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K&L Staff Recommendations
Fernet Branca (750ml) $23.99
Cointreau (750ml) $32.99
Wine Spectator: "Although many amari boast a secret formula comprising a multitude of ingredients-Fernet-Branca ($30) contains a total of 27, giving it a licorice, menthol and raisin character - certain flavors are well-trodden. Among them are anise, angelica, marjoram, cinnamon, cinchona, gentian, rosemary, saffron, fennel and cardamom, as well as mint and orange. (JB)" (2/2016) K&L Notes: Fernet Branca is an Italian amaro developed in 1845. The family's secret recipe still has never been disclosed, but what they can tell you is that it is a combination of 27 different herbs picked ... Read More »
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "Tawny and bright in the glass, this mellow, bittersweet beauty offers caramel and vanilla, braced by allspice and bitter orange. Although Nonino is best known for its grappas, this amaro, flavored with herbs from the mountains of Friuli, is worth seeking out. Consider it for dessert pairings or an edgy spin on a negroni. (KN)" (4/2014) K&L Notes: From Distillatori Nonino in Italy's Friuli. This amaro is a grape distillate infused with herbs and aged in barrique, the Quinessentia Amaro Nonino shows fragrant mountain herbs. It's delicious as an aperitivo served with a ... Read More »
96-100 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Classic/Highest Recommendation* The seductive bouquet offers wonderfully floral, fruity, guava- and melon-like fragrances of elderflower, becoming richly pear- and quince-like following aeration time. The palate entry is soft and firm; the midpalate is integrated, harmonious and exquisitely balanced between alcohol level, sweetness, acidity and floral impact. A perfect liqueur." (4/2008) K&L Notes: Double Gold Medal at the 2007 and 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition! St. Germain is an artisanal French liqueur made from hand-picked elderflower blossoms. The... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "A classic, can’t-go-wrong workhorse spirit that provides a versatile option for a wide range of cocktails. This clear liqueur has a bright, true orange scent with a hint of bitter orange on the aroma. The flavor mix is of candied orange slices and lightly bitter orange peel. The finish is warm and clean. Good balance. (KN)" (2/2012) K&L Notes: A must-have classic.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "New to the U.S. market in 2012, this 'dry' Curaçao is intriguing and should work well as a sophisticated sweetener alongside bitter-edged spirits and darker, biting spirits like rye whiskey. While not precisely dry, this golden liqueur has its vanilla sweetness tempered by a wash of bitter orange. The scent is rich and agave-like, with a touch of mezcal-like funkiness. (KN)" (2/2012) K&L Notes: Designed by renowned cocktailian David Wondrich, this is perhaps the finest orange liqueur available for mixing. Try it in a Sidecar or Corpse Reviver for spectacular results.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet is lovely, balanced, properly astringent, ripe and juicy with scents of cherry stone and cherry juice. The palate entry is decadently sweet and textured with vibrant tastes of cherry compote and cherry preserves at midpalate. The finish is svelte, moderately syrupy and downright delicious. An outstanding liqueur: use it in an Aviation Cocktail." (12/2007)
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "This lime-green, anise-scented liqueur is sweet at first sip, then herbaceous in the middle, showing fennel, pine, tarragon and mild floral notes. The finish is spicy and warming, with anise, white pepper and ginger heat. It's a bit too viscous and fiery for straight-up sipping, but it's beautifully complex and a key ingredient for the classic Last Word and other cocktails. (KN)" (4/2016) K&L Notes: Chartreuse has gotten notice in recent years as an important ingredient in popular Gin cocktails such as the Last Word, but the spirit which named a color has a grand and... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "*Year's Best Spirits 2016* A new year can hardly pass without another radiant offering from Lance Winters and Alameda-based St. George Spirits. Bruto Americano is an American aperitivo, bittered largely with gentian root, while California-grown Seville oranges and buckthorn bark provide orange and woodsy notes. The flavor may recall Campari (with a hint of Aperol citrus)—as does the color, a lush vermillion derived from cochineal, as Campari used to be—but the soothing texture and complexity puts it in a category of its own. BA’s gorgeous Italian futuris ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This relatively gentle amaro supposedly tastes like artichokes. Instead, the palate finds mellow dark chocolate, walnut and allspice, finishing bittersweet. (KN)" (4/2016) K&L Notes: An artichoke based bitter enhanced by the infusion of 13 different herbs and plants. Totally natural with rich aromatics, it is a modern and versatile digestivo. A great way to end your day.
