Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Liqueurs Made From Trees?

Marie Brizard's Eau de Cèdre got me thinking about the topic of liqueurs made from trees. Cedar Liqueurs can still be found in Russia and are named Kedrovka and are flavored with the nuts of the Siberian cedar - kedr is the Russian word for cedar. Pine Liqueur is still made in France - Un Sapin is a speciality of Pontarlier but is very hard to find. It is prepared by an alcoholic maceration of 24 different plants including tender young pine buds harvested in Spring. The mix is then distilled and finished with macerated pine buds, sugar and natural colouring. This drink is intended to be sipped chilled, neat at the end of a meal, however it is great over vanilla ice cream!

Another Pine Liqueur is Eau de Vie de Bourgeons de Sapin d’Alsace, made from the buds of the spruce tree and one of the more obscure eaux de vie in the world. Austria makes Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps from Arolla Stone Pine fruit from the fresh, young, (not dried out) pine cone.

Mastichato Chio is a Greek liqueur made out of the resin from the evergreen Pistacia lentiscus (a member of the Pistacio family). When the bark of the tree is injured, the resin exudes in drops. It is transparent and pale yellow to green in colour. It is native to the Aegean Island Chios, which is widely known for its Tears of Chios Trees.

The fertile island of Naxos in the Cylcades produces the liqueur Kitron made from the leaves of the Kitron tree. This tree is similar to a lemon tree, but with a stronger, sharper taste. It comes in three colours, green, transparent and yellow, depending on the sweetness and alcohol content, the yellow being the driest and most potent. The fruits of the tree are made into a preserve, which is referred to as a spoon sweet and served to guests, but Kitron itself is delicious with ice and mixes well with juices to make imaginative cocktails.

Quinine is the ground bark of cinchona tree and is used in the French liqueur Amer Picon invented in 1830 which contains essence of gentian and Calisay liqueur is a Spanish liqueur made in Barcelona from an original Bohemian recipe also containing quinine.

Quinine is an effective muscle relaxant, long used by the Quechua Indians of Peru to halt shivering due to low temperatures. The Peruvians would mix the ground bark of cinchona trees with sweetened water to offset the bark's bitter taste, thus producing tonic water.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spot on. Yesterday, I barely made it through a tiny shot of cedar liqueur in Saint Petersburg. That stuff is rough, and Russian!