Dinner Digestifs

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Dinner Digestifs

My last blog was an overview of some types of digestifs to enjoy after dinner, and discussed late harvest and fortified wines, brandies and liqueurs. Since there are so many different liqueurs out there, I thought it appropriate to cover a few more in depth. So here goes…

Is a sweet herbal liquor created by Arturo Vaccari of Livorno in Tuscany, Italy in 1896. It is named after Gusieppe Galliano, an Italian war hero. It is comprised of a number of ingredients, including vanilla, star anise, ginger, citrus, juniper, musk yarrow and lavender. These ingredients (sans vanilla) are pressed and infused into neutral alcohol and then distilled. The vanilla is then infused, and finally distilled water, refined sugar and neutral alcohol are blended in. Galliano is made to either 60 or 84.6 proof. (We carry the 84.6 proof version.) The final product has a vanilla/anise taste with herbal notes, and it is the vanilla that distinguishes it from other anise infused liqueurs. The brand was purchased by the distiller Lucas Bols of Holland, and is currently made there. It comes in the distinctive tall thin bottle, reminiscent of a Roman column. It is often consumed as an after meal digestif, or used as an ingredient in cocktails, the most well known being the Harvey Wallbanger. The recipe for a Harvey Wallbanger is to mix 6 parts orange juice with 3 parts vodka and ice in a tall glass, and float 1 part Galliano on top…garnish with an orange slice.
$22.99 for a 375ml bottle.

Pimm’s #1 Cup is the original and most popular offering in what became a series of liqueurs known as fruit cups from the British based distiller. Pimm’s #1 is gin based, with a secret mixture of herbs and liqueurs, and was created by James Pimm in 1823 to serve at his London oyster bar. It began large scale production in 1851, and by 1887 there was a chain of Pimm’s oyster bars. Several other Pimm’s cups were created over the years using different liquors as a base, but Pimm’s #1 remains the most popular. The brand fell on hard times in the 1970’s and 80’s, and some of the other cups were phased out, but Pimm’s #3 (brandy based and now known as Pimm’s Winter Cup) and #6 (Vodka based) are still available. The brand changed hands several times over the years, and is now owned Diageo.
Pimm’s #1 was originally produced to aid digestion after a meal as a digestif. It is dark reddish in color, and has a slight spice and citrus taste. It is still very popular today, mostly as a summer drink in England. It can be served on the rocks, or mixed with British style lemonade, (which is clear and carbonated) and even various chopped fruits.
$28.99 for a 750ml bottle. 50 proof.

Chartreuse is made according to a centuries old, secret formula of 130 herbs, plants and flowers mixed into a distilled alcohol base. It has a very strong taste, and is sweet with pungent spice and vegetal notes. It can be served straight, either chilled or at room temperature. It is also used in cocktails and is popular with hot chocolate at French ski resorts.
This liqueur has been made by the Carthusian monks of France since 1737. It is said that the original recipe was given to the order in Paris in 1605 by the French marshal Francois Hannibal d’Estrees, who called it the “elixir of long life.” The recipe eventually made it to the order’s headquarters at the Grand Chartreuse monastery in Voiron, France, where the monks began to produce chartreuse as a medicine. The recipe was enhanced in 1764 to what is now called Green Chartreuse, at 110 proof, which became very popular at the time. A second recipe was developed by the monks in 1838 for a Yellow Chartreuse, a sweeter saffron colored version at a lower proof of 80. The monks were expelled from France in 1903, and their distillery was confiscated by the government. The monks took refuge in Tarragona, Spain, bringing their secret recipe with them. They produced chartreuse there with a new label noting its Spanish production. Meanwhile, a corporation back in Voiron took over the distillery and began making their version of chartreuse, without the secret recipe. Their attempt failed, and when they faced bankruptcy in 1927, a group of local businessmen in Voiron bought them out and gave the business back to the monks as a gift. The monks were given tacit approval by the French government to produce again, and their expulsion was fully lifted after World War II, giving them full legal authority to produce again. Chartreuse is still made in Voiron today. The secret recipe is known only by 2 monks at any given time. These monks prepare the secret ingredients for the product that we carry today. We carry the green version at 110 proof. $39.99 for a 375ml bottle.

Sambuca is an anise flavored Italian liqueur that comes in either a clear, red or black version. It is created by taking the essential oils from anise, star anise, licorice, elderflowers and other spices and adding them to a neutral alcohol base, along with a concentrated sugar solution. It is usually bottled at 42% alcohol by volume, or 84 proof. The first commercial version was produced by Luigi Manzi in Civitavecchia, Italy around the end of the 1800’s. Angelo Molinari popularized the liqueur after World War II with his version, Sambuca Extra Molinari. It can be consumed warm or chilled, and is traditionally served with three coffee beans. We carry Sambuca Romana: $17.99 for a 375ml bottle.

Some of these you may know, and others may be new to you. Stop on in and let us help you find the right after dinner digestif for you!

Chip Bartsch
West Vail Liquor