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FOOD 101: The History Of Amaretto Liqueur

Amaretto Disaronno

Amaretto Disaronno

Reina Store 1900

Old Amaretto Bottles

[1] Disaronno, the original amaretto liqueur brand (photo courtesy ILLVA). [2] A liqueur glass with the amber liqueur (photo courtresy Angela Bax | Pinterest via Flickr. [3] Domenico Reina’s store in Saronno. [4] Bottles of Disaronno from 1900

 

April 19th is National Amaretto Day. Earlier today, we developed a list of almost 40 ways to use amaretto.

You may find it hard to believe that one of the top liqueurs in the world (see the list below) was not imported into the U.S. until the 1960s.

The almond-flavored cordial quickly became a hit in the U.S., in cocktails and food preparation. By the 1980s, it was second in sales only to Kahlùa.

In Italian, amaro means bitter. Amaretto means a little bitter.

Why is this sweet, almond liqueur called bitter?

Surprisingly, no almonds are used to make most brands of amaretto. Rather, the marzipan-like flavor is achieved through apricot kernel oil, burnt sugar and a variety of spices.

Various commercial brands—but not the top two which “own” the market—are made from a base of apricot pits or peach pits (the source of the oil), almonds, or a combination.

Most likely, when it was first made, amaretto wasn’t as sweet as it is today. Older recipes use the bitter almond (mandorla amara) local to Saronno, Italy, which give the liqueur its name.

In Italy, almonds are grown in two basic varieties, sweet and bitter (mandorla).

WHO INVENTED AMARETTO?

Before the names DiSaronno or Lazzaroni ever appeared on a bottle, the amaretto legend was born.

In the Renaissance and earlier, many families would distill their own liqueurs and digestifs.

According to their history, here’s the scoop:

In 1525, the artist Bernardino Luini, a former pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, was commissioned by the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie in the city of Saronno, in northern Italy near the Swiss border, in the region of Lombardy.

He painted a fresco of the the Adoration of the Magi (photo #5) in the sanctuary, which included the Madonna of the Miracles (photo #6). The fresco can still be seen today).

As the model for the Madonna, Luini hired a young widow, an innkeeper. As a gift, she gave him a flask full of an amber liqueur she made by steeping apricot kernels in brandy.

Her name is lost to history, but her likeness and her amaretto recipe live on.

Perhaps she was a member of the Reina family; for somehow, in 1600, Giovanni Reina (who had worked for the Lazzaroni amaretto cookie business) discovered the innkeeper’s old recipe. He made the liqueur, and the “secret” recipe passed from one generation to the next.

20th Century Amaretto Di Saronno

At the beginning of the 20th century, Domenico Reina decided to open a store in Saronno to sell food items, including the family liqueur, which he sold as Amaretto di Saronno Originale (Original Amaretto from Saronno, photo #4). The store was called Domenico Reina Coloniali (Domenico Reina’s Grocery—photo #3).

By 1940, liqueur production had grown into a large artisanal business. In 1947 was incorporated as ILLVA SARONNO. ILLVA is an acronym for Industria, Lombarda, Liquori, Vini & Affini (Industry, Lombarda, Spirits, Wines & Allied Products).

The product was called Amaretto di Saronno (Amaretto from Saronno), before returning to the latter part of the original name, Disaronno Originale, in 2001. It is still produced in Saronno, and sold worldwide (source).

It should be noted that Paolo Lazzaroni & Figli S.p.A., makers of Amaretti di Saronno cookies, claims that the Lazzaroni family created amaretto, in 1851.

 

That may be so, but their recipes are quite different. Disaronno’s is made from apricot kernel oil with “absolute alcohol, burnt sugar, and the pure essence of seventeen selected herbs and fruits” (i.e., no almonds or other nuts).

Lazzaroni’s amaretto contains their Amaretti di Saronno almond cookies, infused in alcohol (source).

