliché but it is certainly still true that we often gain the most from people and situations that deeply disappoint us. Since Friday is my day to give you my take on things, I decided to come up with a cocktail that reflects the transition between the two seasons, and the way in which that change isn’t always easy. Summer wants to hold on, but ultimately fall wins out. It goes that way in our personal lives too. If I sound extra dreamy to you today, blame it on the full moon lunar eclipse that’s happening in Pisces. How’s that for some astrology! It’s supposed to bring closure to whatever has been troubling us, and usher in a whole new cycle of peaceful energy. I say amen to that and I wish it for all of you too.

Now about that cocktail! I put a little fall twist on a Cucumber Collins which I tend to think of mainly as a classic summer drink. I started with Tanqueray gin, lemon juice, cucumbers, and basil – those are my summer ingredients. Then I added Suze (a somewhat bitter, slightly spicy liqueur), Velvet Falernum (smells just like the spice drops we ate as kids), Laird’s Applejack (nothing says fall like apples), and a ripe fig. The aroma of the cucumber and basil hit you first, but then the deeper, spicier flavors take over. Summer into fall. It totally worked for me; I hope it does for you too! If you’re local, both the Suze and the Laird’s are available at Benash Liquors on Rte. 38 in Cherry Hill, one of my go to places for unusual things. They even have a website where you can place an order for something not in the store and avoid shipping costs. You can check for the Velvet Falernum there too, although it seems to only be available by the case. If not, you can grab it at Total Wine and More or Canal’s, both right down the road from Benash. Now for a name, always the trickiest part for me. I felt like it could only be one thing:

Lunar Eclipse in Pisces

1 1/2 oz Tanqueray gin*
1/2 oz Laird’s Applejack
1/4 oz Suze
1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
4 thin cucumber slices
1 basil leaf
1 ripe fig
2 oz club soda**

Gently muddle 3 of the cucumber slices, the basil leaf, and 1/2 of the fig with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker tin. Add the remaining ingredients except for the club soda and fill the tin 3/4 full with ice. Shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with the club soda. Garnish with the remaining cucumber slice and a fig slice. Enjoy!

*I normally use a more botanical gin like Hendrick’s when I make a standard Cucumber Collins, but in this case I wanted less herbal and floral elements.

**I like to use high quality mixers like Fever Tree or Q.

Retro Collins glass from Dig This in Collingswood.

I’ll see you all on Monday when we’ll be talking about drinks that are shaken. Have a great weekend!