Bénédictine D.O.M. is an old liqueur yet it has a well-deserved place in the modern bar. It is one of the most versatile herbal liqueurs and its sweet honey and spice taste can be found in some of the best cocktails enjoyed today. If you have a taste for refined, spiced, sweetness, Bénédictine is a liqueur you'll want to pick up.
The Taste of Bénédictine
Bénédictine is a truly unique liqueur and it can be difficult to describe its taste. The recipe uses 27 plants and spices and none of those dominates the blend.
Unlike other herbal liqueurs, Bénédictine is not medicinal. Instead, it has the flavor of sweet honey accented with holiday spices, stone fruits, and an herbal nuance. Imagine brandy mixed with gin and sweetened with honey and you'll have a close idea of the intriguing taste of Bénédictine .
You will also notice that Bénédictine is not a mild liqueur. It is bottled at a full 40 percent alcohol by volume (80 proof), which is the same as the average whiskey, rum, or any of the other base spirits. This higher alcohol content punctuates its flavor medley, creating a bold, robust and complex liqueur.
Other things to note about Bénédictine:
- Bénédictine can be enjoyed on its own.
- Much like a good whiskey, its flavor comes to life with a single ice cube (the larger the better).
- The liqueur is famous for a simple mix with brandy, which creates a drink called the B&B.
- Bénédictine also bottles and sells a pre-mixed B&B that uses French brandy. It is quite tasty, convenient, and can be used in cocktails, such as the peary bird recipe.
Fun Fact: Ernest Hemingway mentioned the blend of brandy and Bénédictine in his 1919 short story, "The Mercenaries."
You will find that Bénédictine mixes well with a variety of flavors and in a variety of cocktails. From the simple style of the B&B to the complex Vieux Carre, it's a liqueur that can take you many places in your drink adventures. It's no wonder that this is considered a staple in any well-stocked bar.
While you have Bénédictine in stock, be sure to mix up a few of these amazing cocktails:
- The Benediction: This is a simple drink that displays Bénédictine in a very pure form. Pour 3/4 ounce Bénédictine into a Champagne flute, add a dash of orange bitters, and top with Champagne. Add a lemon twist garnish if you like.
- Bobby Burns: A twist on the Robert Burns cocktail, this recipe skips the absinthe and orange bitters. Instead, it mixes the same amounts of scotch and sweet vermouth with 1/2 ounce Bénédictine.
- Cherry Lane: A modern cocktail, this is a great way to enjoy cherry vodka. Simply mix that with Bénédictine, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters and enjoy the sweet, fruity martini.
- Creole Cocktail: A classic, this drink can be thought of as an enhanced bourbon Manhattan, complete with sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, and maraschino liqueur.
- Derby Cocktail: You'll find that Bénédictine and bourbon are an ideal pairing. This recipe shows off the dynamic duo with a dash of bitters.
- Frisco Sour: Adding Bénédictine to a classic whiskey sour alongside lemon and lime juices is a fantastic way to enjoy the taste of old-school cocktails.
- Honeymoon Cocktail: Applejack, orange curaçao, and lemon juice are combined with Bénédictine for yet another tasty classic cocktail from the 1930s.
- Milk & Honey: One of the best (and easiest) ways to enjoy Bénédictine is in this popular recipe. All you need is milk and it can be served warm or cold. It's an iconic nightcap.
- Singapore Sling: Arguably the best-known Bénédictine cocktail, this classic takes a different approach than all the others. It mixes gin, cherry liqueur, lime juice, simple syrup, and club soda along with Bénédictine for an intriguing taste.
The recipe for Bénédictine is proprietary and it is one of those "secret" recipes seen so often in the liqueur side of the distilled spirits industry. While we do not know exactly what goes into it, there are a few things we do know.
Bénédictine is made of 27 plants and spices. It's believed that angelica, hyssop, lemon balm, juniper, saffron, aloe, arnica, and cinnamon are used. The brand, however, makes no claims or allusions to what the exact ingredient list is.
The distillers at Bénédictine will tell us that those 27 ingredients are divided into four groups. Each group is combined with neutral spirits and distilled either once or twice. The result is four distillates called esprits.
The finished esprits are blended with honey for flavor and a saffron infusion for color. This blend is double heated to finish the flavor before going into oak barrels to age for about four months. Before bottling, the liqueur is filtered.
The Bénédictine Story
Bénédictine has a long history and, like many spirits of this age, there may be more myth to it than actual fact. At any rate, it makes for a great story.
The story begins in 1510 with a Bénédictine monk named Dom Bernardo Vincelli at the Abbey de Fécamp in Normandy, France. Vincelli was one of the many monks that dabbled in alchemy during that time and it's said that the original formula which inspired Bénédictine was intended to revive tired monks.
Fast forward to the 1860s and Alexandre Le Grand. The wine merchant was browsing his family's collection that included acquisitions from the 1789 French Revolution during which the monks fled the abbey.
Among the collection was Vincelli's manuscript that included some 200 recipes, one of which was the original formula for this unique herbal liqueur. Le Grand interpreted the incomplete recipe and what we know as Bénédictine today was created.
Le Grand first sold Bénédictine in 1863 and it was imported into the U.S. beginning in 1888. It is produced near the original abbey in Fécamp, France and the brand is now owned by Bacardi Limited.
Fun Fact: The term D.O.M. found on the label stands for Deo Optimo Maximo which translates to "God, infinitely good, infinitely great." It is used to remind everyone of the liqueur's origins at the abbey.