Dekuyper O3 Orange Liqueur

I have to admit a certain fascination with orange liqueur in all of its forms. As soon as I read about Cointreau, I knew I was on the right track. I’m a fan of citrus, and my tastes lean to the sweet side, so orange liqueur fits the bill. There really isn’t any tart in orange liqueurs (at least the ones I’ve tasted). It’s more of an essence of orange, and some are candy-like in the extreme.

So, I have a problem. I see a new orange liqueur, and, I want to try it. And so it was with DeKuyper O3. This is sold as the upscale version of their bottom shelf triple sec. It is listed as being made from “Brazilian Oranges”. It is less assertive in  a cocktail thank Gran Gala, but also has a more natural aroma.

Proof: 80  (40% ABV)

Paid: $17 (on sale) for 750ml

Buy Again: Maybe

DeKuyper Buttershots

Liquid butterscotch. Or is it caramel? Either way, it is a very sweet liqueur. A liquid dessert. I bought this on a whim. There are a number of equally sweet cocktails that can be made with Buttershots. If I didn’t have such a sweet tooth, there is no way I could drink much of it.

Proof: 30 (15% ABV)

Price: $11 for 750ml

Buy again: No

Arrow Banana Liqueur

And here is an example from my ABC state rant. Do I think the perfect banana liqueur is just out of reach? Is there a banana liqueur produced by unicorns that delights the palate? Of course not. As soon as it goes into whatever fruity cocktail, I’ll forget all this nonsense and simply enjoy my artificial banana flavored cocktail.

Look, it tastes like sweet banana candy with alcohol. Who could want anything more.

Proof: 30 (15% ABV)

Paid: $11 for 750ml

Buy again: Yes, since I don’t have a choice in North Carolina.

After Work Special

The After Work Special is a sweet cocktail that is a good showcase for Almond liqueur, and uses pretty common ingredients.

0.75 oz Almond liqueur
0.5 oz Coconut rum
0.25 oz White rum
1 oz Orange juice
1 oz Pineapple juice

In a (Collins) glass, add ice cubes. Add in Almond liqueur, coconut rum, white rum. Top with orange juice and pineapple juice.

Alternatively, add it all in a shaker with ice, shake and serve. Tasty either way!

Copa de Oro Coffee Liqueur

Boy, those sale prices get my attention. While perusing the shelves, I ran across Copa de Oro Coffee Liqueur, a Kahlua knock off. Now, I am a coffee lover. So this was an opportunity to mix coffee and cocktails.

Copa de Oro, upon opening, smells like coffee with sweetener. In a shot glass, the sip revealed a very sweet, thick, coffee syrup. There was very little alcohol taste. Aside from the heavy sweetness, I could drink this straight, or over ice.

The first cocktail I tried was a Black and White, which is simply coffee liqueur and Half ‘n Half. It was very good, but very dessert like. I have also used it more recently in the Mr Bali Hai, which I enjoyed immensely.

I think I’d like to try another brand to see if it is equally as sweet.

Proof: 44 (22% ABV)

Price: $7 for 750ml (on sale)

Buy again: Probably

DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker

Okay, I’m not proud of this. I saw ‘apple’ and thought, “that could be good”. I had heard of apple schnapps and was intrigued. I saw this and thought maybe this would do.

Nope. This was not a good idea. The taste is very tart and very artificial. I have tried to use it in a couple of cocktails and I’ve been disappointed each time. It is in another cabinet now, waiting for a purge, or for someone to come along and ask for something that uses it, and then we can both be disappointed.

I’m still searching for that real apple schnapps.

Proof: 30 (15% ABV)

Paid: $11 for 750ml

Buy again: No

Mocha Cola

Sometimes a cocktail is a very simple concoction. A Rum and Coke fits the bill. Or this one, the Mocha Cola.

I heard about a Japanese release called Coke and Coffee Plus. I figured it had already been done as a cocktail. Of  course it had! As a 1:1 mix, it is very sweet. Strangely enough, adding more cola improved it. A different coffee liqueur may also be less sweet.

1 oz Coffee Liqueur
1 1/2 oz Coke (2 oz works well, too)

Add the ice to a glass, and pour in the coffee liqueur. Add the Coke and stir.

Bols Triple Sec

After trying Cointreau and the realization that sometimes you just don’t like a cocktail and end up pouring it out, I decided to go lower down the shelf for orange liqueurs for experimental cocktails. This time, I left online research behind. I walked into the ABC store and asked the clerk what triple sec was a big seller. The response: Bols Triple Sec. It was a third of the price of  Cointreau at $7.95. Without hesitation, I grabbed a bottle and headed for the register,

Back at the Lair, I unscrewed the top and poured a small amount into a shot glass. I did the same with a bit of Cointreau. The Bols had more of an artificial, or candy, orange aroma. Tasting the two side-by-side surprised me at how sweet they both were. A tiny taste told a similar story, but as always, the alcohol blew away anything else.

I made a scaled down version of a cocktail from each (it could have been a Margarita, it was two years ago). Mixed in with some citrus or another, and with the primary spirit adding its burn, they were mostly identical to me.

It turns out that this would not always be the case, but for now I have learned that a cocktail did not always demand the more expensive ingredient.

Proof: 30 (15%ABV)

Paid: $8 for 750ml

Buy again: No

Liqueur: Overview

If you are looking for the heart of the cocktail for someone who may not care for strong alcohol, the liqueur is it.

A liqueur usually has a lower percentage of alcohol, compared to a liquor. It often brings a fair amount of sugar to the game which makes the alcohol seem to have less “burn”. And let’s not forget the flavoring which is the whole point. It can be a natural or artificial flavor.

In the cocktail world, probably the most well know liqueur is triple sec. If you’ve had a margarita, you’ve had triple sec. There is a large price differential from the bottom shelf to the top. I know there are people out there who can tell the subtle differences between a DeKuyper triple sec and Cointreau or Gran Marnier, but once buried in a cocktail with six other ingredients, I’d hazard that it doesn’t make a huge difference for most people.

Orange Liqueurs
An orange liqueur is generally produced “from the dried peels of bitter and sweet orange” (Wikipedia). This adds a hint of orange flavor, aroma, and sweetness to cocktails.

Limoncello is typically made from the zest of tart lemons that have little bitterness. Lemon zest, or peels without the pith, is steeped in a base spirit until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup (Wikipedia link).

Non-citrus Fruit Liqueurs
Fruit Liqueurs are made from a neutral grain spirit, real or artificial fruit flavors, and sugar.

Almond liqueurs are produced from base of apricot pits, peach pits, or almonds.

Floral liqueurs are made from flowers that are steeped in a base spirit and typically with sugar added

Whiskey Flavored
Whiskey or Whiskey Flavoring are sometimes used in the productions of liqueurs.

Dessert Flavors
Coffee, Chocolate, Mint, Butterscotch and cream flavors are used to produce very dessert-like liqueurs