 

CORDIAL, LIQUEUR, EAU DE VIE: THE DIFFERENCE

Most people—including American producers and importers—use these terms interchangeably. But there are differences:

EAU DE VIE, CORDIAL, LIQUEUR & SCHNAPS:
THE DIFFERENCE

  • Schnaps/schnapps, a generic German word for liquor or any alcoholic beverage, is more specific in English, where it refers to clear brandies distilled from fermented fruits. The English added a second “p,” spelling the word as schnapps. True Schnaps has no sugar added, but products sold in the U.S. as schnapps may indeed be sweetened. As one expert commented, “German Schnaps is to American schnapps as German beer is to American Budweiser.”
  • Eau de vie is the French term for Schnaps. American-made brands labeled eau de vie (“water of life”) are often heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine for thickening.
  • Liqueur is an already distilled alcohol made from grain which has already been fermented, into which fruits are steeped. It is sweeter and more syrupy than a European eau de vie or schnapps.
  • Cordial, in the U.S., almost always refers to a syrupy, sweet alcoholic beverage, a synonym for liqueur. In the U.K., it refers to a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink or the syrup used to make such a drink. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a British brand, is called Rose’s Lime Juice in the U.S. so Americans don’t think it’s alcoholic.
  •  
    EAU DE VIE, “WATER OF LIFE”
     
    The distillation of alcohol may have taken place as early as 200 C.E., possibly by alchemists trying to make gold (alembic still history).

     

    Adoration Of The Magi - Luini

    Adoration Of The Magi - Luini

    [5] Adoration Of The Magi by Bernardo Luini, and [6] the detail of the Madonna.

     
    Because spirits were initially intended to be medicinal, “water of life” was a reasonable name for distilled alcoholic preparations.

    The Russian term zhiznennia voda, which was distilled down (that’s a pun) into “vodka,” also means water of life (the literal translation of vodka is “little water”).

    The Gaelic uisce beatha, pronounced ISH-ka BYA-ha, too, means “water of life.” The pronunciation evolved into the more familiar term, whiskey.

    THE TOP 10 LIQUEURS

    According to The Spirit Business, the top-selling liqueur brands in the world are:

    1. Baileys Irish Cream (whiskey flavored)
    2. Malibu (rum and coconut flavored)
    3. De Kuyper (assorted flavors)
    4. Lubelska (vodka-based liqueur)
    5. Southern Comfort (whiskey flavored)
    6. Kahlúa (coffee flavored)
    7. Amarula (amarula fruit flavored*)
    8. Disaronno Amaretto (almond flavored)
    9. Zoladkowa Gorzka (vodka-based liqueur, black cherry flavor)
    10. Cointreau (orange flavored)
    ________________

    *The African fruit from which this is made has been described as tasting like chocolate-covered strawberries. It is a favorite of elephants.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Do With Amaretto

    Amaretto Di Saronno

    Homemade Amaretto

    Amaretto Preserves

    Coffee With Amaretto

    Shrimp With Amaretto Marinade

    [1] The grandaddy of amaretto: Amaretto di Saronno (photo courtesy Illva Saronno S.p.A). [2] Homemade amaretto (here’s the recipe from Mantitlement). [3] Amaretto preserves (photo courtesy Telltale Preserve Co). [4] Pour amaretto into your coffee, or serve it as a chaser (photo courtesy Coffee Door Country). [5] Shrimp in an amaretto marinade (photo courtesy Kansas City Steaks).

     

    Today is National Amaretto Day, in honor of an almond-flavored liqueur initially made with local bitter almonds in the area of Saronno, Italy.

    Amaretto is Italian for “a little bitter,” which it may have been back then. Today, it is sweet—and often made from apricot pits, which taste like almond and are a whole lot less expensive.

    But what to do with that bottle of amaretto?

    Gone are the days when a glass of liqueur would be a sweet ending to dinner. Has anyone had an after-dinner liqueur at home since, say, the 1970s?

    Don’t let the bottle of amaretto gather dust on a closet shelf. Today’s tip is: Take that bottle down and put it to good use!

