A bottle of Bénédictine D.O.M. proved to be a little more difficult to obtain than you’d think. I figured walk into any liquor store and you could score a bottle easily. Not the case here in New Orleans. You’ll certainly find Bénédictine in just about every liquor store, only you’ll be getting it in the form of B&B, Bénédictine and Brandy. After I was able to finally score a bottle from Vieux Carre Wine and Spirits, the tasting was on.
Bénédictine is, at least superficially, reminiscent of Chartreuse: It was initially created by French monks, uses a ton of herbs, and said monks ran into a heap of trouble along the way. But that is about where the similarities stop. Bénédictine blends a mere 27 herbs to Chartreuse’s 132, which I found noticeable in the complexity on a head to head tasting. The Benedictine monks had their monastery destroyed in the French Revolution and their property plundered, while the Carthusian monks got expelled and their property seized.
Although not quite as complex as Chartreuse, Bénédictine is still a complex liqueur with a strong herbal smell and flavor. It is also rather viscous. This thickness and the pronounced flavor make Bénédictine a likely companion to mix with “stronger” liquors, Scotch, Brandy, etc. Bénédictine is a popular ingredient in many a classic cocktail, such as the Vieux Carre, the original Singapore Sling, Bobby Burns, etc.
I’ve found that a Bénédictine on the rocks isn’t bad, but it certainly takes a little getting used to. Of course, I’d recommend sticking to mixing this spirit.
Since the traditional Bénédictine cocktail recipes are pretty easy to find, here’s one I’ve created which I call Last Rites.
Simply add equal parts Luxardo, Gin, Bénédictine and lime juice (sounds pretty familiar? It is a Last Word subbing the Chartreuse with the Bénédictine)
Normally, I’d have made this with fresh lime juice, but Cupcake needed the limes we had on hand for dinner. Which means it was time to improvise: enter a bottle of Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice. While a nice fix in a pinch, I find that fresh lime juice makes this a better drink.
Nellie and Joe’s is a great back up system to always have on hand. It will stay fresh in the fridge for about a month and provides you some great versatility. No time to juice limes or simply no limes at all? Break out the bottle, but when you can go with the fresh squeezed stuff. When making drinks for people, I find it is important to be flexible and always have a backup plan!
It certainly gives you a different flavor profile than a Last Word would and, in my opinion, isn’t as nicely balanced (due to Bénédictine’s strong presence). But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a tasty drink.