If you're a Campari fan, but have never been able to find something outside of the Italian legend that scratches that same itch, then this might be the one thing that finally captivates you. The Leopold brothers have gone back to the drawing board and created an all natural version of the bitter aperitivo that uses real cochineal (like Campari used to) to color the liquid and brings a much bolder, more bitter flavor. It mixes like a DREAM into a Negroni and works wonders in an Americano. If you think you've got the Negroni cocktail mastered, think again.... Read More »
This true CLASSIC is a must have for any mixologist or amateur cocktail lover. This special french liquor was released in the 19th century by french industrialist vAlexandre Le Grand and it's actual connection to the Benedictine order is dubious at best, but the recipe is claimed to have been invented in 1510 by french monk Don Bernardo Vincelli. The main flavor components include Hyssop, Angelica, and Lemon Balm, but the other 24+ ingredients and the composition are a closely guarded trade secret. Similar to Chartreuse, the conncotion is aged for sever... Read More »
Using a wine base of Piemonte Moscato, this secret family recipe was developed over the last century by the Bosca Family. Using cardoon, Blessed thistle and several other botanicals, the Cardamaro is one of the most unique and interesting amaro currently available. An absolutely fantastic price for a high quality, delicious amaro and a fantastic gateway into this world of Italian bitters.
*5 Stars from Paul Pacult - Highest Recommendation!* Gran Classico Bitter is based on the original Bitter of Turin recipe dating from the 1860s. This classic aperitif is artisan-made in a small Swiss distillery from an infusion of numerous herbs and roots including bitter orange peel, wormwood, gentian, rhubarb, and other aromatic plants. Gran Classico Bitter’s color is a natural result of the herbs and plants infused into pure grain spirit produced to the highest Swiss standards and is not artificially colored in any way. It is amazingly complex and re... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* The vibrant, bittersweet bouquet is citrusy, herbal, floral and earthy. The palate entry is bittersweet, intensely herbal and earthy but refreshingly orange citrusy; the tasty midpalate is marked by heightened sweetness and a more mineral-like core flavor. Finish is savory and bittersweet." (12/2006) K&L Notes: According to a highly trusted source, this is the closest available substitute for the old incarnation of Amer Picon. (Amer Picon is a highly sought-after cocktail ingredient, which is not distributed in the United States.) What few people know is... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The nosing passes pick up smells of aniseed, cardamom, licorice, hay, white pepper, floral/viny scents along with coriander, sage, and thyme. The palate entry is sweet, floral, peppery, and viny; the midpalate features fennel, rosemary, allspice, and bark. Ends up herbal sweet." (2/2007) K&L Notes: A softer sweeter version of the green. Always a pleasure mixed up or even on the rocks.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "The brisk, invigorating scent of this amaro hovers between herbal and medicinal. On the palate, it skews sweeter, with rich caramel and hazelnut flavors and just enough bitterness and baking spice to keep things interesting." (4/2014) K&L Notes: Leave it to the Italians to make a bottle of "bitter" so beautiful and so tasty, too. This is an infusion, made from a secret recipe of aromatic herbs in alcohol, with the addition of a small amount of water and sugar. The result is a digestivo like none other, and just the thing to follow up an espresso after a rich, Italian... Read More »
There's a pretty incredible history behind Zwack. Born in 1790, the Zwack family eventually founded their recipe into an official business in 1840 and became Hungary's official beverage of choice.The business thrived into the early 20th century until the Red Army began marching westward. When the communists came to Hungary, the Zwacks fled to the United States, taking their recipe with them and leaving a fake one behind for the new regime that wanted to nationalize the company. It's been said that the recipe itself is what got János and Péter Zwack off o... Read More »
Originally created in 1823 by James Pimm of Kent to be served as a digestif, Pimm's Original Gin Sling was the first "House Cup" at London's popular Oyster Bar, thus the spirit's name: Pimm's No. 1 Cup. A special blend of herbs, liqueurs and quinine were steeped in gin and paired with oysters on the half shell. As the brand's reputation grew, other Pimm's Cups were developed, each based on different spirits, including vodka and brandy, but only the gin-based cup is available in the US today. The iconic cocktail, appropriately named Pimm's Cup, has been a... Read More »
Giffard is one of France's highest quality liqueur producers. They're sourcing the highest quality fruits and spices for their liqueurs and have committed to using local ingredients where ever possible. Because Giffard liqueurs are truly designed specifically for use in cocktails, the aromatic profile is the most important aspect of this product. While the flavor on the palate is excellent, the depth of flavor on the nose is second to none. The grapefruit is snappy, tart, and fresh. Incredible