    1. Revive the custom of the after dinner drink.

    Drink your dessert instead of eating something sweet.

    You don’t need to buy delicate, stemmed liqueur glasses: Rocks glaasses, even shot glasses, will do just fine.

    We use miniature brandy snifters.

    2. Bring out the bottle with after-dinner coffee…

    …or brunch coffee…or coffee at any respectable time of day.

    We have long followed our Nana’s custom of bringing a silver tray with four liqueur bottles (amaretto, anisette, Courvoisier, crème de cacao) and small cream pitchers to the table with coffee.

    Why the little pitchers? Nana was far too elegant to pour liqueur from a bottle into a coffee cup. It was poured from the bottle into the pitcher, and then into the cup.

    Why didn’t she serve the amaretto as a chaser in her crystal liqueur glasses? Alas, it’s too late to ask.

    But anyone who enjoys a shot of flavored syrup in their cup of coffee will appreciate the even greater depth of favor from a sweet liqueur—mixed in or served separately.

    3. Make cocktails.

    You can even throw a cocktail party with a menu of amaretto cocktails: Almond Joy, Amaretto Alexander, Amaretto and Coke, Amaretto Sour, Italian Sunset and others.

    Here are “the 10 best amaretto cocktail recipes.”

    Everything old is new again.

    And for dessert: a DiSaronno Milkshake, which is just as it sounds: amaretto and vanilla ice cream, tossed into the blender.

    MORE WAYS TO USE AMARETTO

    We have almost 40 different ways to use amaretto.

    While the biggest opportunity comes in adding a tablespoon or two to sweet foods, there are also savory uses.

    Amaretto In Desserts

  • Almond cookies
  • Anything that uses almond flour
  • Applesauce
  • Any chocolate recipe, including chocolate truffles
  • Baked or sautéed apples or pears, or sautéed stone fruits
  • Cake: sprinkle directly onto angel, pound and sponge cakes, or reduce into a sauce
  • Cannoli cream
  • Cheesecake
  • Compote or stewed fruit
  • Cookie dip (make a sweet dip, or just dip the cookies in straight amaretto)
  • Crêpes
  • Dessert sauce (butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, fruit)
  • Fresh fruit and fruit salad (pineapple or peaches and amaretto are inspired pairings)
  • Frostings and fillings
  • Ice cream: churned into homemade (really delicious!), or poured over a scoop of ready made
  • Jam and preserves
  • Maraschino cherries (replace half the sugar syrup with amaretto)
  • Marinate dried fruits (as a garnish for proteins or desserts)
  • Pudding (almost any flavor)
  • Sautéed bananas
  • Tiramisu
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    Amaretto In Beverages

  • Beertails (yes, add some to beer, especially a bland one)
  • Cherry, peach or pineapple Jell-O shots
  • Cocktails
  • Cherry, cola or lemon-lime soft drinks
  • Coffee, hot or iced
  • Floats and milkshakes
  • Hot chocolate
  • Neat or on the rocks
  • Tea, hot or iced
  • Sparkling wine
  • Spritzer (club soda and amaretto)
  •  
    More Amaretto Uses

  • Almondine sauce for chicken, duck, fish, pork and vegetables
  • French toast, pancake and waffle batter
  • Peanut butter or chocolate spread (e.g. Nutella)
  • Marinades for meat and seafood (delish with grilled shrimp—here’s a recipe)
  •  
    What if you simply have too much amaretto?

    Give it away. Our Dad, who didn’t drink alcohol, had four bottles in his closet—and didn’t understand the concept of re-gifting.

    Tie a bow around the neck; and if you feel you need to buy something, add some liqueur glasses.

    Not enough amaretto?

    Make your own with this recipe.

     

    RECIPE: AMARETTO BROWNIES WITH AMARETTO FROSTING

    Thanks to Rosie Bucherati of King Arthur Flour for this yummy recipe.

