Bénédictine Cocktails: How To Use Bénédictine

by
August 5, 2020

For many imbibers, Bénédictine remains as mysterious as the monks who originally made the French liqueur. In fact, the recipe remains shrouded in secrecy to this day. The product as we know it was created by Alexandre Le Grand in 1863. He used a cognac base along with 27 herbs and spices, balancing out the creation with honey. Famously, only three people are said to know the recipe and production specifics, a lineage which theoretically goes back to the early 16th century, when Benedictine monk Don Bernardo Vincelli crafted the original libation.

When properly deployed as a modifier, the liqueur has any number of excellent applications. Bénédictine cocktails include a star-studded list of classics and innovative new takes push the liqueur in fresh directions.

Classic Bénédictine Cocktails

Vieux Carré

– .75 ounce rye whiskey
– .75 ounce cognac
– .75 ounce sweet vermouth
– .25 ounce Bénédictine
– 1 dash Angostura bitters
– 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

Directions: Stir all ingredients well with ice. Strain and pour over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Few cocktails have the prestige and lineage of the Vieux Carré, which made its debut in New Orleans circa the 1930s. It’s a potent potable, delivering a refined complexity that touches upon both the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, while being entirely distinctive on its own.

Bénédictine cocktails: Vieux CarréVieux Carré /Photo Credit: Bénédictine

Bobby Burns

-1.5 ounce blended Scotch whisky
-1.5 ounce sweet vermouth
-.5 ounce Bénédictine

Directions: Stir all ingredients well with ice. Strain and serve up. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Bobby Burns builds out from the Rob Roy, itself essentially a Scotch whisky Manhattan. Here, Bénédictine plays off an equal parts ratio of Scotch whisky and vermouth for a zippier, herbaceous rendition of the drink.

Preakness

– 1.5 ounces rye whiskey
– .75 ounce sweet vermouth
– .25 ounce Bénédictine
– 1 dash Angostura bitters

Directions: Stir all ingredients well with ice. Strain and serve up. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Also known as the Preakness Manhattan, this cocktail is named for the second segment of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Here Bénédictine reduces the role of sweet vermouth, adding a new layer of complexity.

More Bénédictine Cocktails

Belle Matinée

-2 ounces Bénédictine
-.5 ounce white grapefruit juice
-.5 ounce lemon juice
-.25 ounce orange juice
-.25 ounce jasmine tea honey syrup*
– 5-6 ounces club soda or sparkling water

Directions: Shake the first five ingredients well with ice. Top with club soda, and strain into a highball glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon slice.

*For the Jasmine tea honey syrup, combine 1 tea bag jasmine tea, a quarter cup of water and aa quarter cup of honey in a small saucepan. Heat until the honey has dissolved and steep for five to 10 minutes before removing the tea bag.

“When making a drink with Bénédictine, I think teas and ginger work really well to help create interesting flavor profiles,” says Chandler Tomayko, of Underground Cooking Club. “I think it gets overlooked too often, and with a background in both the kitchen and the bar, I also love cooking with it.” In this citrus-forward Highball, Bénédictine, tea, and honey are brought to life with a trio of juices. Additionally, Tomayko enjoys creating Bénédictine cocktails with rye whiskey and pear.

Bénédictine cocktails: Belle MatinéeBelle Matinée /Photo Credit: Bénédictine

French Film

-1.5 ounces dry vermouth
-.5 ounce Bénédictine
-.5 ounce honey syrup
-.5 ounce lemon juice

Directions: Shake all ingredients well with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon twist. Prepare honey syrup as you would a 1:1 simple syrup.

In this Francophile low-ABV cocktail, Boston bartender and cocktail book author Fred Yarm builds on the subtle complexity of dry vermouth, and amplifies the Bénédictine with honey and lemon. “Drambuie has been pigeonholed as a sweetener for Scotch drinks, but it works incredibly well with agave spirits like tequila and mezcal, other grassy or vegetal spirits like rhum agricole and cachaça, genever and apple brandy, and also plays nicely with fortified wines, including Lillet and sherry,” he says. “All too often people ignore this grand liqueur because it is not as flashy as certain flavors of the moment, but it can make for great margarita riffs, tiki drinks, and bitter-brown-and-down cocktails.

Don’t Bring Me Down

-1.5 ounces bourbon
-.5 ounce Bénédictine
-.5 ounce Cardenal Mendoza Angêlus Liqueur
-.5 ounce Creme de Cassis
-3 dashes baked apple bitters

Directions: Stir all ingredients well with ice. Strain and serve up in a coupe glass. Garnish with an expressed orange twist.

New York bartender and consultant Paula Lukas deploys several bold flavors in such a way that each gets a slice of the limelight. “The type of flavors that work well with Bénédictine are ones that will enhance, and not compete or get hidden, when blended with the rice flavors and spices of this herbal liqueur,” she says. “Flavors of orange, cardamom and black currant along with baked apple really enhance Bénédictine, and the smoothness of bourbon (she uses Michter’s US 1 Small Batch) brings it all together nicely. As for the Cardenal Mendoza Angêlus, the base spirit is Spanish brandy with the addition of delicious citrus along with spices, and the aroma of dried fruit and orange blossom complements the herbal and floral notes of Bénédictine.”

Wipe off that dusty bottle or go buy a fresh one and start experimenting with Bénédictine cocktails. Clearly there are many ways Bénédictine can be put to satisfying use.


Ready to whip up some Bénédictine cocktails?

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