Apricot fizz? Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe gin, I don’t know.

Hey there, it’s me again! I hope at least a few of you will get the song reference in the title. In case if you’re curious and like 00s bad quality EDM try replacing the word “gin” with another 3 letter word and Googling.

So this cocktail related story begins in the Autumn of 2016 when I decided to pick up (a ridiculously overpriced, because of Chicago and Hyde Park specifically) a bottle of Luxardo Albicocca. It’s​ an Italian apricot flavored liqueur, with strong natural apricot aroma and flavor. As far as I know, and please get back to me if I’m wrong on this one, it’s made by infusing a neutral spirit with apricot pulp[1]. The bottle has spent at least a couple of weeks on my shelf completely untouched, because my first idea was searching the web for related cocktails. However, none of the “trusted” websites and blogs have not had a single recipe that would catch my attention. Finally, I decided to mess around with this liqueur, and my first experiment was an utter failure. I’ve underestimated the sweetness of this goddamn thing, and the result was a disgusting mixture that had the taste and texture of a jar of apricot jam mixed with a jar of cheapest gin. Not good. If you wonder what I do when I hit a heavy roadblock in terms of taming a new spirit, then here is the most honest answer ever: I just put it on the top shelf and forget about it for a couple of months. In this particular case, a couple equals till late June (you can do the math on your own). Now, when I say I did not find any reputable recipes, I am partially distorting the truth (i.e. lying). My recipes Google document says that there is a cocktail, named P. T. Barnum Cocktail, that hits very close to what I’m about to describe. Furthermore, I recall writing down this recipe no later than February of this year. Thus, I had the right (modulo minor changes) proportions in the back of my mind for quite some time, but I guess I never came to realize them in liquid form.

This week I’ve had quite an influx of guest at the place I’m staying at for the summer. Between all the dinner parties, small friendly chats, and post move-in recovery sessions I’ve been slowly returning to the issue of incorporating Luxardo’s apricot liqueur into my mixology routine. Below you can find the recipe I’ve finally settled on after a series of mildly unsuccessful experiments that will be discussed in a greater detail further in the post.

P. T. Barnum cocktail/Apricot fizz/[Your name goes here]
2oz of gin (Bombay Sapphire)
¾oz of Luxardo Apricot liqueur
¾oz of lime juice
2-3 dashes of peach bitters (Fee Brothers)
Shake with ice, and serve on rocks in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a fresh peach wedge.

These proportions, as well as, the entirety of the recipe were synthesized purely by experimentation and continuous tasting. However, before I sat down and started writing this post I’ve made a tiny bit of research on the liqueur, and as a consequence came across this website. Two things have upset me quite a bit after seeing this. First of all, the price of the liqueur is much lower than what I had to pay for this damned bottle (~$35 modulo my faulty memory). Second reason is the sudden realization that the recipe was out there for a long time and I’m reinventing the wheel rather than discovering the Higgs boson. On the other hand, the relatively large spread of the recipe suggests that this is indeed a palatable concoction, and I’ve been on the right track during my experimental synthesis process.

As I’ve mentioned before, there were several failed formulas that occurred during the synthesis. Most of the issues were coming from using incorrect proportions. In particular, just as the Luxardo official website tells us, this is a sweet liqueur. Sweetness is extreme, and underestimating it will bite you in the ass, especially if you are like me in terms of cocktail taste (dry, strong, aromatic, but most of the flavors should be preferably in the aftertaste, rather than in the “in your the face” part). One specific recipe that deserves a bit more attention and credit involved strong black tea. This has been an ongoing project of mine for quite some time, and sadly it still has not come to a satisfying conclusion. Incorporating tea (we are talking cold and unsweetened really strong tea) into cocktails have been my dream for more than a year at this point. However, most teas have very nuanced and balanced flavors that do not mix that well with most of the spirits I’ve used so far. While there always is an option of infusing alcohol with tea (Jamie Boudreau’s Gunpowder liquor) or using tea leaves to “smoke” a cocktail, i’m mostly looking for incorporating the beverage itself into the mix. While I’m moderately happy with this recipe, which puts the question of Luxardo apricot liqueur to rest for some time, the search for a tea cocktail continues.

I welcome any corrections, historical facts, and other suggestions or completions to this story. In the meantime explore Luxardo’s great selection of spirits and stay tuned for more recipes and updates!

Footnotes, and other thoughts

I’m curious what would happen if instead of neutral spirit the base would be an apricot brandy. In general the question of infusing fruit brandies with the respective (or neighboring/well-paired) fruit sounds very interesting and I’m up for conducting several experiments of my own. However, there is a clear problem that I can see in my current situation. Cheap fruit brandies (looking at you nasty, nasty E&J) are often excessively artificially flavored from the start, which completely ruins the purpose of the experiment. On the other hand, more expensive fruit brandies often cross the price line of an “experimentation alcohol” at a rather fast pace. My best bet at this point is tapping into the friends of friends network and contacting people who have their own small distilleries. Then I can possibly acquire a small batch of fruit brandy at a reasonable price. Another rather interesting spin on the entire enterprise would be addition of barrel aging to the process, but again this puts the end product in a notably different category from Luxardo’s liqueur, because to my knowledge sweet liqueurs tend to not be barrel aged.

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