    Ingredients For About 4 Dozen Small Squares

    For The Brownies

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnish: 1/3 cup tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds
  •  
    For The Amaretto Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup natural or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (for enhanced flavor)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

     

    Amaretto Brownies

    Amaretto Pound Cake

    Anything baked tastes good with amaretto. [1] Amaretto brownies (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Amaretto pound cake with amaretto glaze (photo courtesy The Baker Chick).

     
    2. MELT the butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until melted (or you can microwave). Add sugar, stirring until combined. Remove from the heat, and cool to lukewarm. Stir in the eggs and amaretto.

    3. ADD the flour, salt and espresso powder, beating gently until thoroughly combined. Spread the batter into the pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    4. MAKE the frosting. Combine the butter and chocolate in bowl, stirring until smooth. Add the sifted confectioner’s sugar alternately with the milk, beating on medium speed. Stir in the amaretto and espresso powder.

    5. SPREAD the icing on the cooled brownies. Garnish with almonds. Cover and refrigerate the brownies for at least 1 hour before serving; this will help the icing set, and make cutting a lot less messy.

    6. CUT the brownies in small squares to serve. Cover any leftovers, and store at cool room temperature. If it’s warm in your house, you can wrap them airtight and store in the fridge for a day or so; or freeze for longer storage.

      

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    PRODUCT: Facundo Baccardi Premium Rum & A Chocolate Banana Cocktail Recipe

    Chocolate Banana Rum Cocktail

    Facundo Neo Rum

    Facundo Rum Collection

    [1] Chocolate banana cocktail. The recipe is below. [2] Ready for its close up: Facundo Neo rum. [3] The Facundo Bacardi Rum Collection (photos courtesy Bacardi).

     

    Weekends are time for testing new cocktail recipes. The one below is from the Facundo Rum Collection, a luxury portfolio.

    If we were lucky enough to have a bottle, we’d sip it straight as the rum was intended, and substitute another white rum in the cocktail.

    Bacardi’s Facundo Bacardi Rum Collection, introduced in 2013, is the distiller’s commitment to the emerging category of premium sipping rums. The rums are made from the company’s private rum reserve: the finest batches of rum aged for very long times.

    The line was championed by Facundo L. Bacardi, who strongly felt that the company should be a player in the emerging category of premium rums.

    The four expressions range from $45-$250 a bottle. They are made in different styles, and produce a wide range of flavor experiences.

    For example, the first rum in the collection, Facundo Neo, is a blend of rums that have been aged for up to eight years.

    It’s not exactly your basic quality brand white rum, used to make a Mojito or Piña Colada. Regular white rum is aged for a year, sometimes more.

    The result of the extra aging and the fact that the “best” barrels were aged: Neo’s flavor profile is a beautifully balanced, with notes of banana, almonds and freshly cut grass. To experience them, sip them neat or on the rocks.

    If you’re a person for whom money is no object, you can use whatever rum you like in mixed drinks. But truth to tell with the recipe below, after you mix vermouth and two liqueurs with the rum, only the most professional palate could articulate the difference.
     
     
    A NOTE ABOUT AGED RUM

    It’s easy to understand the age categories of tequila, scotch and other spirits. The producing countries have laws that govern, among other things, how long the spirit has been aged prior to bottling.

    For example, Mexican laws govern how many months a tequila can be aged in order to be called silver, reposado, anejo, extra anejo tequilas (details).

    With rum, aging can last from one to thirty years or more, but you often won’t find a number on the bottle*. There are exceptions, such as Appleton (the top expression is 50 years old!) and Flor de Cana.

    The Facundo expressions include Facundo Neo Rum, Facundo Eximo Rum, Facundo Exquisito Rum and Facundo Paraiso XA Rum. Each is aged longer than the next. But as with most rums, don’t expect to know how long that aging period was.

    That’s because unlike other spirit-producing areas, Caribbean countries did not stake their claim to exclusivity by passing appropriate laws to protect their rights, i.e., that only alcohol distilled in the Caribbean can be called rum. (Scotch can only be produced in Scotland, bourbon can only be produced in the U.S., tequila in Mexico, etc.)

