Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | April 14, 2011

PAMA: Persephone’s Elixir

Two things (out of many) that I’ve learned to be true since I started blogging about cocktails are (1) liqueurs and amari provide the broadest route towards new recipes and (2) everything tastes better with ginger beer. I was reminded of these lessons as I was reading through the fairly large and detailed recipe booklet from their master mixologist Eben Freeman. It’s one of the best presentations of recipes with a classic bend I’ve seen since Novo Fogo cachaca released theirs. Freeman provides recipes for every major base spirit, including variations on classic recipes like the Ramos Gin Fizz, Cobbler, Caipirinha, Batida, Sidecar and Mint Julep.

PAMA is a versatile liqueur made by Heaven Hill Distillery in Kentucky – the same Heaven Hill that’s responsible for Elijah Craig and Evan Williams bourbons and Rittenhouse Rye. The vodka and tequila based pomegranate liqueur has the taste of fresh pomengrante juice, with its natural tart sweetness. While there are lots of cocktails which would benefit from substituting PAMA for classic grenadine (if you don’t know, true grenadine is a pomegranate syrup, not neon red sugar water we see in most bars), Freeman goes far afield from grenadine with his recipes. I really respect this. Last year I had a private cocktail session with Phil Ward of Mayahuel, who explained to us his philosophy of making new cocktails based on common recipe templates. By thinking about liqueur as an element for easy substitution, you can swap out many different ingredients to find new cocktails that work well. New liqueurs means new cocktails are possible and Freeman’s work shows the fruits of this maxim.

Persephone's Elixir

Persephone's Elixir

I don’t know for sure what the base cocktail for Persephone’s Elixir was, but it certainly looks like a tequila Tom Collins that subs PAMA for simple syrup and ginger beer for club soda. Regardless, it stood out to me because it’s just starting to get warm, I wanted to try a new tequila cocktail, and, most of all, everything is good with ginger beer.

Persephone’s Elixir

0.75 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz blanco tequila
0.75 oz fresh lemon juice
Ginger beer

Combine all ingredients except ginger beer in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice into Collins glass and top with ginger beer.

This is a nice, light, refreshing high ball. It tastes like summer and it looks like summer, with a gorgeous rosy-pink hue. The ginger beer, liqueur, and tequila have a nicely balanced spice, while the lemon gives it a sour slant that works with the mild sweetness of PAMA. This will undoubtedly be a popular drink on my back patio this summer.

PAMA has Eben Freeman’s recipes online. I’d recommend checking them out to see if there’s something you’d like to try. PAMA is available nationwide and I’ve been seeing it in almost every bar I go into of late, so if you have something you think is worth trying, see if your local bartender can serve it up for you. I’ll be curious to hear which bars are using PAMA cocktails on their menus around DC. It seems like this is an ingredient with promise, as Freeman’s recipes and this example show. I have to imagine there being a lot of good Tiki applications out there to be discovered with it. I’ll keep you posted if I find any that measure up…

Disclosure: This post was made possible because I received a free bottle PAMA Liqueur for the purposes of sample and review.



  1. Yum!! I love that PAMA liquer….I just mix it with champagne but the ginger beer combo sounds delish! Nice post!

  2. I’ve not yet tried the PAMA but now I’m curious. Glad, too, that ginger beer is getting more press these days. 35 years ago when I first came to the US from the UK no-one knew what it was.

  3. This greatly encourages me to try PAMA. I’m usually a little suspicious of “new” liqueurs…

    Ginger Beer, of course, makes nearly everything better.

    So do amaros, grapefruits, cinnamon, Ting, Jwray….

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