Today’s focus, for the second halloween blog, is black drinks.
When researching spooky drinks, I came across some beautiful layered drinks both shots and martinis featuring black vodka. The idea of layering a black beverage appealed to me, and I had just the ingredients in my kitchen! So in honour of me mum, who is a huge licorice fan, I created a black licorice flavoured syrup and started my experiments on what could be done with this new ingredient.
Black Licorice Syrup
The goal here is to make a concentrated syrup that will work even when diluted by half without loosing it’s flavour in the recipe. With all syrups, the best test is to mix 1:1 with water. If the resulting taste is perfect than the original syrup will work well in drink mixes.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 oz aniseed (or 1 tbsp aniseed extract)
- Black food colouring (I used Duff Goldman brand)
Blend aniseed (or extract) with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes then remove from heat if using seeds and allow to steep 30 minutes. Strain and add sugar. Cook until sugar dissolves completely, then add food colouring drop by drop until the desired darkness is reached (about 10-15 drops). Because this food colouring looks purple when not strong enough, be sure to check syrup for darkness – you want BLACK. Taste syrup, it should be sweet and licorice flavoured. If still bitter add more sugar, if too weak and you have aniseed extract on hand ad a few drops until desired concentration is reached.
Ok that’s the foundation. Now for the fun!
Tiger Ice Cream Shooters
First up, something fun to play with densities. Since Black Licorice syrup is definitely NOT black vodka, one cannot expect it to float on just about everything.
Black vodka is coloured with black Catechu and has no flavour other than that of the vodka – or so they say. Black vodka is also 80 proof, so wowee zowee it’s definitely NOT virgin! But does float nicely.
Sambuca, is another anise (or licorice) flavoured adult only beverage – and while not black is only 42% alcohol and in the liqueur category. Good! Nice to know, and somewhat relevant if searching for recipe ideas online.
Since my syrup is denser than any alcoholic original, I can’t expect it to float and have to find other ingredients that will float on it instead. Turns out that orange juice, both concentrated and in it’s normal diluted version both float nicely on syrups with a 1:1 sugar to water concentration. OK! Here goes the testing.
My first kick at the can was to layer concentrated OJ over the syrup and see how that faired. Too strong, too sweet. My hubby says also too orange tasting. Next try: three layers, same two on the bottom, but an added layer of cream (since it’s supposed to be like ice-cream eh!).Still not perfect. The cream hits the pallet too fast and is gone before the liquorice gets to your tongue.
So I tried mixing the cream and orange first then layering it on top. Better. Closer. Now to perfect it. According to my daughter, Tiger ice-cream is more orange than licorice. So, 1/3 licorice to 2/3 orange should do it. What was the verdict. Pretty Good!
- 1/2 oz black licorice syrup
- 1/2 oz orange juice concentrate
- 1/2 oz whipping cream
Pour syrup into bottom of shot glass. Mix juice and cream in cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake with no ice). Layer onto the syrup in the shot and serve.
I thought to drop a 2 oz ball of vanilla ice-cream into the mix, increasing the glass size to compensate. While it looks pretty, the drink becomes impossible to drink in a gulp and, since this is a layered drink, that is required to blend the flavours of the two layers. So, ice cream is not an option, regardless of cool (pun intended) factor of the ice-cream!
Kid-o-metre 3/5 one of two kids likes this in my family
Taste: 3/5 Half of us like licorice, the other half not so much.
Simplicity: 4/5 One syrup, and the easiest thing to layer ever!
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Having aniseed in town is great, having aniseed extract in my cupboard was even better, made it easier. Black food colouring though needs to be picked up out of town.
This next shooter is another attempt to layer – but I wanted to try a different blend of flavours than the common orange and licorice. So I checked out what pairs with licorice or anise and came up with the idea of chocolate. Well, I happened to have some white chocolate cream left, so why not! The result is a layer of white chocolaty goodness floating like a ghost over the black drink. Add some whipped cream and some chocolate ships for eyes…Yup, spooky!
- 1 oz Black Licorice Syrup
- 1/2 White Chocolate Cream
- whipping cream – whipped
- 2 chocolate chips
Pour syrup into bottom of shot glass, carefully layer the chocolate cream over the syrup and let settle for a minute. Top generously with whipped cream, add two chocolate chips and serve.
