Liqueurs come in all manner of weird and wonderful flavours. From orange liqueurs like triple sec and curaçao, to crème de menthe, a peppermint spirit, there aren’t many tastes you can’t find in alcoholic form from someone. I thought I’d seen it all, until I received a small package from Berlin-based bartender Gonçalo Monteiro containing an unlabeled bottle of yellow-hued spirit. I quickly sent him an email curious what the bottles contents might be, and his reply surprised even me… mustard liqueur.
The liqueur was discovered by Dominik Galander in a speciality store while he was shopping for stock for his new bar, Galander (Großbeerenstrasse 54, Berlin). Weighing in at 28% ABV the liqueur is quite unlike anything I’ve ever tried before, combing notes of dill, cucumber, and – as you might expect – mustard, with just a light sweetness.
Soon after discovering the liqueur Dominik gave Gonçalo some bottles and he began to experiment, first trying a Margarita variation that attempted to pair the mustard with the earthy agave notes of Tequila. Sadly that didn’t work out, and so Gonçalo turned his attention to other ideas including a delicious sounding mixture of reduced balsamic, Cognac and mustard liqueur called the “Il Man Hat Tan di Modena” which I have yet to try, and today’s drink – Le Martini Dijonnais.
An inverted Martini, the cocktail uses a 3:1 ratio of Mustard liqueur to vermouth, with a dash of gin to give it a little extra body. The final ingredient of the drink was added by Angus Winchester who upon trying the drink suggested some celery bitters might add that missing zing that transforms a cocktail from good to great. Gonçalo, being the perfectionist he is, still claims the drink needs some more time and work to become a really good drink, but for me it’s already just great.
- 1½ shot / 45 ml / 1½ oz mustard liqueur
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz dry vermouth
- 1 bar-spoon gin
- 2 dashes celery bitters
- Stir all ingredients with ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.
Le Martini Dijonnais has a wonderfully light mouthfeel, yet packs a complex punch of flavours. An initial sweetness reveals a lot of the more floral notes of the vermouth, before giving way to the vegetal dill and mustard flavours of the liqueur and a slowly drying finish. The celery bitters add a little bite to the drink, really helping the other flavours to pop. So often I find lighter, less alcoholic cocktails to be lacking in flavour and depth, but Le Martini Dijonnais lacks neither, and is something very different indeed.
Galander Fine Mustard Liqueur can be purchased from their online shop, assuming you have a rough grasp of German!
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