Halloween Cocktails with Niederegger Marzipan

A few weeks ago, I received an interesting e-mail from Niederegger Marzipan, advertising a game for Halloween (see below). I thought I’d take the opportunity to match some of the chocolate-covered marzipan from their Klassiker Range, which mixes liquors and marzipan, with some cocktails. I wanted to create a cocktail to complement each of the four flavours, whilst also giving the cocktails a somewhat autumnal twist; and no, there will be no Amaretto – that is just too easy.

Niederegger confectioners have been making tasty treats since 1806 in the German city of Lübeck. Today, they make a wide range of fine treats, including a host of different marzipans and nougats.

The Cocktails

#1) Normandy ‘75 with Calvados, accompanied by Calvados & Apple Marzipan
[1 sugar lump, 3–4 drops of orange bitters, 20ml of calvados, Champagne – Serve in a Champagne Flute]
Quite dry, given the Calvados and Champagne, with the red vermouth adding some herbal notes and, along with the sugar cube, some sweetness for balance. The fresh, fruity and sweet apple of the chocolate complements the dryer cocktail. Additionally, the marzipan’s smooth texture contrasts pleasantly with the intense bubbles of the Champagne.

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#2) Port & Starboard with Vodka and Port, accompanied by Vodka & Fig Marzipan.
[20ml Vodka, 20ml Port, 10ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup (1tsp sugar) –  SHAKE]
A relatively tart drink with some deep, fruity, jammy notes from the port. If it’s a bit too tart, try adding a little sugar and stir. The marzipan has a lot more texture than the previous one, being almost crunchy, and is rich and sweet, going well with the tart dryness of the cocktail, which reminds me almost of a rich, dry sherry. Whilst these two might be too bitter/sweet on their own, together, they harmonise.

#3) Smoky Rob Roy, with Bowmore Mariner Scotch Whisky, accompanied by Mirabelle Brandy Marzipan.
[30ml Bowmore Mariner (or other Scotch), 20ml Red Vermouth – SHAKE]
The marzipan is light and more coconutty in texture, with a hint of orange coming through, too. In contrast, the cocktail is stronger in flavour, being very smoky and deliciously refreshing. The orange twist ensures that this pairing go together remarkably well. Although you wouldn’t necessarily think that smoky whisky would go well with marzipan, it really does – this is excellent and easily Mrs. B’s favourite.

#4) Rum Alexander with Spiced Rum, accompanied by Rum & Croquant Marzipan
[20ml Rum, 20ml Semi-skimmed Milk, 20ml Creme de Cacao – SHAKE]
This marzipan tastes richer and weightier than the previous ones, with its sweetness and rum notes coming through strongly. As such, the lighter cocktail is a very good accompaniment, tasting something akin to an adult’s version of chocolate milk. Coincidentally, the use of milk is much preferable to cream in this pairing, as the latter would create a far too heavy, sickly cocktail. As it is, the cocktail carries a lovely hint of rum that continues well into the finish, accompanied by lots of almond.

In Conclusion
This box of marzipan covers a whole range of interesting flavours, meaning that everyone – who likes marzipan! – should find a favourite in here; fortunately for us, we were evenly split, with Mrs. B. preferring the Vodka & Fig Chocolate and Smoky Rob Roy, and my favourites being the Apple & Calvados Chocolate and the Normandy ‘75.

In addition to being delicious on their own, I was impressed at how well they went with cocktails, each of which highlighted the flavours and textures of the sweets and often meant that the flavours lasted for longer. The sweetness of the marzipan also meant that we could experiment with stronger flavours (e.g. bitter or tart) that, when sampled on their own, were less palatable.

All in all, this was a tasty and entertaining experiment and I look forward to enjoying the rest of our box of marzipan in the game below…

The Halloween Game

Niederegger Roulette

This is:

“based on the lethal game of Russian roulette but with the additional fun elements of Harry Potter’s Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans but more sophisticated.”

You will need:

  • An assortment of different flavoured Niederegger marzipan treats that are either all the same style; e.g. mini loaves, sticks, or that have been cut into pieces that all look and feel similar;
  • A blindfold; and
  • Some willing participants.

