Are you bored in lockdown? Try out these five untraditional spring cocktails using popular Czech liquors that will bring the taste of the season indoors.
#1 – Beetroot and Becherovka
Anyone familiar with the Czech Republic is familiar with Becherovka. Initially created to help with stomach illnesses, Becherovka is an herbal, botanical liqueur that has been around since 1807. It grew to be a popular digestif and was one of the only goods widely exported to the West during the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. In modern times, Becherovka is used in many innovative ways. One of the most popular cocktails that utilizes the liqueur is the Beton, a twist on a Gin and Tonic invented in 1967. The following version takes the original recipe and adds a touch of Spring with a bit of beetroot juice. It is earthy, bitter, and perfect for sipping on a warm day.
Original Becherovka – 1 oz
Tonic Water – 1.75 oz
Beetroot Juice – .75 oz
Add the Becherovka and tonic water to a glass filled with ice. Top with beetroot juice. Garnish with a lemon, cucumber, or radish if desired.
#2 – Fernet Spritz
Originally from Italy, Fernet is an Italian type of Amaro, an herbal liqueur most often drunken as an aperitif or digestif. During the late 1800s, the Czech businessman Rudolf Jelinek created a unique recipe for his own classic herbal liqueur. Jelinek’s recipe is unlike most types of Fernet due to its sweetness. The following cocktail is a version of the Aperol Spritz, a classic drink that is also popular in the Czech Republic. The R. Jelinek Fernet take on the Spritz is light and refreshing with a warm spiciness.
R. Jelinek Fernet – 2 oz
Sparkling Wine – 3 ounces
Soda Water – 1 oz
Add the Fernet to a glass with ice and stir. Top with sparkling wine and soda water. Finish with a lemon wedge if desired.
#3 – Slivovice and Honey
While the origins of Slivovice in the Czech Republic may be foggy, it is clear that Czechs, especially Moravians, take great pride in this high-proof liqueur. It is considered to be a type of plum brandy, but many people make a version at home with varying fruits. Many kinds of Slivovice exist throughout Central and Eastern Europe. There are even more opinions on which regions grow the best fruit and make the best liqueur. It is often drunken at room temperature or slightly chilled, and it is not often used in cocktails. The following recipe is a simple and sweet drink that allows the flavors of Slivovice to come through.
Slivovice – 2 oz
Honey Syrup – .75 ounces
Lime Juice – .5 oz
Make honey syrup the same way as any simple syrup: simmer a 1-1 ratio of honey and water until a thick consistency is reached. For a chilled version of the cocktail, add the ingredients to a shaker and shake with some ice. Strain into a glass and enjoy. Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a glass and stir for a room temperature version.
#4 – Jägermeister and Pomegranate
While Jägermeister is not a Czech-born liqueur, it is incredibly popular in the country today. Similar to many of the other liqueurs on this list, Jägermeister is an herbal, botanical digestif. It originally comes from Germany, and its history is a remarkable tale of marketing brilliance. To appeal to a broader and younger audience, Jägermeister hired scantily clad women to help advertise. Apparently, the women also shot Jägermeister into the mouths of men at bars using spray guns. These “Jägerettes” helped grab attention, but the real uprise began in the 1980s, as large college parties became increasingly popular. The release of a tap machine that provides the perfectly cold shot and eventual development of the Jägerbomb created a brand synonymous with the party scene. The following drink is a bit easier to sip than a Jägerbomb, with a sweet and mildly herbal flavor.
Jägermeister – 2 oz
Pomegranate Syrup – .75 ounces
Strawberry Lemonade – .5 oz
To make the pomegranate syrup, simmer 12 oz of pomegranate juice, 3 oz of sugar, and one teaspoon of lemon juice until a thick consistency is reached. Add the ingredients to a shaker and shake with some ice. Strain into a glass and enjoy. Garnish with a lemon wedge if desired.
#5 – Absinthe and Mint
Absinthe has an incredibly long history, with evidence of its use as a medicine dating back to 1550 B.C.E in Ancient Egypt. However, the Absinthe produced in the Czech Republic is unique, and its production most likely began in the late 1800s. The type of Absinthe from Czech is called “Bohemian-style” or “Czech-style.” It is less herbal than other Absinthe varieties, making it more versatile as a base for cocktails. The long tradition of diluting Absinthe with water is not unique to the Czech Republic, but the use of fire within its preparation is. The following cocktail does not require you to set anything on fire, but it does contain many similar ingredients to traditional Absinthe preparation.
Czech-style Absinthe – 2 oz
Lime Juice – .5 oz
Simple Syrup – .75 oz
1 Sugar Cube
5 Mint Leaves
Few dashes of Angostura bitters
Gently muddle together the Absinthe, lime juice, simple syrup, sugar cube, and mint leaves. Be careful not to grind the mint. Dump all of the ingredients into a glass and top with ice. Finally, add the bitters and lightly stir them into the drink. Garnish with additional mint leaves if desired.