There are many benchmarks on the way to becoming a cocktail geek. Do you drink your Martinis with a 2:1 ratio or more? Do you have a favorite 19th century bar man? Do you own more than four types of bitters? Is the Negroni one of your Desert Island Cocktails? Appreciation of bitter spirits and bitter cocktails is a hurdle that truly shows you’re on your way being a certifiable cocktail enthusiast.
The appreciation of potable bitters opens up a world for creativity and experimentation. While I don’t spend nearly as much time as I used to coming up with my own original cocktails, one of the areas where I’ve never stopped playing is with Negroni and Americano variations. Every new bitter spirit which graces our shores allows me to try out new variations on the classic base/bitter/fortified wine formulation.
Best of all, once you appreciate potable bitters, you find that many, many countries have their own favorites. This brings me to the Czech Republic and Becherovka. Josef Becher first began producing liquor in 1794 and with an English Dr. Frobrig developed the basic recipe for Becherovka in 1805. Becher finished refining the recipe in 1807 and began selling it, like many other potable bitters, as a cure for stomach ailments. Skip ahead 200 years and while Becherovka can settle an upset stomach like most other digestifs, it’s much more fun to enjoy in its own right.
Becherovka is 38% abv and comes in a striking green, flask-shaped bottle. It is a golden, straw color. On its nose are clove, anise, allspice and honey. Sipped neat, I get clove, bitter quinine, allspice, cinnamon, honey and pepper. It’s delightfully unique, but warm and familiar to anyone who likes potable bitters.
I haven’t played around with Becherovka enough yet to have a preferred recipe where it’s used in a Negroni or Americano variation. But most of the time if I am drinking something bitter, it’s either with club soda or tonic water. Not shockingly, Becherovka is so good with tonic that it has its own name, the Beton:
2 oz Becherovka
Top with Tonic Water (I used Fentimans)
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add Becherovka and tonic. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
This is a fantastic tall drink. It’s very light and refreshing, with calming herbal qualities. As we head into summer, this is a great drink to keep in mind for afternoons in the sun, by a pool or the grill. It will keep you cool and will also speak to your worldly character as an enlightened cocktail enthusiast.
Disclosure: This post was made possible because I received a free bottle of Becherovka for the purposes of sample and review.