|Strasbourg (Alsace), France|
St. Raphael from Alsace, France: St. Raphael is a fortified wine served as an aperitif or digestif. It has a secret recipe created by a gentleman named Doctor Juppet dating back to the 1830s and, back in those days, was sold mainly in pharmacies. The formula contains a blend of French wines, quinine, cocoa beans, bitter oranges, vanilla pods and calumba, among other herbs and seeds. It comes in red and white bottlings, often referred to as “twins” in France, depending on the grape varieties used in making them. It is mostly used in cocktails emphasizing its bittersweet qualities, but I really like it chilled with a single cube of ice served to with a rich chocolaty desert. Despite its big fame and worldwide success after the Second World War, it was forgotten lately, became very hard to find, and disappeared completely around 2010. They even shut down the web presence of the company. Luckily the brand got resurrected within last year under new ownership and slowly is getting easier to find in northern France and Belgium.
|Kastellorizo (Megisti), Greece|
|Montrachet (Burgundy), France|
Ajerkoniak from Poland: Now, this is a confusing label... Actually Akerkoniak is the Polish equivalent of Advocaat, which is a Dutch liquor traditionally made from eggs, sugar and brandy but, despite the word “cognac” (koniak) in its name, this Polish version contains vodka instead of brandy as its main ingredient. I know how it sounds, and it requires a lot of convincing to take the first sip for the ones who are not comfortable having some eggs in their glasses, but it is beyond delicious. Some expressions are served with a spoon because it’s so thick and creamy. The liquor has a smooth, velvety mouth feel and the palate is sweet and custardy. Great when it is served a little heated on winter days and also very enjoyable on summer afternoons with an ice cube.
[edited by Teresa Hartmann]
*Originally written for and posted at The Alcohol Professor on March 11th, 2014.