Monday, September 13, 2010

New liqueurs for tea cocktails from Koval

This weekend we toured Chicago's new Koval Distillery, a craft still on the North Side. They make organic (and kosher!) spirits from a variety of grains, including wheat and oats but also spelt and millet. They make five different white whiskeys — clear, not aged, basically legal moonshine — from the different grains. Most of them are sharp and subtly flavorful, but in our tasting the Raksi Millet whiskey was the stand-out, the only one with any real smoothness and nutty flavor.

My reason for going, though, was to investigate the liqueurs. Koval makes five: rose hip, chrysanthemum honey, jasmine, ginger and coffee. These are unusual liqueur flavors and, as you might imagine, they are ideal for tea cocktails. We tasted the first three of those. Two were quite good — the rose hip utterly surprising, sweet and jammy and clean, and the jasmine really enchanting, with just the right floral notes. The chrysanthemum honey was unfortunately cloying, all honey and no blossoms. Pour the jasmine over ice with some Zen green tea liqueur and you've got one little piece of heaven, the perfect aperetif on either side of an Asian meal. The Koval site also has a recipe for Tea Koval, a simple cocktail of Earl Grey with the rose hip liqueur.

Koval distributes to Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, and Tennessee, plus these national online sellers.

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