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.

Cocktails and Canapés – Ron Zacapa Rum Drinks at The Pembury

Many readers will be familiar with food & wine pairings, even if it’s nothing beyond James Bond’s “Red wine with fish, that should have told me something!”. The more adventurous of you may have been lucky enough to go to a sherry & tapas or whisky & chocolate event, but what about matching cocktails with food?
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I was first introduced to the concept in October, when Mrs. B & I were invited to a Ketel One Dinner at Pollen Street Social. Such was our enjoyment at this last event that we were delighted to attend a similar one based around Ron Zacapa Rum at Roux at the Pembury at Parliament Square.
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This is named after Michel Roux Jr’s birthplace; Pembury, Kent. The bar comfortably seats 40 people and is designed for guests to relax for pre-dinner or after dinner drinks. In addition to a variety of bespoke cocktails a variety of light food dishes too.
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In the true spirit of teamwork and, to get more than one person’s view, we decided that each of us would take one of the courses. Although they were billed as canapés, each of the courses was more like a mini meal than the usual fayre of vol-au-vents and sausage rolls.
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Pre-dinner Cocktail
Zacapa Cerveza (Ron Zacapa, lime, beer and honey syrup, with a malt and nutmeg foam)
The cocktail waiting for us upon our arrival was an intriguing combination of the sweetness of the rum and malt. The foam on the top was substantial and both highlighted the beer in the syrup and added a strong nose of nutmeg. I was just finishing off this cocktail when I received a phone call from DTS, who was, at that very moment, strolling towards Westminster station, but unaware of the bar’s location. My directions aren’t always the best, but – after unsuccessfully trying to isolate landmarks of particular note to both of us – we came to agreement on the best way of describing the location of Roux at the Pembury: just off of the only corner of Parliament Square that didn’t contain either the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Abbey. Fortunately, DTS arrived just in time to enjoy a Zacapa Cerveza of his own before the canapés were unveiled.
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Course One
Canapé: Virgin Honey & Beetroot Cured Loch Duart S_____ Salmon
Cocktail: Mayan Martini (Ron Zacapa, Gewürztraiminer Wine & Orange Bitters)

This was just one of the cocktails that used Virgin Honey, which is the juice first pressing of the sugar cane. Many Rums use Molasses as the base of their production but Ron Zacapa uses Virgin Sugar Cane Honey.

The canapé contained a great mix of textures with the soft salmon and the crunchy beetroot. The smoky, slightly salty salmon went well with the acidic twang of the beetroot. As for the cocktail, I thought it was rather like a Manhattan and a very enjoyable way to enjoy the rum without diluting it with a soft drink or fruit juice.

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Course Two
Canapé: XO Braised shin of beef with root vegetables roasted with virgin honey
Cocktail: Quetzaltenango Fizz (Ron Zacapa, lemon juice, sugar and Shiraz, topped with soda)

I thought this was an interesting combination. In my opinion, the longer cocktail tasted a little like a bitter fruit cup that was cleansing and more subtle than the other drinks of the evening. A good job, too, because the beef was absolutely delicious: perfectly tender, falling apart at the touch of a fork, and rich, with a sweetness that neatly bridged the rum and the wine. Everybody’s bowls were quickly scraped clean, the beef being washed down with the fizz.

Course Three
Canapé: Rum & Raisin Tiramisu
Cocktail: Altoculis Daiquiri (Ron Zacapa, Yuzo Juice, PX & Honey)

I once heard that your favourite flavour of ice-cream says a lot about your personality. My favourite flavour happens to be Rum & Raisin, so combining this with one of my favourite desserts, Tiramisu, was definitely leading to a win-win situation.

This was accompanied by a twist on the classic rum Daiquiri, where sugar syrup was substituted with Pedro Ximenez sherry and honey. In addition, lime juice was added, which was needed to add some extra zest to combat the sweetness of some of the other ingredients.

The pudding was superb; just what I expected from containing my two favourite desserts, with rich coffee notes from the Tiramisu aspect alongside the cream of rum and raisin ice cream. I hope I get a chance to have something like this again.

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Course Four
Canapé: Coffee, vanilla and Solera 23 Macaroon
Cocktail: Land of the Trees (Ron Zacapa, Grand Marnier, Noilly Prat and Kaffir Lime Leaves)

Next, we were presented with cute little macaroons that easily melted in your mouth, without being overly sweet. The cocktail accompaniment combined a number of strong flavours very well, resulting in a very fresh and fruity, but nonetheless powerful, drink.

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Course Five
Canapé: Cheese and Pickles
Cocktail: Ron Zacapa on The Rocks

Finally the evening was finished of with a generous glass of Ron Zacapa on the rocks and cheese and pickled onions served on cocktails sticks. Not being a big fan of onions, I was delighted when another tray, this time of cheese and pineapple, was passed round. This was a very unusual combination of Traditional British Wedding Buffet fayre and the sophistication of sipping a special rum. As you would expect, the ingredients were of good quality and the strength of the cheese and freshness of the pineapple helped me to enjoy the rum even more.

Tasting notes on Ron Zacapa Solera 23:
Nose: Honey, vanilla as well as some succulent fruit notes, a dark sugar too
Taste: Initially a very smooth texture with a little warmth gradual building. Some sweetness but overall quite a silky spirit, balanced with a well-rounded slightly oaky finish.

In Conclusion

Just like the Ketel One meal, I really enjoyed this event. I also thought that the slightly more informal setting meant that it was easier to talk to a greater variety of people; that said, a good portion of our evening was spent in the fine company of Pete & Pauline of The Floating Rum Shack / Gin Palace, but, even so, we met a lot of new people.

I also really like the idea of pairing food with cocktails and spirits and I think it can be done with great effect. With the rise in gastronomic practices behind the bar, I think this will be a growing trend, with many more similar events appearing, as well as an increase in single cocktail food pairings.

To me, that sounds superb.

Further Details

Roux At The Pembury – Parliament Square, London, SW1P 3AD – Website

Ron Zacapa Centenario Rum Solera 23 – £48.95 for 70cl at The Whisky Exchange

Ron Zacapa Centenario XO Rum (1876-1976) – £155 for 70cl at The Whisky Exchange

Special thanks to Michel Roux Jr., Abdulai Kpekawa as well as Sarah, Kate, Emily and their colleagues at Grayling.