There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must admit that her favorite childhood Christmas cocktail (yeah, yeah — I said it) is just too damn sweet. For me, that moment came when Natalie Migliarini of Beautiful Booze told me she was interested in making my Nuts & Berries recipe for her own blog.
Naturally, I was thrilled. But then I panicked. Yes, it’s a dessert cocktail — one that I only ever bust out a few times around the holidays. But it’s SO sweet. Is that what I want Natalie’s fans to think of my drinks? No. The answer is no. No fucking way. Want to know the real me? Dump a bunch of bitters in a glass of rye and I’m one happy camper. But Natalie’s whole thing is beautiful drinks (like, it’s her full-time job!), and it really is a pretty drink. This was the picture I posted of it last year that caught her attention:
Instead of tossing out the whole idea, or trying to come up with something new (because who the hell has time for that??), I decided to just improve upon the original recipe. My family has always made the Nuts & Berries cocktail with Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, and Chambord raspberry liqueur. Last year, I tried it with the Buffalo Trace cream liqueur, which is delicious, but even sweeter than Baileys if you can believe it. This year, I decided to add a bitter component, and I’m so glad I did.
After trying a few different options in various shades of red and brown, the clear winner (which was my first idea) was amaro. Of course, I got the idea because I had a new bottle of J. Rieger Co’s Caffè Amaro looking all pretty (and of course, already half empty) on my bar.
Now, I must admit, this is not your typical amaro because it’s made with coffee (it’s basically a bitter coffee liqueur) and I knew the flavors would work wonderfully with the whiskey cream, hazelnut, and raspberry notes in the other ingredients. Don’t worry if you haven’t hopped on the Caffé Amaro train yet, though; Montenegro and other amaros have the same balancing effect on the drink, though I do like to add a little dash of Angostura bitters if I go that route. I even tested a few versions with different amaros and probably gave myself diabetes just to be sure you could make this at home. You’re welcome. That said, if you can get your hands on a bottle of the J. Rieger Co. Caffè Amaro, DO IT. You won’t be sorry. (I also really like it with whiskey on the rocks for a nice after-dinner drink.)
So you’re probably wondering: Is this drink still super sweet? Yes! It’s a dessert drink. It’s supposed to be! Like I said last year, it’s sweet, but not in a nasty way, and creamy, but also not in a nasty way. Oh, and it’s five [and a half!] ounces of straight-up liqueurs.
NUTS & BERRIES 2.0
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
2 ounces Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1 ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur
½ ounce J. Rieger Co. Caffé Amaro*
*Or other amaro + optional dash of Angostura bitters
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker or mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled glass, on or off the rocks, depending on your preference (I prefer a coupe — it fancy!).
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