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What’s In Your Cocktail

Jane Ryan | 28/07/2016

From Kummel to Pisco, get your head around these ingredients and read cocktail menus like an industry-insider.

Amontillado - A style of sherry lying between the dry and light fino style and the heavier and sweeter oloroso. Used in classics such as the Fog Cutter #1 and often added to a Bloody Mary for extra complexity. 

Arrack - Also know as Batavia Arrack which formed the base for the original punch recipe. It's a distilled spirit made from molasses making it a type of rum. Found most commonly in rum punches. 

Aquavit - A distilled spirit popular in Scandinavia which is made from potatoes or grain, much like vodka, which is then redistilled with flavours of which carroway must be the most predominate. Just as juniper must be the most forward taste in gin. Often served as a frozen shot. 

Benedictine - A herbal liqueur based on brandy with an additional 56 herbs and spices. You'll find it in classics such as a Singapore Sling, Vieux Carre, or a La Lousiana. Benedictine adds a spiced sweetness to a drink with notes of saffron, caradmon and ginger. 

Bitters - Bitters on a cocktail menu could refer to any number of sharp tinctures used by modern bartenders. These strong spirits are made using a concoction of herbs, spices, root, peels and fruits and are often bitter to the taste. In cocktails you'll find only the smallest measurements, usually dashes, which add complexity to a drink. The two most common are Angostura and Peychauds. 

Byrrh - An aromatised and fortified wine made from red wine, mistelle and quinine. Byrrh (pronounced beer) adds a spiced red wine flavour to drinks, and sipped on its own over ice you'll taste liquorice, dark chocolate and coffee notes. Found in classics such as Byrrh Special combining gin and Byrrh or a Marianne with bourbon, dry vermouth and Byrrh. 

undefinedLast Word using Green Chartreuse from

Chartreuse - Chartreuse is a herbacous spirit which comes in several expressions, the most famous Green or Yellow. Green Chartreuse sits at a bold 55% and is the only liqueur across the world with a naturally occurring vivid green hue. It adds flavours of coriander, cardamom, aniseed, jasmine, rosemary, sage, basil and other botanicals and is most famously found in a Last Word combining gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino and lime. The Yellow version is a milder 40%, uses more spices and has a grape-spirit base. Find it in a Greenpoint which uses rye whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, sweet vermouth and bitters.

Cynar - An Italian amaro flavoured with artichoke leaves alongside 12 other botanicals. At 16.5% this amaro is still classfied as a liqueur and adds flavours of caramel, quinine and cooked vegetables. Find it in twists on the Negroni and in the Little Italy using rye whiskey, Cynar and sweet vermouth. 

Falernum - A flavoured liqueur which adds notes of lime, vanilla and clove. Find it in Rum Swizzles. 

Fino - The driest and palest sherry which can add nutty notes or drier green apples depending on the brand. Find it in Sherry Cobblers (fino sherry, maraschino, pineapple, orange and lemon), Adonis (fino sherry, sweet vermouth and orange bitters) and the famed Fino Flip (fino sherry, egg, Angostura bitters and sugar). 

Floc de Gascogne - A fortified wine from Gascony which uses two parts fermented grape juice to one part armagnac. 

Genever - A juniper flavoured spirit from Holland and Belgium which is the forerunner to today's London dry gins. Find it in an original Martinez using genever, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and orange liqueur. 

undefinedMartinez using Genever from

Kummel - A sweet liqueur flavoured with carroway, fennel, cumin and orris and is extremely popular in Russia. Working well in tequila drinks to bring forth the vegetal notes it's aldo part of classics such as a Silver Bullet (gin, kummel, lemon) and the Berlin Sour (kummel, maraschino and lemon). 

Oloroso - A darker, sweeter style sherry than fino but not as rich as pedro ximenez. This style is most famous for being found in an Artist's Special with Irish whiskey, oloroso, lemon juice and red currant syrup. 

Orgeat - A sugar syrup made with almonds giving it a distinct marzipan flavour. Orgeat is one of the key ingredients in a Mai Tai but it also found in numerous other cocktails such as an Army and Navy or a Fog Cutter. 

Peat - Often used on cocktail menus to let you know the Scotch inside this particular cocktail (such as a Penicillin) is going to be smoky. Peat is the compact matter of decomposed plants from the unwalkable, boot-filling bogs of Scotland which are dug up, dried out, and burned beneath malted barley before the grains, now rich with peaty smoke, are fermented and distilled into whisky.

Pedro Ximenez - The richest, dessert-like sherry which makes intense and sweet stirred down cocktails such as a Velvet Old Fashioned. 

Picon - Picon is a bitter liqueur, otherwise known as an amaro, which is made with fresh and dried orange peel and has a bittersweet orange and coffee flavour. 

Pisco - A light brandy made in Chile and Peru. While many people ask what pisco is there's a good chance they've already tried it in a world famous Pisco Sour. 

Suze - A slightly bitter liqueur made with gentian roots which is lightly floral and bitter on the palate. Found in a White Negroni with gin, Suze and Littlet Blanc. 


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