Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Czech out Becherovka, the Czech Republic's finest amaro
You've probably seen the distinctive bottle on the shelf at BevMo, on some back bar, or perhaps in the hands of SF bartender Russell Davis (above) but could never pronounce it: it's "becker-OV-ka." Becherovka, an amaro, has been produced in the village of Karlovy Vary (aka Carlsbad) in the Czech Republic for over 200 years. It's making its way onto the cocktail menus all over the city, such as Local Edition and Rickhouse. It's also regularly stocked at a huge variety of bars, such as Clock Bar, Cantina, Dave's in SOMA and Bender's in the Mission.
The amaro is by far the most drinkable amaro I've had. Anyone can pick up an ice cold glass of this stuff (keep the water content to a minimum, so store it in your freezer) and immediately fall in love. It's not very bitter, but you definitely get a little bit of bite, especially when it's served cold. The flavors I get most are cinnamon and then clove on the finish. There are 38 other spices and herbs in the secret recipe, but only two people in the world know what they all are and in what proportions (seriously).
In addition to tasting great on its own, Becherovka also mixes very well with others. We recently enjoyed a few cocktails starring Becherovka at the Burritt Room in the Mystic Hotel
Usually, a Bijou contains gin, vermouth, and chartreuse. This version substitutes the Becherovka for the chartreuse, and it's incredible. The Becherovka blends perfectly into the cocktail; it doesn't drown out any of the flavors but only enhances them.
Becherovka citrus cocktail. This one is a variant on an Aviation or Last Word, depending how you interpret the recipe. It's got Becherovka, gin, lemon, falernum. I was pleasantly surprised to see Becherovka work so well in a citrusy drink.
A Hot Toddy with Becherovka is my next winter drink obsession. Its flavor profile makes it super easy, too. All you need to do is add a bit of lemon and honey to some Becherovka and hot water and you're done.
At $24.99, this amaro is substantially cheaper than most amaros we'll review. It's worth buying.