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Our week of Bénédictine cocktails

Palais Benedictine Fecamp Normandy match (1)
Gorgeous Palais Bénédictine in Fecamp, Normandy. The statue is the founder Alexandre-Prosper-Hubert Le Grand. We have a lot to thank him for. More about Bénédictine at the bottom of this post!

Matching this wonderful old building was a pleasure and has continued to be so in the form of glowing Green Carnations, fresh Pamplemousses, fancy Full House, the Classic Creole, Le Grimoire, a couple of Colleen Bawns, murky Monk Sours, classic B&B and some Singapore Slings..

Determined not to let this herbaceous refreshment sink to the back of the drinks cupboard, after our visit we have been carrying out some serious research.

Perfect Pamplemousse

We started simply with a light and fresh Pamplemousse. These amounts are enough for two small glasses over ice, but be prepared to make more.

2 parts Bénédictine, 6 parts pink grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed if poss) but adjust to suit.  Shaken them up together and pour over crushed ice in a tall glass.  Delicious, refreshing and very pretty to look at.  Happiness factor 😀  😀  😀 a great way to unwind at the end of the week.

Pamplemousse
Perfect Pamplemousse!

 

The Green Carnation

After our success with the Pamplemousse we thought it a good idea to try some Green Carnations. There aren’t enough green drinks in this world but if the others are anything like the Green Carnation it’s because they are all being used as rocket fuel.  Approach your glowing green glass with caution.  After adding some ice Carnations began to slip down a little more easily and we were quite pleased with it. In fact we were fast become quite pleased with everything.

For two Green Carnations add to a cocktail shaker; ice, 4 ounces vodka, 1/2 ounce of Midori Melon Liqueur, a good splash of Bénédictine and the juice of half a fresh lime.  Shake it all up for 10-15 seconds then pour into a glass. Most recipes say strain out the ice but we say keep it. Happiness factor 😀 😀 or 😀 depending on who you ask.

No wonder the Bénédictine brew was originally a tonic for tired monks, it really is most invogor.. invegro.. inverguroting….

The Green Carnation
Insanely strong, the Green Carnation

Some time later… the Cornell Special for two

1oz gin, 1oz Bénédictine, 1oz/juice of a small lemon. Pop the lot in a cocktail shaker with some ice and shake hard for a few seconds.  The recipe says drain the results but again we say add some ice to the glass.

This tart little number divided us. Lovely and sharp I thought it great to sip and happily went back for more, but Ian was less than impressed and sploshed in some grapefruit juice.  Which apparently made it delicious. Happiness factor :D:D

For some reason we didn’t get around to taking a photo.  We then took a night off from cocktails.

Just one.  Next the Singapore Sling!

This exactly how we looked while enjoying our cocktails. Or felt anyway.
This exactly how we looked while enjoying our cocktails. We maybe not exactly…

The Superb Singapore Sling

A bit more advanced and requiring many odd bottles in the drinks cupboard (we used to have a drinks shelf but cocktails require a cupboard).

For two martini glasses (see pic) pop into a shaker 30 ml gin, 10ml Bénédictine, 10 ml cherry brandy, 10ml triple sec orange, 10ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 5 ml grenadine, 100 ml of freshly squeezed pineapple juice and 4 dashes Angostura bitters.

Add loads of ice, shake like crazy until the outside frosts up. Strain into your best cocktail glasses and enjoy.

Just lovely.  Our favourite Bénédictine cocktail so far.  The Singapore Sling is sweet without being sickly, fruity, smooth and just enough of a kick.  It also looks special enough for the fanciest party.  The recipe suggested a garnish of pineapple and cherries but it is beautiful enough on its own.  Warning! One is just not enough and you will end up scooping every last bit of the soft pink foam left in the glass with you finger. Happiness factor 😀 😀 😀 😀

Superb - The Singapore Sling
Superb – The Singapore Sling

The B&B

Time for a Hemingway moment; the B&B.  Ernest mentions this alcoholic bomb in his 1919 short story ‘the mercenaries’, a tale about shady characters in a Chicago bar. Mix 60% Cognac, 40% Bénédictine (or just slosh in an ounce of each) and you will soon be telling your own tall stories.  The Bénédictine adds wonderful layers of herbs and spices to even the cheapest brandy.  A nice winding down sort of a drink.  One for the grown-ups. Happiness factor 😀 😀 😀

What did we discover during Bénédictine week? This ingenious mix of 27 plants and spices adds a subtle extra layer of flavour that takes cocktails to another level.

We recommend you do try these at home.

But what is Bénédictine?

Long, long ago a homesick monk strolled across the pretty Fécamp cliffs dreaming of home.  Fresh sea air mingled with the soft scent of gently crushed herbs underfoot.  Some of the aromatic plants he recognised and some were completely new. The combination was intoxicating. Dom Bernardo was inspired.

Using skills learnt far away in Italy he set about creating an elixir, a tonic to perk up his fellow monks in their rather damp Benedictine Abbey.  It worked a treat and morale improved hugely.

Benedictine monk
Bénédictine monk

Years passed and during the French Revolution monasteries became distinctly unpopular.  The monks had to flee, leaving some of their treasured possession with trusted local families for safekeeping.

One of these families were Fécamp merchants, the Le Grand. They didn’t give a thought to the old box of papers from the monastery but in the 1860’s son Alexandre took a look.

In an old Grimoire he spotted a complex and intriguing recipe that used 27 herbs and spices to make a life enhancing liquid.  He gave it a go.  After many weeks of intensive testing Alexandre created something quite drinkable.  He named it Bénédictine.

Or so the story goes.  There is also the possibility Alexandre was a fine marketer as well as a dab hand with a beverage and made the whole thing up.  But we like the old story so are sticking with it.

Palais Bénédictine

The lovely building in our match is the second grand Palais Bénédictine distillery.  As well as spending his growing wealth on religious art, a fine collection of locks and philanthropy in 1888 Alexandre built a fabulous distillery/museum.  But someone didn’t like him and burned the whole thing down in 1892. Not one to be bullied out of town Alexandre proceeded to build a bigger and fancier Palais.

Tragically Alexandre Le Grand died before the second Palais Bénédictine was finished but he knew his family would complete the task.  They did and it was opened in 1900.

The Palais is a fascinating place to visit with lots of art and history as well as the old distillery to admire.  Bénédictine is of course on sale.

benedictine

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