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Grand Marnier—or “GrandMa,” as some cocktail geeks gleefully shorthand it—remains one of the classics. Although it’s Cognac-based, it’s a versatile match for other spirits, too. The liqueur is extremely aromatic, with lots of sweet and bitter orange notes exploding out of the glass. Look for a warm, honeyed flavor and a nice burst of orange peel and spicy cinnamon and ginger on the long finish. (KN)" (2/2012) K&L Notes: The original. Grand Marnier was created in 1880 by Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle (and the Lapostolle family still owns the company) as a blend o... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The first aromatic blast is seductively anise-like, then it mellows, turning softer, more herbal, and plumper. At palate entry the intensely bitter taste of anise both enlivens and cleanses the palate; at midpalate the pleasant sting of alcohol and the zest of rooty/woodsy botanicals make for memorable imbibing. Finishes elegant and smooth." (10/2005) K&L Notes: While the prohibition of absinthe in 1915 put a damper on wormwood spirits, it created a market for anise-flavored liqueurs like Ricard. With its characteristic licorice flavor, Ricard is a light and refreshi... Read More »
Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur combines juice from the seasonal harvest of Austria's famed Klosterneuberger apricots with an eau-de-vie produced from this same fruit. Destillerie Purkhart selects its apricots each season from family orchards in the Danube Valley and surrounding regions. Ideal for perfecting so many classic cocktails. Try the Golden Dawn Cocktail: 2/3 oz. Dry Gin, 2/3 oz. Orchard Apricot Liqueur, 2/3 oz Calvados, 2/3 oz. Cointreau, 1 dash Grenadine.
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet features intriguing scents of coffee bean, black walnut, chicory and a hint of quinine. The palate entry is molasses-like and walnutty; the midpalate features tastes of black walnut and buttery richness on top of the roasted coffee bean. Ends stately, concentrated, luxurious, and nuttily delicious." (5/2007) K&L Notes: Nocino is the traditional walnut liqueur made throughout Italy and Ticino (the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland). The base ingredients of Nocino have changed very little through the centuries. They include cut, unripe walnuts, alcohol (... Read More »
Made from a century old recipe created in 1903 by Berry Bros & Rudd in London specifically for King Edward VII, King's Ginger Liqueur is a top-class ginger liqueur unlike any other. Voluptuous yet vibrant, His Majesty used it to "stimulate and revivify" himself. Appreciated by the Sporting Class ever since, we've waited a long time for its arrival. The sublime liqueur's base is Glenrothes Single Malt. Carefully macerated ginger root and lemon peel are slowly steeped in this heady and expensive base. It has various uses, as a warming agent on a cold nig... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine & Spirits: "Not as unusual, but certainly noteworthy, is the St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur. Based on the New Orleans–style chicory coffee, the lightly sweet and spiritous brew combines cold-steeped Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans with vanilla and cane sugar. Pure roast-coffee flavor dominates, with hints of cherry and a smoky essence from the chicory. There are just enough floral vanilla tones to keep it from getting heavy. (LB)" (10/2014) K&L Notes: Roasted Yirgacheffe coffee beans, French chicory root, Madagascar vanilla beans, and organic cane sugar combine to create a coffee li... Read More »
The magnificent Giffard Triple Sec is the gold standard for orange liqueur. A fabulous addition to almost any cocktail. From the distillery: "Fresh and candied orange notes. Delicately sweet, enhanced by a note of bitterness that is typical of orange and grapefuit peels. Slight touch of cinnamon at the end."
Sfumato Rabarbaro translates to "smoky rhubarb," which tells you all you need to know about this unique amaro. Instead of using a neutral base, the Cappelletti family of Trentino-Alto uses a special variety of rhubarb root that's combined with alpine herbs and berries.
Suze Gentiane Liqueur is a bitter aperitif that has been produced in France since 1889, but we're just getting it at K&L now! Lightly sweet with plenty of gentian bitterness, this is the perfect ingredient for a white negroni, or just plain soda water.
Pernod's distinctive flavor comes from the distillation of star anise with a number of aromatic herbs and plants. The original Pernod was an absinthe, though because of the controversy that surrounded the drink of Picasso, Baudelaire and Van Gogh, the ingredient responsible for the drink's hallucinatory effect was banned. Now absinthe free, this legendary product has become one of the best-known digestifs available today.
