One of the laughable goals that I have for this blog is for it to at some point yield me free booze from marketing departments of liquor companies. This entry will not help in that endeavor, as I'm about to trash a spirit at length.
That spirit being Amarula, perhaps the least favorite piece of booze that I own. As previously mentioned, the "Spirit of Africa" is a sickly sweet concoction of creme and some fruit I'd never heard of. I have problems with Amarula on a couple of grounds. First, at a visceral level I don't like the taste. I don't hate all sweet drinks. I've had Bailey's on the rocks and it wasn't too bad for a desert drink. I like port quite a bit as well. Amarula might be sweeter than all of them, and the fruit causes the aftertaste to waft around upleasantly. Second, from everything that I've found on the web, Amarula doesn't lend itself to the type of cocktails that I enjoy, or want to enjoy anyway. I you look around, most of the cocktails combine Amarula solely or primarily other sweet and weak (Amarula is only 34 proof) spirits like banana, mint, or coffee liqueurs.
To the extent that any base spirit can mix with this, without trying all of them, I can only imagine that rum or vodka will work because anything too harsh would clash horribly with the fruit. My first cocktail attempt, which shall remain unnamed (and unloved) includes the former. The thinking was to mix Amarula's fruit and creme flavors with with real fruit and rum to make some sort of bastardized tiki drink. So as not to waste good rum, I'm using the Whaler's Vanilla Rum. I'm not giving Whaler's its own Consuming the Shame entry because to be honest it's not a "difficult" spirit, so much as one that just of pretty low quality, much like my generic triple sec. I used blackberries because they are juicy and I didn't think anything citrus would work too well with Amarula.
5 muddled blackberries (or strawberries)
.75 ounce of Amarula
.75 ounce of light rum
Muddle blackberries, combine with booze, stir with ice, and strain into a glass, garnish with a blackberry. Serve with ice.
My initial reaction was that this drink sucked, which was also my final reaction - but it was only mediocre in between. Let me explain. Unless you actually use a juicer for the berries (and it can't be worth the mess for a drink like this), the muddled berries combined with the Amarula will make for a very thick drink. It reminds me of Jamba Juice, which is fantastic, but here it makes for an odd drinking experience. My reaction after the first sip was that this was rough stuff. It left a sugary and oddly warm taste in my mouth, though not in a good way like whiskey. It also lacked the synergy of a good smoothie, like the way bananas and strawberries complement each other.
However, as the ice melted just a bit to thin it out (and booze Stockholm Syndrome set in) I started thinking that maybe I was being too harsh on the drink. Just when I was going to upgrade my evaluation, I got to the end and ate the garnish blackberry. The wonderful clean taste of the blackberry juxtaposed with the muddled mess that was this drink and made me realize that I'd just wasted some good fruit. I'd never actually been angry at a drink before.
My next drink, called the Spirit of Moscow, was somewhat less creative and a bit more successful, though perhaps because the Amarula made up a smaller fraction of the beverage. It played off of a White Russian, though substituting Amarula and dark creme de cacao for Kahlua, as I'd seen those two team up in a number of cocktails online.
Spirit of Moscow
1.5 ounces of vodka (I used Skyy)
.75 ounces of creme
.38 ounces of Amarula
.38 ounces of dark creme de cacao
Mix ingredients in a glass with ice the Dude style.
It's OK but unnecessary. It's certainly drinkable, tasting much like a White Russian, but with a bit of a fruity note. Nonetheless, it doesn't add as much to the White Russian in nuance as it removes in coherency. All in all the Spirit of Russia is a passable drink but nothing I'd have again.
Clearly there are folks that like Amarula, but I'm not one of them. Maybe it's a me thing. Just like I don't care much for beats for instance, perhaps there is something about the flavor of Amarula that disagrees with me through no fault of its own. More likely, it's a candy cane sweat spirit that has a whiny fruit aftertaste. Although my general orientation is to collect as much booze as possible, this may be one to give away.