They now sell chocolate covered licorice, so this combo wasn’t much of a stretch. Does it work in a shooter? Yup. Sweet and creamy dessert type shooter. However don’t tryp to do this with no hands as some whipped cream topped shooters dictate. You’ll choke on the chocolate chips, and the chocolate cream is too thick to tip upside down, but mostly you’ll choke. Trust me. I tried it.
Kid-o-metre 3/5 not a hit – even with chocolate
Taste: 3/5 an aquired taste.
Simplicity: 3/5 two recipes, not hard though. Minimal ingredients required.
Ingredient finding: 3/5
Black Lagoon Mocktail
This next recipe is an adaptation of Matha Stewarts Black Lagoon Cocktail. She had the great idea of making licorice flavoured ice cubes and then floating them in a blend of rosemary lemon vodka and seltzer. I had a similar syrup that I chose to use – stronger citrus flavour and brilliant in the drink. If I made the drink with club soda – hold the vodka – and followed the rest of the recipe I should in theory be able to create an all ages version.
- 2 oz rosemary citrus syrup (recipe below)
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 4 oz club soda
- Licorice Ice Cubes
- Black liquorice for garnish (didn’t have this at the time for the pic!)
Combine syrup, juice and club soda in a 8 oz old fashioned glass filled with Black Licorice Ice Cubes. Stir to blend flavours. Cut the ends off a black licorice stick to make a staw and serve immediately.
According to the original recipe as the drink melts the colour goes from clear to black. I have not had a chance to find this out yet, primarily because I failed to read the original directions – oops! I make the ice cubes out of the licorice syrup, strong sugar syrup it turns out, and the ice cubes turned into super sweet licorice toffee! So not to be undone, I scooped it out of the ice cube tray, plopped it in the bottom of the drink and continued as directed. The syrup added a super sweet flavour to the drink, slowly dissolving in the soda. The result was pretty terrific.
Check out the real way to make licorice ice cubes here if you want the original look.
You’ll also note that there is no licorice straw in my drinks. Seems there is no licorice in town this week… sigh.
Kid-o-metre 3/5 not a hit – with kids
Taste: 5/5 liquorice and rosemary, who knew!
Simplicity: 3/5 two recipes, not hard though (Colette, follow the directions gal!).
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Rosemary and food colouring from out of town
Rosemary Citrus Syrups
This syrup comes from a recipe for Rosemary Citrus Spritzer – all virgin from The Kitchn. I am continually finding great uses for this syrup!
2 lemons – zest and juice
2 oranges – zest and juice
4 (4 inch) sprigs rosemary
3/4 cup sugar
Boil all ingredients one minute, remove and cool 10 minutes to steep. Strain and store in airtight container until use. Lasts about 1 month.
Spicy Night Cocktail
I love licorice flavour and was looking for flavours that complement the flavour of aniseed other than orange. Cinnamon and cloves came up and I just had to try it out.
This drink is made with syrups and soda water, to keep the beverage as clear as possible, the licorice and cinnamon syrup do infuse upward making the drink muddy, grey and mysterious.
- 1/2 oz cinnamon heavy syrup
- 1/2 oz black licorice syrup
- 4 oz orange simple syrup
- 2 oz sour mix
- 4 oz soda water
Pour cinnamon and licorice syrup into bottom of flute glass. Mix orange simple syrup, sour mix and soda water in cocktail shaker with a bit of ice to chill it and stir well. Strain, and pour carefully, layering if possible, over the darker syrup base. Top with some clear soda water to keep the top as light as possible. Serve.
I wish this was more distinctive in look from the Black Lagoon, when the drinks are both blending light into dark. Next time I make this I will consider ice as a barrier from the two elements mixing. I made this as an afterthought, feeling like I needed one more offering for this blog. I have not tested it on my family yet and me mom is not here to tell me the drink is terrific. (I stand alone in my household, with no licorice loving companions, what ever will I do?)
If you have been enjoying this, I would love to hear from you! A shout out to those in the UK who have been following and in the USA – Hi Y’all! Did you know that in the UK Licorice is spelled Liquorice? Yup! Just a small fact you may —or may not— care about.