Wine Enthusiast: "Dark purple, nearly opaque, with a wine-like scent. Warm and rich, this black currant spirit coats the tongue and palate with big, grape-berry flavors. It’s best lightened with bubbly, as in a Kir royale." K&L Notes: There may be no better aperitif for an outdoor spring meal than a glass of dry rosé. Then again, we would not sniff at a chilled Kir, either. Made with any ol' simple white wine (Aligoté is the traditional choice, but a Mâcon or Pinot Blanc work just fine) and the addition of a healthy dash of Crème di Cassis, a Kir is refreshing, palate awakening and th... Read More »
The Danish classic is making a come back with the craft cocktail set. Its fresh, tart cherry character is the perfect balance to add both sweetness and acidity to your cocktail. If you love cherries, this is the adulterant for you. You can also sip it chilled or throw it in a spritz without much issue.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Nuanced and palate-cleansing, look for a mild, savory scent and bracing notes of dill, fennel seed and pine, plus a brisk, zingy finish that suggests caraway-seeded rye bread. Pair this refreshing sip with herring or other savory bites. (KN)" (11/2016) K&L Notes: Brennivin is Iceland's most classic tipple. The stark black label and intense flavor have given rise to the nickname "Black Death," but the traditional Icelandic "schnapps" is all about celebrating life! Distilled from grain and flavored with caraway, it does not have any sugar added after distillation and t... Read More »
From importer Haus Alpenz: "The Apertivo Cappelletti, endearingly known to locals as just 'Specialino,' may be the oldest house of the classic red bitter still in production. Unlike its larger commercial rivals, Cappelletti is less sweet and has a wonderful drying finish. Additionally, it still uses natural carmine color for a crimson red and retains a vinous texture from its wine base. It offers a vibrant and flavorful profile, complemented by bitter undertones on a traditional wine base. This yields a negroni or spritz that is dry and refreshing on the... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Despite the mild licorice scent, this clear, thick liqueur is surprisingly bold on the palate, showing lots of candy-like black licorice. It feels quite fiery, especially with repeated sips. (KN)" (4/2014)
Only the second domestically produced Fernet available, SF's local Fernet producer has knocked it out of the park. It's got everything you love about the Branca and nothing you don't! Gone is the hard edged menthol flavors, replaced by cinnamon and subtle bitter roots ALL sourced locally. The ingredients list is made of almost exclusively native plants with the exception of a couple of classics which are nonetheless grown in CA. Medium bodied with a good deep spicy nose. The palate is forgives, but does not forget! Lots of complex and familiar aromas of ... Read More »
This magnificent banana liqueur makes us rethink all our preconceptions about, well, banana liqueur. It's fabulously aromatic, the perfect ripe banana, peel and pulp. On the palate, it's restrained in its sweetness and has the subtle hint of tart potassium. A lovely effort using bananas of the highest quality sourced from Brazil.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* A syrupy textured mixer comprised of liquid sucrose, lime juice, almond and clove essences and water—not to be consumed neat. Clove and lime juice on the nose. Thick and sweet on the palate, but the lime juice acts as the perfect balance for the high-octane liquid sucrose. Scores of applications in cocktails." (6/2006) K&L Notes: Velvet Falernum is a longtime staple item of resorts and bars in Barbados, and today for its use in Tropical, Tiki and Caribbean drinks such as the Rum Swizzle, Mai Tai, Zombie, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Corn n’ Oil. It is ... Read More »
Hand-peeled, hand-cut Vietnamese ginger is the core of this spicy, exotic elixir. It is then macerated with herbs and spices and married with a fine Cognac. "Ginger," according to the New York Times, "as a cocktail ingredient, is on a serious roll right now… but the Domaine de Canton, which fuses baby ginger with Cognac, feels more like a classic than something parachuted into a trend. It's got that ginger heat, but it's not too strong and it's very aromatic. It's also a lively addition to Champagne."
From its origins in the tropical hills and valleys of Jamaica, the allspice berry has for generations been prized for its exceptional tastes of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg and a pepper note that dazzles the palate. The allspice liqueur, known in classic cocktails as "Pimento Dram," brings together the fine pot-still rum and classic allspice berries of Jamaica. Enjoy St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram in classic cocktails, Wassail and other punches, mulled wine, continental and island cuisine.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Deep purple-brown in the glass, the aroma mixes jammy cherry and raspberry with eucalyptus. The palate walks the line between lightly sweet and lightly bitter, mingling herbaceous root beer notes with faint but refreshing mint and a mildly bitter edge. Recommended as a digestif or for cocktail mixing (i.e. Negroni-style drinks). (KN)" (4/2016) K&L Notes: This traditional Amaro from the far-flung Basilicata region is made in the most traditional manner. Using only natural botanicals and following a hundred-year-old family recipe, the secret ingredient that differentia... Read More »
98 points Wine Enthusiast: "Potato spirit flavored with herbs and spices that’s been aged in Sherry casks. First nosings expose exotic and compelling aromas of bark, wood chips and fennel; further aeration releases heady scents of spice and honey. Palate entry of caraway-seeded rye bread; by midpalate, the flavor profile adds mild sweetness, soft spice and that persistent caraway seed. Aftertaste is moderately oily, off-dry and intensely herbal. One of the greatest spirits ever from Scandinavia." K&L Notes: "One of the finest Aquavit available. Jorgen B. Lysholm secret family recipe was a myst... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This lemon liqueur appears slight at first: pale yellow and slightly cloudy, lightly fragranced with lemon oil. Yet one sip, and the favor is unmistakably bold, balancing sweetness with an authentic and clean lemon-peel acidity. (KN)" (4/2014) K&L Notes: Meletti was founded in 1870 by Silvio Meletti.
