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Nut Liqueurs for Holiday Drinking
Most nut liqueurs are made by blending nuts with a mixture of botanicals (herbs, spices, flowers) and letting them steep in plain alcohol for period of time. The solids are removed, the strained alcohol is sweetened, and then the liqueur is bottled.
You'll find nut liqueurs turning up in holiday drinks. Let's go over some of the varieties.
Amaretto is probably the most common of all of the nutty liqueurs, and the most popular brand is Disaronno. Amaretto can be worked into a number of cocktail recipes including martinis, cosmos, and margaritas. My mother likes to drink it mixed with grapefruit juice. Funny enough, while almond is the flavor everyone associates with amaretto, most liqueurs use apricot kernels to get their almond-like flavor. (You may recall my Nuts vs. Drupes post where almonds and apricots are exposed as kissing cousins).
Hazelnut liqueur turns up in a number of cocktails and is often paired with "Irish cream" liqueur. Adding some hazelnut liqueur to coffee or hot chocolate is an especially delicious, albeit adult treat. The most popular brand is Frangelico. Legend has it that the first hazelnut liqueur was brewed by the Dominican monk Fra Angelico.
Most walnut liqueurs, or nocino, are made in Italy and imported to the U.S. If you're not lucky enough to find Benvenuti (the walnut liqueur in a walnut-shaped bottle in the photo above), you should seek out Monteverdi Spirits from the Napa Valley, which produces their nocino from California brandy infused with Napa Valley walnuts. Another option which is slightly more widely available is Nocello, another Italian brand which is actually a blend of walnut and hazelnut liqueurs.
There's a peanut flavored vodka on the market called NutLiquor. There's also company from the island of St. Lucia called that makes a creamy peanut rum drink called Castries Peanut Rum Crème. This flavor combo makes a lot of sense and the product, which has won numerous medals at spirits competitions, is tasty.
Do you use nut flavored liqueurs in any of your favorite mixed drinks or holiday cocktails?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.