Lyon Liqueurs: Curacao
A while ago, Lyon Distilling, a rum maker on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, was kind enough to provide us with samples of most of their products. We had such a good time tasting, experimenting with, and writing about their excellent and interesting rums that we had to leave their liqueurs for another time. To our great delight, we finally had the chance to return to Lyon and its liqueurs this week.
Today, we’re trying their curacao.
Curacao is one of the many, many orange peel liqueurs. Back when we first started this blog, we mentioned that orange peels are, surprisingly, almost certainly the most common primary liqueur flavor. If you think about it from a production end rather than a consumer end, it’s perhaps not so surprising. Orange juice is required in many, many things: cooking, cocktails, American breakfasts. With all of those oranges being juiced, there are an awful lot of peels lying around. What to do with them? A very common answer to that question–regarding many different surplus products–over history has been, ‘Let’s see what happens when we distill it?’ With orange peels, that invitation has led to a staggering number of very interesting, variably bitter, variably sweet, differently colored liqueurs that have proven invaluable to a staggering number of classic cocktail recipes. Maybe peels are actually the primary product, and juice the industrial waste.
In those very early posts, we suggested that if you’re only going to stock one orange peel liqueur, you should make it Aperol. We suggested that because Aperol is the most adaptable, being able to capably fill the place of many orange peel liqueurs. With the caveat that Rinomato, to which we were recently introduced, might actually out-Aperol Aperol, we stand by what we said. Aperol–or maybe Rinomato–is the most adaptable of the orange peel liqueurs. Our opinion comes with a confession, though: we oursleves don’t stock just one orange peel liqueur; we always have several, for different specialty needs. You probably noticed this if you’ve read us for a while and pay close attention.
While Aperol might be the most flexible of the orange peel liqueurs, curacao is the one called for in the most recipes. There’s a problem with curacao’s necessity: most of the available curacao’s–how do we say this delicately?–are terrible. There’s one shining exception, rising far above it’s competitors (in price, it must be admitted, as well as quality; but in price much less than in quality). That shining exception is Pierre Ferrand‘s dry curacao, a truly lovely liqueur on a fine Cognac base.
Lyon Distilling, this small upstart distiller in Maryland, has decided Pierre Ferrand needs a contender (my words, not theirs. Take note, Pierre.) And, what do you know, they’ve made a good try. Their curacao has a base of rum, a mix of bitter and sweet orange, cardamom and clove, sugar, and sundry other spices. It has a nice clean texture, a light orange and spice front, and a vanilla back. It’s quite nice. I don’t think it quite matches Pierre Ferrand’s fully-integrated, well-rounded flavor. The fact that I’m seriously considering it face to face with Pierre Ferrand, though, says a lot. Curacao is often a grace note in a cocktail; so doing a lot with a little is crucial. And Pierre Ferrand does that excellently. Lyon, to its credit, also does it quite well, well enough that we enjoyed it in this Holland Gin Daisy.
There are infinite variations on the Daisy floating around. We got this one from Paul Clarke’s Cocktail Chronicles.
Holland Gin Daisy Cocktail Recipe
- 1 1/2 oz genever
- 3/4 oz curacao
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 2 tsp club soda
- lemon twist, for garnish
- Shake the genever, curacao, and lemon juice with ice until your hands start to get cold.
- Strain into a cocktail glass.
- Top with soda.
- Garnish with lemon twist.