Just in time for the holiday season, legendary Oregon fruit distiller Steve McCarthy brings you his best liqueur yet: Clear Creek Cranberry. I have been anxiously and impatiently awaiting this elixir since I got the chance to sample it at the distillery four months ago. This is not the sugary-sweet, syrupy substance you probably are expecting. This cranberry liqueur captures the pure tart and tangy essence of the berry itself, with just enough sweetness to balance it out. It's juicy, supple, and incredibly addicting. It's going to blow you away and it's ... Read More »
98 points Wine Enthusiast: "Extra-aged Green Chartreuse. Aromas are keenly botanical and vegetal/woodsy. The palate shows peppermint, citrus peel, and sage along with the herbs and botanicals. Concludes with finesse and power." (3/2007) K&L Notes: The legendary aged liqueur of the Carthusian Monks is becoming more limited every year. Demand is through the roof on their highest end liqueur, the VEP or vieillissement exceptionnellement prolongé. That means that the secret recipe is aged for an extended period of time (much speculation as to exactly how long) in oak casks in the traditional cellar... Read More »
Finally! We've been given a version of white Campari/Biancosarti that's actually everything we'd hoped for! Luxardo's Bitter Bianco comes from a well-balanced distilled infusion of bitter herbs, aromatic plants and citrus fruits in water and alcohol. The result is stunning and for those who are genuinely Campari crazy (as in crazy for Campari specifically, not just all bitter liqueurs), this is the closest substitute we've ever encountered. Try it in an Americano or white Negroni and be amazed. It's the most exciting new Italian liqueur to hit the Americ... Read More »
This bitter liqueur from Calabrian herbs is one of the most popular amari in all of Italy, and now it's finally available again at K&L. 29 different herbs are infused into the spirit including orange peel, licorice, camomile, tangerine peel, and juniper to create a bitter, citric, and spicy elixir with supreme versatility.
Well, I've only been waiting my entire life for this product to arrive. This is truly the quintessential bitter French liqueur. They start with high quality neutral spirit. Both bitter and sweet orange peels are macerated in the base spirit before being distilled. Then they do it again. Wait, then they do it one more time. Then they add more peels, spices, botanicals, etc. A small amount of sugar is used to balance the bitter and stabilize the color. This is the Franco-phonic answer to Amaro and it is so so good. Truly a special treat for anyone smart en... Read More »
From the exceptional team at Tempus Fugit Spirits, this authenticate Violette recipe stands out from the crowd of other violet liqueurs. Officially distinct from what's available, the Tempus Fugit Violettes is classified as a liqueur rather than a creme. This means less sugar. Light and ethereal, it does not come off as soapy or overly aromatic. In addition, the use of cochineal for coloring means that no artiifical dye is needed, but of course your aviations won't be that brilliant sky blue either. Clearly one of the best violette on the markets despite... Read More »
Maraschino is the original liqueur from Zadar, Croatia, acknowledged all over the world for its excellence. Recognizable by its distinctive sweet flavor and aromatic bouquet, it is prepared according to the traditional recipe created by the pharmacists of the Dominican monastery at the beginning of 16th century. Distilled from the Dalmatian marasca cherry, providing pleasure for numerous fastidious connoisseurs ever since. Historically recognized and preferred by some of the world's greatest. From Napoleon Bonaparte to Casanova, Hitchcock and Baudelaire,... Read More »
Salers is the oldest and most traditional aperitif of France's Massif Central region, where this style originated. It derives its rustic flavors from hand-harvested gentiane exclusively from the Auvergne region. Salers has been producing the finest quality gentiane liqueur since 1885 and should be enjoyed on ice with lemon or in a variety of cocktails that call for this traditional type of liqueur.