Cedilla – Açai Liqueur from the House of Leblon

Here comes Brazil!

I just got my hands on Leblon`s new açai liqueur…

Açai is a new macerated fruit liqueur made by Maison Leblon and is made from Zambazon açai berries from the Amazon region in Brazil. Straight from the rainforest, exotic and purple – yeah…this really speaks to me.

I “sort of” knew what açai berriers were ( i have heard about them in the context of heatlh) but i didn`t really know what they were and as usual when i get a sample of something new i start doing my reserach – so what exactly is açai berries?

The word açai – means “the berry that cries” – they are glossy blue and purple berries from Brazil contaning LOADS of antioxidants. The berries are the fruits of a palm tree that grows slowly under the humid and shady rainforest canopy in South and Central America and take 4-5 years before producing fruit.

The berry has a rich flavor similar to cherry with a hint of chocolate. The liqueur Cedilla is made with handpicked Zambazon açai berries and Zambazon means that they are certified organic & fair trade.

The berries are macerated and blended with the highest quality alambique Cachaça from the Maison Leblon in Patos de Minas, Brazil. And what you get is a rich fruity flavor with complex chocolate, spice, and berry notes. It`s bottled at ABV 25%.

Sounds good? well, it does to me….I was actually quite curious about the flavor of this product and disappointed i was not – instead i was rather surprised. It´s really yummy – fruity, complex, distinct and very much reminding of a finer ruby port.

There´s great ways to use it too, it goes down nicely neat of course but my main interest is to use it in mixed drinks.

Usually a good rule of thumb when it comes to local products is that they most often goes best together with other products from the same area or climate. So i went and searched for Brazilian recipes to either use as is or tweak a little bit to create something new.

But you also need to step outside the boundaries sometimes how else shall you discover something different and exciting? and to me – of course you can use this in tiki drinks too – you can use it in everything – despite that not being very Brazilian…but believe me i`m gonna try that too.

But the first drink that comes to mind when thinking about Brazil just has to be the caipirinha and mixed with cachaça, sugar and lime how can it be anything but glorious?

Açai Caipirinha

2 oz Leblon Cachaça
1 oz Cedilla
½ oz sugarcane syrup or 1-2 tsp fine sugar
6 lime wedges cut in quarters (1 large lime)

Muddle the limes and fine sugar or sugarcane syrup in a mixing glass. Add Cedilla and Leblon Cachaça. Fill with ice, shake well and pour all into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Very tasty!

And here´s another recipe i found over at Leblon:

Salvador Sling

2 oz Leblon Cachaça
1 oz Cedilla
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz ginger liqueur (i used Domaine de Canton)
2 oz pineapple juice
Dash of angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a highball or other glass filled with cracked ice, and garnish with a pineapple slice.

Oh this is yummy…this cocktail has a quite mature taste, it´s semi-sweet and there`s lots of “port” flavor in it from the Cedilla but also somehow the ginger flavor marries into it and makes the impression stronger.

An interesting variety would be to muddle fresh ginger into this instead of the liqueur.

This is a sip and savor kinda cocktail.

And now it´s time for a tiki drink as well and since Cedilla has a taste of a light ruby port i think it would be interesting to make a twist of Martin Cate´s “Dead Reckoning” and switch the tawny port for Cedilla and the rum for aged cachaca and a high proof dark rum with attitude like Smith and Cross. And finally switch the angostura bitters for one – just one dash of Mozart chocolate bitters….

Brazilian Dead Reckoning

1 oz fresh lemon juice

1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

0.5 oz Navan vanilla liqueur

0.5 oz Cedilla

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

1 oz Leblon Reserva aged cachaca

1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1 dash chocolate bitters (Mozart)

1 oz soda water

Well well well…..this was a DRINK!! very strong, very spicy…with that hint of chocolate…just the way i like it! when the ice dilutes it just a little bit it becomes perfect!

I have to say that Cedilla acai liqueur is a very good liqueur indeed…and you can do a lot with it – it fits in most styles of cocktails – go get it!

I don´t know where it´s sold right now outside of Brazil or if it even is but you may contact Leblon to find out.

I really like the Cedilla! it´s tasty, versatile, exotic and warm!

On a sidenote – the word Cedilla is from the Old Spanish name for the letter, ceda (zeta) A cedilla – also known as cedilha or cédille, is a hook ( ¸ ) added under certain letters as a accent mark to modify their pronunciation. In this case it becomes a “soft” c.

Pictures of acai berries at the plantation are courtesy the House of Leblon.

PLANTATION RUM ORIGINAL DARK OVERPROOF

Now this is really interesting – here is one more rum especially designed for today’s exotic and tiki cocktails. To me that is a proof that the tiki drink trend is here in full force but not just as a trend, i believe it´s here to stay – that the tiki drinks finally have gotten their recognition and place in the cocktail world.

