1 oz Bourbon [Woodford Reserve]
3/4 oz Bessamim [Sukkah Hill Spirits]
3/4 oz Ramazzotti
1/2 oz Dark Rum [Plantation]
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir with ice, strain into an empty rocks glass. Garnish with charred cinnamon stick. If you don’t have Bessamim, you could try 1/2 oz Benedictine and 1/4 oz Allspice Dram plus your most cinnamony bitters.
A few months ago Sukkah Hill Spirits was nice enough to send me a sample of two of their spirits. I already talked about their Etrog Liqueur for the Julerita, so today I’m turning my attention toward their Bessamim Liqueur.
Where the Etrog is all bright citrus and floral notes, Bessamim blankets your tongue in warm spices. Vanilla, cloves, and a spicy kick from cinnamon make this a very interesting spirit. It’s almost like if Licor 43, Allspice Dram and Becherovka had a three way.
When I get a new spirit in the bar, I try to keep things simple with the first few drinks. It allows me to get better acquainted with my new acquisition. Three or four ingredients is normally the sweet spot. In this case, rum was the first base spirit I thought of, since Bessamim’s flavor profile has a bit of a tiki vibe going on. There is also a subtle sweetness behind all that, and often the vanilla is most pronounced. Something bitter is needed to provide some contrast.
I scanned the amari section of my bar, and my eyes fell on Ramazzotti. Now my wheels are turning. This amaro isn’t rip-your-tongue out bitter, so it wouldn’t overpower the Bessamim. Ramazzotti has an unmistakable cola/root beer flavor, which I thoroughly enjoy. In my head, these two spirits would form some boozy cream soda/root beer amalgam that was too good not to try.
My first attempt was simply rum, Ramazzotti and Bessamim. Close, but not quite – the rum dominated more than I hoped. Then I thought about just swapping the rum for bourbon, but I was worried the whiskey would take over in a similar way. But what if I used them both? Not quite a split base, but still each could bring their own unique sweetness and alcohol bite to the glass.
The second attempt was a vast improvement. Even on the nose there was a marked difference. No longer having to fight through the rum funk, all the spices in the Bessamim came through. With the bready sweetness from the bourbon, it was like opening the oven after baking a holiday cake. These spices continued on the sip, as cinnamon pricked the tongue immediately. Roots and spices from the amaro knocked around too, as the funky rum cloud hung over everything. Every sip different spices emerged, sometimes more clove, sometimes more bitter orange and cola from the Ramazzotti. Adding bourbon really paid off as the swallow was nice and smooth, and warmed from the core as it went down.
What I love most about these two liqueurs from Sukkah Hill Spirits is how different they are – zesty and sharp vs warm and brooding. Yet, what they do share is a very well defined sense of flavor. I felt like I could taste every spice labeled on the bottle in this drink if I focused on it. A few more experimentations are absolutely in the future, but I wish I had a bigger bottle to play around with.