     
    As a result, rum has no consistent standards among countries. Beyond the Caribbean, rum is now produced in Australia, India, Reunion Island, South America and elsewhere around the world.

    That makes any rules and regulations hard to enforce. Even proofs vary (40 proof vs. 50 proof for white rum, for example).

    Thus, Mexico requires white rum to be aged a minimum of 8 months. The Dominican Republic requires one year. Venezuela requires two years.

    Naming standards also vary. Argentina defining rums as white, gold, light, and extra light. Barbados calls them white, overproof and matured. The U.S. defines the categories as rum, rum liqueur, and flavored rum [source].

    Some distillers use the word “premium” to describe their best aged spirits. Another common description is the word “anejo,” old. “Gran anejo” is even older.

    But none of these terms tells you how long the rum has aged. It’s the blender or distiller who decides what to call it.

    In their marketing literature you’ll find terms like aged, aged even longer and aged extensively—without explanation. Here’s an article that tries to explain what cannot be explained.

    So don’t try to figure it out: Just enjoy it.
     
     
    RECIPE: BANANA CHOCOLATE COCKTAIL

    Beyond the Banana Daiquiri: a banana-chocolate cocktail for those who like to drink their dessert.

    Ingredients

  • 1½ parts Facundo Neo rum (substitute other white rum)
  • ½ part dry vermouth
  • ¼ part Giffard Banane du Brésil (or other banana liqueur)
  • ¼ part Giffard Crème de Cacao white (or other white crème de cacao)
  • Garnish: lemon peel for garnish and dried banana chips
  •  
    Preparation

    In a mixing glass, stir all the ingredients with plenty of ice. Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with a dry banana chip and a lemon peel.

    ________________

    *Age is beginning to appear in some rum bottles, such as Appleton and Flor de Cana aged rums. But again, statements of age may vary by country. For example, a Scotch may be a blend of ages from 8 to 15 years, but by law it has to specify the youngest Scotch in the blend, e.g., 8 Year Old. It’s too soon to tell what will happen with the rum category as a whole.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Irish Coffee Recipe?

    Irish Coffee

    Irish Coffee Glass

    Irish Espresso

    [1] The Irish Coffee recipe from Tim Herlihy of Tullamore D.E.W.. [2] The traditional stemmed Irish Coffee glass (photo courtesy Barmano). [3]Irish espresso, a riff on Irish Coffee (recipe #3 below, photo courtesy Tullamore D.E.W.)

     

    January 25th is National Irish Coffee Day, and for that occasion we received an Irish Coffee recipe created by Tullamore D.E.W. Brand Ambassador Tim Herlihy.

    Tim may have consumed more, different Irish Coffee recipes than anyone else. So when he created his own recipe, we paid attention. It’s now the off dial Irish Coffee recipe of Tullamore D.E.W., our favorite Irish whiskey, a version of the original

    The first appeared in the U.S. in 1952 when journalist Stan Delaplane tasted it in Ireland and convinced his friend, the owner of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, to put Irish Coffee on his menu (it was made with Tullamore D.E.W.).

    Tim crafted his version after the Irish Coffee first made in 1943 thrown together in 1943 for cold travelers in a chilly seaplane terminal in Ireland (the scoop).

    Tim likes it as an after-dinner drink; but it can warm you up anytime. Bartender’s Tip: With all hot drink recipes, preheat the goblet or mug by first rinsing it with hot water (we use the microwave).

    If you don’t like coffee, a recipe for Irish Hot Chocolate follows (recipe #3).

    RECIPE #1: TIM HERLIHY’S TULLAMORE D.E.W. IRISH COFFEE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ parts Tullamore D.E.W. Original
  • 1½ parts strong brewed coffee (Tim’s Pick: any premium dark roast)
  • ½ parts demerara sugar (substitute other raw sugar or light brown sugar)
  • Lightly whipped heavy cream
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a clear-stemmed glass with very hot water. Add the sugar and brewed coffee and stir well until the sugar has melted. Then stir in the Tullamore D.E.W.

