No, no, no... These roses are pink! Forget the traditional chocolate seduction tactics (Laura’s already covered those), and ditch all those crimson heart shaped knick knacks that no one really has any idea what to do with. Go bright this year and, following last week’s Pinkster Gin, pick up a bottle that’s dazzling pink; Lanique Rose Liqueur Spirit. It’s like buying your loved one a bunch of roses but better; you’ll be enjoying its floral finery long after those Valentine’s Day flowers have been laid to rest in the bin.
Enough about dying plants, we want to be talking looooove. That said, I do think that Lanique might be one of those love/hate Marmite type drinks; some people are almost addicted to the Turkish Delight taste of rose, whereas others consider it to be too much like washing your mouth out with soap. Sure, an overpowering amount of rose will have an air of your nan’s perfume about it – not particularly romantic, eh – but don’t fret, Lanique hasn’t been too heavy handed on the flavour front.
And don't be put off by its luminous colour either. Snobbery would probably make you think that it's cheap booze akin to that artificial Apple Sourz type stuff, but it's actually well balanced and can create some lovely complex drinks.
To give you a bit of history, Lanique is created following a secret recipe that uses the Attar of Rose from the East. Pound for pound, it is worth more than gold - go ahead, brag about that. Thousands of rose petals are steam-distilled to create a pure rose essential oil, which then goes into the grain spirit.
It was first made around 200 years ago, across the Kingdom of Prussia, the Two Sicilies and the Austrian Empire, and was primarily for the wealthy and elite. The drink had a unique natural flavour and colour thanks to its exotic ingredients, and remained a firm favourite at grand events all the way through to the roaring 1920s.
It disappeared with the Second World War and the rise of Communism, so that'll be why we've not really heard about it before. When Communism fell and Eastern Europe reopened, the fascinating history of this exclusive drink unravelled, and after years of work by dedicated artisans, the long lost recipe was reborn and Lanique was re-launched…
With a swanky redesign for both the brand and the bottle, thankfully it's no longer just for the upper classes! You can buy Lanique (70cl) from Master of Malt for £24.95.
So what makes it different to the traditional rose liqueurs I hear you ask? Well, it's actually deemed a 'Liqueur Spirit', which gives it an extra punch in terms of ABV. Standard liqueurs tend to be around the 15-20% mark, but Lanique is 39% and, although it's still syrupy sweet, this higher alcohol strength makes it peppery on your tongue. So, instead of just being added as a dash of flavour, Lanique can be used as a base spirit, letting you layer other flavours on top; an invitation to experiment if you ask me.
There are 7 recommended serves on the website, each pretty in pink, so man up guys. The signature is Lanique & Lime – 50ml Lanique, 20ml lime juice, and plenty of crushed ice – the fresh lime complements the rosy taste and aroma, and the lime’s bitterness counteracts the sweet tones. For a more refreshing drink you can lengthen Lanique with lemonade, soda, bitter lemon or tonic; splash some in a flute and top with champers for a celebration, or make a Laniquetini; a twist on the Martini with 1 part gin to 2 parts Lanique.
There are also a number of cocktail recipes to try, including the Mint Fizz with added Cointreau, champagne and muddled mint, and the Mexican Rose which mixes Lanique with tequila, cloudy apple juice, lime and sage. However, seeing as the generous folks at Love Drinks sent me a bottle to sample, I thought that I should concoct a couple myself, and what better excuse to play with pink drinks than Valentine’s Day!
Ok, this is a ‘Sour’ cocktail, but seeing as we’re in romantic territory I couldn’t really include the word sour. It mixes Lanique with Chase Rhubarb Vodka, lemon and egg whites; the lemon balances out both sweet spirits and the foamy egg whites give the drink a luxurious creamy texture.
- 35ml Chase Rhubarb Vodka
- 25ml Lanique
- 25ml Lemon Juice (approx ½ lemon)
- 1 Egg White
Next, add the spirits and fill the shaker with ice. Shake again, then strain into a chilled coupe and serve.
Just a Rose & Card(amom) (serves 1)
Classic last minute Valentine’s buying most likely ends in picking up a single red rose and a cheesy card from the supermarket; this cocktail is much more impressive. Rose and cardamom are popular pairings in Middle Eastern cuisine, so with that in mind, I made this gin based drink. I used Opihr, which is heavily cardamom scented, but if you don’t have that, just bash a cardamom pod a couple of times with a pestle and mortar and pop it in your cocktail shaker with whatever gin you plan to use, and follow the recipe as below.
- 35ml Opihr Gin
- 25ml Lanique
- 15ml Lemon Juice
- 25ml Pink Grapefruit Juice
- ½ tsp Sugar Syrup