They have been here for long i know but after they were abandoned and eventually replaced by overly sweet slushy concoctions not worthy the name “tiki drink”.  The so called faux tropical, exotic or tiki drinks have been very slowly coming back – and finally is today really getting more recognition everywhere.

To quote Paul Clarke over at Cocktail Chronicles:

The thing I like about many tiki drinks–is the kind of baroque complexity in the glass. Ideas of mixological structure and balance are thrown completely aside in many of these drinks, but if you keep a close eye on the proportions in your mix–you can create something that’s pleasantly unexpected.

And now we get rums especially designed for them! The next such rum i have on hand  is Plantation rum original overproof made by the house of Cognac Ferrand.

I first tried this rum at the UK rumfest, in the so called “RumFrat House” which is the HQ for the Rum XP folks. I really liked its rich deep taste and that little taste i got there did spark my curiosity and i`ve been very eager to get going mixing with it.

This rum is like i said, created by the Cognac Ferrand estate, owned by Alexandre Gabriel. Plantation Original Dark Overproof is bottled at 73% alcohol by volume making it 146 proof and is created in Trinidad. It is a stronger, bolder and more flavorful version of Plantation Original Dark Rum which is a blend of Trinidad dark rums aged in young bourbon casks.

Plantation Original Dark Overproof  is available both in the US and Europe. In the US it will retail for $29.99 for a 1-liter bottle and is available nationwide. In Europe you can get it from Drinkology and The Whiskey Exchange.

It joins the Plantation Rum portfolio as a unique addition for two reasons: 1) It is the only overproof rum in the collection and 2) It is the only rum that is not double aged.

The double aging process is where the rums are distilled and aged in their country of origin and then shipped to the Ferrand estate in Cognac, France where they are aged for several more months in small, used French oak barrels. The reason Original Dark Overproof is not double aged is that at the delicate changes imparted by the double-aging technique would be lost on a rum that is such high proof.

So how does it smell and taste like?

Nose – I can feel sweet sugarcane, some wood, banana peels and spice. Especially the banana peels are present but not overpowering, it gets me to think about those exotic banana food wraps… The nose is very refined and delightful, I could sit and sniff all day..

Palate – Toasted and dried tropical fruits, strong but not unpleasant alcohol burn, wood, molasses and tropical dried fruit.

The sum of it – I`d say it´s a pleasant tasting strong, complex and fruity rum that is great to mix exotic drinks with, but i also do believe it would make a stunning daiquiri paired with some other rum or Plantation Original Dark.

I decided to make a few of Martin Cate´s drinks with it since i`m a big fan of his flavorful and inventive rum cocktails. So here we go – starting with a favorite:

DEAD RECKONING (Martin Cate, Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco)

0.5 oz Plantation Original Dark Overproof

1.5 oz Plantation Original Dark

0.5 oz Navan Vanilla Liqueur

0.5 oz Maple Syrup

0.5  oz Tawny Port (Sandeman)

1 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Pineapple Juice

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass or tiki mug filled with cracked ice. Top with 1 oz of soda

Garnish with a fresh and spanked mint sprig, pineapple leaves and lemon peel.

Tasty as always, i choosed to go Plantation all the way instead of using 1 oz of another type of rum but you can always experiment! This is one of Martin`s legendary drinks. He is a drink-genious did i tell you that?

TRINIDAD DRY FLOAT (This is the demerara dry float with Plantation overproof… name courtesy Martin Cate)

2 1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 oz passion fruit syrup

1/4 oz sugar syrup

1 oz  Plantation Original Overproof Rum

1/4 ounce 151 Demerara rum to float

1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur

Shake everything except the 151 rum with ice, strain into double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice, and carefully float the 151. Do not stir.

This version of the Demerara Dry Float is a killer cocktail! – a dangerous drink… so tasty and so strong since it contains no less than two overproof rums… so be careful. I really enjoyed this one.

TRINIDAD HOOK (Martin Cate, Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco)

1 oz Plantation Trinidad Overproof

1 oz Plantation Original Dark

1 oz passion-honey mix

.5 oz – .75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (to taste)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all in an ice-filled cocktail shaker; shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime peel spiral.

Passion-honey mix:

Gently heat honey until liquid and whisk in an equal amount of pure unsweetened passion fruit nectar. Let cool and refrigerate.

I made my passion-honey mix with homemade passionfruit syrup and honey instead since i can´t find any passionfruit nectar. It worked like a charm, very tasty. If you need a recipe for passionfruit syrup it´s here – or go get B.G Reynold´s.

This is a strong and very yummy daquiri-ish cocktail that went down waaaay to easily….very tasty!

So what`s next? there´s a whole parade of strong tiki drinks to use this rum in, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry mentioned the Zombie…. but be careful with overproof rums, too much will give you a headache, just right is the way to go.

For more information about Cognac Ferrand, visit www.cognacferrand.com or www.plantationrum.com or www.facebook.com/PlantationRum