    2. GENTLY WHIP the heavy cream by shaking it in a blender bottle, a.k.a. with a protein shaker with blender ball. We love this shaker, for scrambled eggs, instant soups and drinks, etc. and mixes (Here’s our review).

    You want a still somewhat loose, not stiff consistency. (You can also achieve this with a hand mixer.)

    3. POUR the cream over the back of a hot teaspoon to create the top layer of the drink, and prevent the cream from penetrating the coffee layer.

    4. GARNISH with grated nutmeg or cinnamon.

    Variations From THE NIBBLE

  • For a less sweet drink, don’t add sweeten the whipped cream, as is common in the U.S.
  • Add some “green,” add 2 teaspoons creme de menthe instead of the creme de menthe (or in addition to it, for a very strong drink), mixed in with the coffee; or drizzle some over the whipped cream top.
  • Ditto, Bailey’s Irish Cream or other Irish cream liqueur.
  •  
    RECIPE #2: IRISH ESPRESSO (IRISH COFFEE SHOTS)

    Traditional Irish coffee combines whiskey, brown sugar, black coffee and heavy cream. In these shots, coffee liqueur substitutes for the coffee and sugar, and Irish cream liqueur takes the place of the whiskey and cream.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 4 teaspoons/20ml Tullamore D.E.W. Original Irish Whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons/10ml premium coffee liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons/10ml heavy cream
  • Garnish: coffee beans (we substitute chocolate-covered coffee beans)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the Tullamore D.E.W. and coffee liqueur to a mixing glass. Stir and pour into shot glasses.

    2. THICKEN the heavy cream slightly with a hand-held mixer or blender bottle. Top each shot with fresh cream and garnish with coffee beans.

    RECIPE #3: IRISH HOT CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 to 2 ounces Irish Whiskey
  • 6 ounces good quality hot chocolate
  • Garnish: chocolate flakes (shave a chocolate bar)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a goblet or mug. Add the whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate flakes.

     

    WHAT MAKES IRISH WHISKEY DIFFERENT

    There are several distinct styles of whiskey in the world—American (rye and bourbon), Irish, Canadian and Scotch.

    While all are produced in a broadly similar way, there are substantial differences in the final product that are based on the choice of grains, the type of still, the number of distillations, the maturation period and the type of oak barrels in which the whiskey is matured.

    The end result is that each country’s whiskey has its own distinctive characteristics.

    Irish whiskey is smooth and clean-tasting, a result of triple distillation. It’s the only triple-distilled whiskey in the world. Here’s the scoop.

    Whiskey vs. whisky.

    The word comes from the the Gaelic uisce, pronounced ISH-ka, and the Scottish uisge, pronounced USH-ka. They became isky and usky and then evolved to the modern English whisky.

    Canadians spell “whisky” without the “e,” as do the Scots and most other countries except Ireland and the U.S.

    Scholars can’t determine why the “e” was dropped by the Scots many centuries ago. One theory is that the Irish made whiskey first and pronounced it with a broad “e.” When the Scots began to make it, they dropped the “e” to differentiate their product.

    A 1968 directive of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling, but allows the alternative spelling, “whiskey,” which most U.S. producers prefer.

    Check out the language of whiskey in our Whiskey Glossary.

    ALCOHOL DISTILLATION

    Alcohol distillation was discovered in the late eighth century by an Arab scholar, Abu Masa Jabir ibn Hayyam, “the father of modern chemistry.” Among other discoveries were acetic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and aqua regia, one of the few substances that can dissolve gold, and crystalization.

    Jabir invented many types of now-basic chemical laboratory equipment. One was the alembic still, the al-ambiq.

    When Jabir distilled wine, he created the world’s first distilled alcohol, and discovered a liquid that had benefits as medicine.

