Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | March 28, 2010

Review: Xanté

Xanté is a Swedish liqueur made of pear-infused cognac. It’s 76 proof and unlike most liqueurs that come out nowadays, it isn’t particularly sweet at all. While it’s common for just about any spirit to be promoted by PR representatives who present recipes that bizarrely suggest these sweet or strong spirits be enjoyed all by themselves, it’s rare that any thinking drinker would actually want to do that. This goes even further when looking at the recipes PR firms will put out in connection with a spirit. The desire to feature a product inevitably leads to unthinkably bad ratios that don’t do much more than remind an imbiber that they don’t want that much of Liqueur X in their Margarita (for example).

But this really isn’t the case with Xanté. First, it’s not too sweet – clocking in at only 17% sugar, which they say is about half of standard liqueurs. Second, while there are some recipes in their promotional material, this is a spirit that really does stand up well to being enjoyed chilled or on the rocks. While it has some of the flavor of a young cognac, it isn’t intense. The pears shine through, with light vanilla and a sugary flavor that reminds me more of a sipping rum than a liqueur. It’s easy to sip and is actually something I’m now turning to when I want a straight spirit but don’t really want to drink whiskey or rum. I know, I’m shocked by this turn of events too.

Xanté’s materials include recipes for things that you might expect, but in slightly different ways. The Golden Retriever is Xanté and Champagne; no, not together – separate. A shot of Xanté and a flute of Champagne. Or The Whipcracker – Xanté in a cocktail glass that’s been frozen for six minutes. Which is not to be mistaken for Four In A Row (four shots of Xanté), the Manwicket (Xanté in a snifter) or Xanté on the Rocks (self-explanatory). With a couple exceptions it seems the fine folks at Xanté really just want to drink it straight. As I said above, this is actually a pretty good way to enjoy Xanté! But it’s also not really in the spirit of what I want to do when I am trying a new, um, spirit.

With that in mind, here’s an original cocktail featuring Xanté.

The Library Room

1.5 oz Xanté
1.5 oz Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye
1.0 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
0.25 oz Demarara Syrup
3 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

Combine all ingredients and stir over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I found Xanté a fairly hard ingredient for cocktails. It’s flavors are subtle and it’s not sweet enough to easily stand out in cocktails in the same way as liqueurs like Domaine de Canton or St. Germain. Balance becomes much more important. This cocktail, The Library Room, was inspired by a pear-infused rye cocktail at Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco, The Clairmont Affair, which also included amaro to compliment the rye and pear flavors. I think The Library Room is nice and subtle. I wanted it slightly sweet and the demarara syrup actually helps push back on the overproof rye. Like Xanté, this cocktail is somewhat subtle and not overpowering, despite the inclusion of a strong rye and rich amaro.

I really look forward to seeing how other craft bartenders use Xanté. I think there are a lot of possibilities for creativity and what I’m presenting is really a tiny, tiny look at how this can be used. I would love to see someone find recipes that pair it with tequila, as I’ve always found the pear and tequila pairing to work well (I tried and in a few attempts did not arrive at anything worth publishing). In the mean time, I’m sure I’ll continue to enjoy Xanté simply chilled on the rocks. Xanté’s advertising is very much targeted towards women and I am sure my female friends will enjoy this (much as I have many female friends who love Wild Turkey American Honey). But I think Xanté is making a mistake in this women-oriented ad campaign. I think they should take a page from Del Maguey’s Crema de Mezcal, whose slogan is “For women only… and… a few strong men.”

Disclosure: This post was made possible because I received a free sample of  Xanté.

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Responses

  1. […] cocktail made with rye, bourbon, and Xante pear liqueur. I’ve been pretty enamored with Xante since I first tried it, but haven’t seen it used successfully in too many cocktails yet. I’ll have to give […]

  2. […] lime juice and bitters.  AJiggerofBlog, written by Matt Hamlin, created an original cocktail named The Library Room using Xante, Rittenhouse Rye, Amaro Ramazzotti, Demarara Syrup and bitters.  Matt also reviews […]


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