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I have actually had ROOT for some time but am just getting around to doing a proper review of it. When I first heard of this spirit being introduced, I could not wait to get my hands on some.
ROOT is one of the most interesting liqueurs to have come along in quite some time. It is based on an old herbal remedy called Root Tea. The Native Americans taught this age old recipes to the settlers, where it was passed down from generation to generation.
When Prohibition swept through the country, a pharmacist from Philadelphia removed the alcohol and renamed it “root beer”.
This is unlike any other “root beer” liqueur on the market. Its true flavor is not produced with artificial flavorings nor is it drowned out by sugar. Rather, ROOT, is flavored with birch bark, black tea, spearmint, wintergreen citrus (lemons and oranges), allspice, anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, which help to give
ROOT is delicious and spicy flavor.
On the nose, it has the classic smell that you come to expect from a root beer with just a hint of alcohol. That slight alcohol vapor lets you know this is a powerful 80 proof liqueur.
The flavor is wonderful complex. There are notes of vanilla bean, mint, nutmeg, cinnamon, and birch. As one flavor asserts itself on your palate another quickly emerges. All the flavors vie for attention on your palate, yet the spirit never seems to be out of balance, with the cane sugar keeping the bitterness in check and smoothing the drink out.
This is a great liqueur to sip neat or experiment in cocktails. My one complaint is that it can be quite challenging to work with and can easily take over a drink. Think of it like an amaro or other bittersweet herbal liqueur and the possibilities become endless.
Suggested retail is around $35 for a 750ml bottle.
Now for some drinks:
My inspiration for this drink was the Black Orpheus.
1.5 ozs Gold Rum (Brugal Anejo)
1 oz ROOT
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz Vanilla Bean Syrup & .5 oz simple syrup
1 dash Fees Old Fashioned Bitters
half spent lime shell 4 or 5 mint leaves
Shake all ingredients with ice then double strain into a high ball glass and add the spent lime shell. Add crushed ice and swizzle until the glass becomes frosted on the outside.
Notes: The ROOT is the major player with its complexity evident throughout the drink but it does not dominate or overwhelm the other flavors. The rum is a smooth undercurrent helping to provide a base for the ROOT. The syrup and mint create extra layers of flavors to dance across the tongue.
The next drink is the Pennsylvania Dutch Manhattan created by Jason Wilson, who writes an excellent column at the Washington Post.
Pennsylvania Dutch Manhattan
1.5 oz rye whiskey
.5 oz ROOT
.5oz Bianco or Bianc vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
For the last drink of the night, I offer up my variation of the Pennsylvania Dutch Manhattan.
To Live or to Exist?
2 oz rye whiskey (Redemption Rye)
.5 oz ROOT
tsp Luxardo Maraschino
1 dash of Regan’s Orange No.6 Bitters
1 dash Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
Combine all ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
I discovered this recipe while skimming through the 75th Anniversary Edition of Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide. The recipe calls for 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, which I did not have on hand. The notes for the drink state that this particular bourbon has a higher than average content of rye. I decided to go with a rye whiskey (Redemption Rye), although Bulleit Bourbon would have been another excellent choice.
2 oz 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon Whiskey (Redemption Rye or Bulleit Bourbon)
.75 oz white crème de cacao
.5oz lemon juice
1 dash (tsp) of grenadine (hibiscus grenadine)
shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Some recipes call for equal parts of the first 3 ingredients and do not specify a high rye content bourbon. This will create an overall sweeter drink compared to the recipe I have listed. You should experiment to see which suits your palate best.
While its pink color may lure you into thinking its a sweet drink with no bite, beware for the rye gives it its fangs. There is sweet chocolately goodness throughout the drink with the rye making its presence felt near the end.
I came across this cocktail on Cocktaildb.com
Elk’s Own (special) Cocktail
1.5oz rye whiskey (Redemption Rye)
.75oz Port (Noval Black)
.5oz lemon juice
.25oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Combine all ingredients and dry shake for approximately 10secs. Then add ice and shake for another 10. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple slice (I didn’t have any at home)
Notes: The rich purplish red color is extremely alluring with a soft cloud of egg white resting on top. The egg smooths out the drink and helps all the flavors to meld together. The port added a rich fruitiness to the cocktail with the rye and lemon juice keeping it from being overly sweet.