    Since this equipment was often used to boil powdered antimony into a liquid called al-kohl (used to make the cosmetic kohl), the liquid became known as alcohol and the al-ambiq became the modern alembic still.

     

    Abu-Musa-Jabir-ibn-Hayyan

    The First Still

    Early Alembic Still

    [4] A 15th-century portrait of Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, also known as Geber (courtesy Wikipedia). [5] His early distillation still. [6] A later illustration of the early alembic still (still images courtesy Crystal Links).

     
    Distillation remained a secret process, handed down orally. It was ultimately shared with monks in Spain, who also used it for medicinal purposes, adding herbs and other botanicals to create distillations such as Benedictine and Chartreuse.

    Missionary monks brought the recipe to Ireland.

    The secret process for distilling alcohol from wine was written down for the first time in a European language around 1300. It was accomplished by Arnaldus de Villanova (Arnald of Villanova), a Spanish physician, scholar and professor of medicine in Montpellier, France, who was fluent in several languages including Arabic. (He also discovered carbon dioxide and developed pure alcohol).

    He called the distilled alcohol aqua vitae, water of life. It translated to aquavit (Scandinavia), eau de vie (France) and vodka (Poland and Russia).

    Villanova believed it would “prolong life, clear away ill humors, revive the heart and maintain youth.” Others claimed it also alleviated diseases of the brain, nerves and joints; calmed toothaches; cured blindness, speech defects and paralysis; and warded off the Black Death. (Needless to say, it does none of these things, except perhaps putting one to sleep so as not to feel the tooth ache.)

    In 1478, 48 years after the invention of the printing press, the first book on distillation was published. It became a best-seller, with 14 printings in 20 years.

    [source]

      

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    RECIPE: Irish Margarita

    Last month we posted quite a rant about every drink with tequila being called a Margarita.

    Most of the recipes sent to us called “Margarita” aren’t anything of the sort. The establishments are taking advantage of the popularity of the Margarita (America’s #1 or #2 most popular cocktail, alternating with the Martini).

    But, as we explained, if you want to create a Margarita with a different spirit, or use a liqueur other than orange, call it something else. Otherwise, you muddy the waters for people who’d like to understand what a Margarita is.

    THE ORIGINAL MARGARITA INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ounce blanco/silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • Fresh lime juice to taste (try 1/2 ounce)
  • Kosher salt for rim
  • Lime wedge garnish
  •  
    The rant explains how to legitimately vary the ingredients; for example:

  • Use aged tequila instead of the blanco.
  • Substitute blood orange liqueur or grapefruit liqueur (“grapefruit Margarita”) for the Cointreau.
  • Use a different citrus juice, e.g. grapefruit juice in the grapefruit Margarita.
  • Vary the rim, e.g. use chipotle salt.
  •  
    Tilted Kilt” target=”_blank”>The Tilted Kilt, a pub and eatery a chain, sent us a recipe for an “Irish Margarita” that substitutes Irish whiskey for Margarita’s tequila, they added the other must-haves: orange liqueur and lime juice.

    They even salted the rim.

    But they used less orange liqueur flavor, and made up the sweetness difference with agave syrup.

    We offer the recipe under its original name, though we think it should be called Margarita’s Irish Cousin.
     
     
    RECIPE: KILTED TILT’S IRISH MARGARITA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • .5 ounce orange liqueur (Tilted Kilt used Patrón Citrónge)
  • .5 ounce agave nectar
  • 1.5 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Garnish: Lime wedge or wheel
  • Ice
  • Coarse salt
  •  

    Irish Margarita Recipe

    Irish Margarita

    Margarita’s Irish Sister, made with Irish whiskey at The Tilted Kilt. [2] An Irish Margarita from Restless Chipotle. It uses blue Curaçao and pineapple juice, along with peach schnapps and aperol, to create the green color; plus a sugar rim instead of salt. Irish Margarita, anyone?

     
    Preparation

    1. SALT the rim of the glass.

    2. ADD the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the glass.

    Serve to your favorite leprechauns.

      

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