The iconic Czech herbal liqueur just became widely available in the U.S. this spring.
Have you tried Becherovka? Spicy, aromatic, and bittersweet, this iconic Czech liqueur makes a surprisingly flavorful addition to summer cocktails.
Up until this year, Becherovka (pronounced beck-ur-OHV-kuh) was a rare sight in U.S. bars and liquor stores. But thanks to its recent acquisition by liquor giant Pernod Ricard, it's now popping up on shelves nationwide.
And although it's relatively new to this part of the world, the liqueur comes with a 200-year-old pedigree. Its secret recipe, a blend of over 20 botanicals, was first formulated by a Czech apothecary and a British-born doctor way back in 1807 in a quest to create a healthful "elixir of life."
As is the case with most herbal liqueurs, Becherovka's not for all tastes. But if you like your drinks bittersweet, complex, and a little spicy, you'll want to give this cinnamon, clove, and ginger-accented liqueur a try. Weighing in at 38 percent alcohol by volume, it's traditionally sipped neat straight from the fridge or freezer and makes a bracing accompaniment to hot coffee or cold beer.
Or, if you want to experience the same flavor in a more subtle way, try it in a cocktail. I recently test-drove two tall, cool, summery recipes: the Beton and the Czech Mule.
A simple combo of Becherovka, tonic water, and lemon, the Beton was created for Expo '67 in Montreal as a refreshment to be served in the Czech Pavilion. Meaning "concrete" in Czech, the name is a playful joining of the beginning few letters of BEcherovka and TONic.
I first tried a Beton made with two parts Becherovka and four parts tonic, as per one recipe, but found it all a little too herb-forward, so I lightened things up a bit, dialing the liqueur back to one part, and adding an extra squeeze of lemon. This transformed it into something lighter, brighter and more citrusy, with the herbal notes hovering in the background, lending a hint of mystery.
makes one drink
1-2 ounces Becherovka (I dialed it back to 1 ounce) around 4 ounces of tonic water 1 fresh lemon wedge (or more, to taste)
Pour the liqueur and tonic water into an ice-filled highball glass. Stir gently. Squeeze the juice from the lemon wedge over the top of the drink and drop it into the glass.
I also gave a newer recipe, the Czech Mule (an herbal play on the vodka-based Moscow Mule), a whirl. Here the spicier notes in the liqueur blend well with the zippy heat of the ginger beer. The lime adds a little freshness and tang. Again, though, I found moderation in flavor to be key: I used half the amount of Becherovka called for in the recipe I was working from, cutting things back to one ounce from two.
makes one drink
1-2 ounces Becherovka (I dialed it back to 1 ounce) around 4 ounces of ginger beer 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled highball glass and stir gently. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Have you tried Becherovka?
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturers did give us product for testing and review purposes.
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.