We’ve talked spirits quite a bit here in the past year, but one thing we haven’t covered much is liqueur. I tend to make fairly simple cocktails and leave the liqueurs to the professionals, but the time has come.
I’m no stranger to people asking what my favorite whiskey or vodka is. It changes frequently (Angels Envy Bourbon and Knob Creek Rye at the moment), but I’ll always have an answer. I was recently asked what liqueurs to add to a home bar though, and I really didn’t have a good response. Over the past year I’ve had Plymouth Sloe Gin, Kahlua, Cointreau, Amaretto, Southern Comfort, and Jäger on the shelf, but they all served a specific purpose. I’m not sure I’d say there’s one that’s all encompassing, although Cointreau is pretty close. That’s why when PAMA sent me an email asking if I’d like to try their new liqueur, I did a little research then jumped all over it. I had this new found cause to experiment, and what better place to start than trendy as hell pomegranate?
The first thing I notice is that it’s made by Heaven Hill, which immediately makes me feel more manly. If I’m going to drink something that’s only 17% ABV, I feel better knowing it’s in the hands of whiskey lovers. It’s actually made with vodka and tequila though, so it pretty well rounds out the entire spectrum of booze before even leaving the bottle.
After lying about my age, I found the website has a slew of recipes spanning every base spirit. Given that I’m looking for something that can be used in a wide array of drinks, we’re off to a good start. All the cocktails in the world won’t matter though if the stuff isn’t good though. Thankfully, it lived up to its quiet hype. I was expecting a sweetness bomb, but it just never dropped. It’s actually somewhat tart, which evens it nicely. While the bottle claims it’s “also perfect on the rocks,” I had no intention of going that route. To the cocktails!
I made a Manhattan and a Mojito because I couldn’t think of two more different drinks to test out. I also happen to have the ingredients for both, which may have been the actual determining factor.
I started with the Manhattan and loved it. Replacing the sweet red vermouth with a liqueur seemed fairly logical, but the difference was substantial. The pomegranate came through but didn’t overwhelm the drink. I usually make mine 3:1, but the 2:1 it called for worked just fine. I did however make my second (third?) with a little extra rye. It also has just a dash of bitters when I normally use couple, but one was more than sufficient because of the tartness of the PAMA. Plus if there’s one thing with which to always err on the side of to little it’s bitters.
Next up was the PAMAjito. Most people have had flavored mojitos before, but I find they tend to taste like syrup bombs. Adding fruit juice to something that’s already is prepared with sugar can be dangerous. It works incredibly well with the liqueur though. It was crisp and refreshing, and tastes like an entirely new drink with just a hint of convention. If you see the bottle behind the bar, be sure have the bartender to make you one of these. For the love of all things drunk in the world though, don’t ask when the bar is busy.
I’ve pulled the two cocktails I made and a few others that look pretty damn good and turned them into images for you. You’re welcome. Save a couple of these or come back this weekend to give them a try.