A tangy blend of Perique, Hennessy, Havana Club and vanilla syrup.
It’s a freezing cold weekday night and I find myself in a place called Barts – a discreet, prohibition-style cocktail bar in the heart of Chelsea, brimming with stuffed animals, quirky antiques and young professionals – many of them drinking cocktails made with tobacco liqueur.
Tobacco as an ingredient in drinks isn’t completely new, but it is rare. Back in 2003, a group of Floridian cocktail makers began making tobacco-spiked cocktails in an attempt to defy the smoking ban. One such drink was the ‘Nicotini’ made using vodka infused with tobacco leaves – its purpose being to recreate the effects of a cigarette.
At the same time in New York, cocktail makers were trying to recreate the taste of cigarettes with drinks like the ‘Smokeless Manhattan’ made of port, Laphroaig whisky and orange bitters, which apparently tasted like a Marlboro Red.
In 2010 a hotel bartender called Jonathan Condesa in Mexico City invented a cocktail called the D.F.Irreverente, made by mixing rum, pineapple juice and the contents of a cigarette together and then straining it into a glass. But until now, there hasn’t been a liqueur actually distilled using tobacco.
The cocktails I’ve come to try tonight are made using Perique Tobacco Liqueur produced by scientist come craft-distiller, Ted Breaux, who makes the spirit in France using distilled Louisiana Perique – one of the rarest and strongest tobaccos in the world.
“It’s made in roughly the same way as gin is,” says Ted. “But instead of using juniper berries we use tobacco. The concept was to take an immensely powerful substance and then to reduce it through distillation into something very subtle but full of flavour.”
A flavour that Ted describes as: “sitting in an old leather armchair, in a cosy library where your favourite grandfather has smoked his pipe a few hours before.” It’s a longwinded description, but Ted’s liqueur seems to have struck a chord with consumers. Perique has recently appeared on the menus of some of London’s most exclusive cocktail bars, including Barts, Paramount and Ten Manchester Street.
Source: The Guardian Read more
*Holy Smokes image, not that referred to in the article – Recipe here