I find trends in liquor to be both fascinating and puzzling. Lately, I'm left wondering how the hell marketing executives come up with ridiculous flavors of vodka. Nothing quite says "I'm using a fake ID" than trying to order a drink made with vodka that tastes like Froot Loops cereal.
But through all of the ridiculous things that drinkers find fashionable, there are certain bottles out there that have a certain timeless appeal. For whatever reason, many of these bottles end up collecting dust while everyone swigs the Next Big Thing.
One of these for me is Licor 43. I first learned about it back in college when a bartender at a very good Mexican restaurant (Cafe Poca Cosa down in Tucson, if you must know) told me it was her secret to great margaritas. It faded from my memory over the years, only for me to fall in love with it all over again when the boss at work picked up a few bottles.
What is Licor 43? It's a Spanish liqueur that primarily tastes of orange and vanilla. There are other herbs and spices to give it a sophisticated flavor that's light years away from tasting like a liquid Creamsicle. To give the spirit a little extra flair, the number is given in Spanish; one asks for Cuarenta y Tres, not a Forty-Three.
Licor 43 has a bit of a reputation as being hard to mix, but I think that this is unwarranted. It's just more complex than your average liqueur. I enjoy deploying it as a substitute for triple sec or Grand Marnier. Much like adding a couple of dashes of bitters to a drink, Licor 43 adds some pleasantly surprising depth to a cocktail. It doesn't always work, but I've been pleasantly surprised more often than not.
I had a good discovery behind the bar recently. One of my guests asked me if I could make them a Last Word. I apologetically replied that since we didn't have maraschino liqueur, a Last Word was out of the question; however, I'd see what I could whip up that could scratch a Last Word itch.
The bar at work is pretty small, so my choices were limited. I figured that Cointreau is a pretty versatile spirit, so I did a straight substitution for the maraschino. It worked pretty darn well.
Then the bottle of Licor 43 materialized behind the bar. When one of my guests who loved my new creation came in, I asked if I could play with the drink a little. I tried it with Licor 43 instead of Cointreau, and was quite intrigued by how well it played with the green Chartreuse.
So, if you'll pardon me, I'm showing off a creation of mine this week. It's partly because there's pretty much nothing in the way of established cocktails that use Licor 43, but mostly because I think it's delicious and want to share it.
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Rhymes with Orange You can substitute other orange liqueurs such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, if you must.
3/4 ounce lime juice 3/4 ounce London Dry gin 3/4 ounce Licor 43 3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
Shake well with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.