How To Play

  1. Teams are formed and, each round, one player from each team dons the blindfold and chooses, at random, a piece of Niederegger.
  1. They must then write down what flavour they think they tasted on the team’s cards.
  1. This process is repeated through all the flavours that are available, ensuring that each team member has a go.

“With the options to choose between the innumerable concoction of different fruity flavours, orange, pineapple, strawberry, lemon; dark, milk and white chocolate toppings; more savoury fillings include pistachio and walnut filled; espresso, ginger, cream praline nougat as well as the liquor flavoured pieces such as Apple & Calvados, Mirabelle Brandy, Rum & Croquant, Vodka & Fig. Once everyone has been through all of the rounds then the host can reveal which sweets were which.”

“Try something fun and delicious this Halloween with Niederegger Roulette.”

A selection Niederegger Marzipan is available from Amazon, John Lewis, and Lakeland as well as many other shops.

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The East India Cocktail

The East India Cocktail

And its various variations


It was the name that first attracted me to The East India Cocktail; indeed, it seems that it is the unusual name that has kept this cocktail alive for so many years.
The drink has been around since the 19th Century and is mentioned by Harry Johnson in 1882 as being a favourite of the English living in various parts of East Africa. It is likely that the East India (also known as the Bengal) was created by an American bartender in one of the many American bars in one of the many grand hotels of the area.

From left to right: Recipe #1,#2, #3 and the Sloppy Joe.

 

But it is the many variations of this cocktail created over the years that truly holds my interest. In the following paragraphs, I shall look at four of these recipes in turn.

Recipe #1: Harry Johnson’s 1882 New and Improved Bartenders Manual – Stirred
1 tsp Red Curacao – (Hard to find, so I used clear)
1 tsp Pineapple Syrup
2 or 3 dashes of Boker’s Bitters (Again, hard to find, so I used Angostura)
2 dashes Maraschino
1 Wineglass of Brandy
STIR

This drink has a mellow smoothness with a sweetness that matches the rest of the drink and isn’t over-powering. All of the ingredients in the drink can be tasted, even the Maraschino. In comparison to the other variations, the golden clarity of this, because it isn’t shaken, reminds me more of the orient.

Recipe #2: Mr. Boston’s Mixed Drinks (1940) – Shaken
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 tsp Pineapple Juice
1/2 tsp Curacao
1 tsp Jamaican Rum
1 dash Bitters

Notable differences are the transition to pineapple juice and the addition of Jamaican Rum. This drink was the least satisfying of the four, although shaking makes this drink very cold. This version is not as smooth as the first and is less sweet; but, really, it just lacks flavour.

Recipe #3: Vintage Cocktails & Spirits (2004) – Shaken
3 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Raspberry syrup
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
1 tsp Curacao
1 tsp Maraschino

A rather sweet and complex concoction, there really is a lot more going on in this recipe; it substitutes pineapple syrup for raspberry syrup, which changes the drink somewhat. It is more drinkable than the others and the raspberry and maraschino complement each other nicely. Despite all of this, I can’t help but have a nagging feeling whilst drinking it that I’m not being true to the original.

Recipe #4: Sloppy Joe from The Art of Mixing Drinks (1948) – Shaken
1 oz Port
1oz Cognac
2 oz Pineapple
1 dash of Grenadine & Curacao

I would be a terrible liar if I said that I was looking forward to this. Although not, in truth, an East India Cocktail, it shares some characteristics with it. Also, due to the high ratio of pineapple juice, David Embury suggests this may not actually be a cocktail, but I shall not wade into semantics.

Shaking the pineapple juice gives the drink an incredibly foamy head; surprisingly, the port and the pineapple work rather well together (never thought I’d say that!), but the brandy is lost. This is a very smooth drink and very, very different, but, with its creamy finish, is actually quite tasty. I wouldn’t advise using your best cognac, though.

The Future

There are some avenues of the East India Cocktail that I have not explored as of yet: the likes of the East India #2 and the West India Cocktail will have to wait for another day. In addition, with no olives to hand, I wasn’t able to try one of those as an alternative garnish in Johnson recipe; all of this will require further investigation, so watch this space…

If you enjoyed this article perhaps you might like Part Two.