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A classic Italian high proof eggyolk amaro

For 500 mL of Zwack Unicum (I want to use Fernet but I’m using the Unicum because I have a bottle, I fear it, and I need to figure out how to use it. It has comparable sugar and alcohol content to Fernet)

Guides suggest a minimum of 14% alcohol which definitely won’t be a problem using Zwack Unicum or Fernet Branca. Guides also call for 140 g/L of egg yolks and 150 g/L of sugar. with a little bit of hydrometer work and some extrapolation we find that Zwack already rings in at 7 brix or so which may only be about 70 g/L (very impercise).

To make 500 mL:
70 g egg yolks (really five yolks @ 77.2 g)
50 g sugar
450 mL or so of amaro.
.5 g of vitamin c powder as an antioxidant

Dissolve the sugar first into the alcohol (with patience) then slowly integrate the alcohol into the egg yolks.

These are the recommended proportions of an old agricultural science manual. Upon tasting it, I like the new mouth feel and see a contribution from the yolks but I really feel I need more. (if not 7 more yolks!) At its present state I don’t see how the liqueur would hold its own to coffee. Seven more yolks will even probably increase the volume by less than 100 mL.

Another 103.7 g of egg yolks.

!! totally worth using the 175 g or so of yolks.

Because I’m making this really quickly, there is some undissolved sugar (due to a lack of patience) and maybe some burnt yolk from the initial high alcohol. Like in a zabaglione, I can get rid of most of this by passing it all through a fine strainer.

There is surprisingly quite a lot for the strainer to remove but the final product is pretty cool. Strong but tamed by the texture of the yolks. A ferocious amaro becomes much more approachable. Now lets see how long it will keep.

I have no coffee but it adds a delicious complexity to earl grey tea.


I managed to drink this with some coffee and it was a delicious rich alternate to cream with extra flavor contrast. I have not worked intimately with Advocaat and have no understanding of how stable it is, but I do notice little flecks of egg yolk separating and I fear it may be from alcohol levels being higher than is stable. The particles can be easily strained off but its not that aesthetically pleasing. Next time I may dilute the intensity of the alcohol with some water. Fernet is full flavored enough that water won’t harm it too much.


I was trying to make this drink for a small newspaper article on winter egg drinks. I didn’t use the fortified yolk liqueur but merely a quick zabaglione with four yolks, 2 table spoons of sugar, 2 oz. of Fernet, 2 oz. of white wine. the results were really great in hot coffee. Awesome flavor contrast and a certain richness. It even works well in iced coffee.


So many people search for a Bombardino recipe according to my blog statistics. Of course nearly no one comments on anything. What exactly are you looking for? and how do you know of the drink? Strangely, the drink is rather common on European restaurant menus relative to its obscurity here in America. Any insights on this tradition?

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Amer Picon Replica

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I received one of the last bottles of the beer Picon in Boston and thought it was pretty cool. Low alcohol, orangey, bitter and that’s about all. You can taste all the ingredients that are on the label and nothing more (gentian, quinine, orange peel). Picon’s allure is enhanced by the fact that you can’t get it, but over all its pretty peasanty stuff and never fetched much money.

Well, I have all the ingredients to construct a batch from scratch so I thought I could make a replica of the elusive, original, higher proof version (that I’ve never had). The recipe will be constructed by educated guess of what it would take to make cocktails that used it sing. Amer Picon feels like it would be the same as any other orange liqueur (brizard, cointreau, creole shrub) but just with gentian and quinine. If Amer Picon had the same alcohol content as the great orange liqueurs then it probably had the same sugar content. And probably even the same orange peel intensity. It is likely that Picon just emulated success.

I made some beautiful tinctures of gentian and quinine and added them to a bottle of creole shrub. And about .75 grams of each botanical by weight dissolved in a tincture (5ml of my proprietary tinctures deployed with a culinary, needleless syringe).

The result of this easy to construct replica is some pretty tasty stuff. Picon (from what I have tasted and what I’ve read of it) really isn’t that bitter. It is not exactly Campari. But the botanicals really lengthen the finish to something very elegant. And make the sugar content seem more pleasant. Maybe it is not peasanty. Maybe it is more like middle class sophistication (fine vermouth is my idea of upperclass tastewise sophistication).

I based my botanical intensities roughly on guidelines from Maynard Amerine’s books of the subject and those guidelines seem to meet the average of most people’s tastes. The test will really be to drink as many Picon cocktails as I can and see if the elements are all parsable and in acceptable sugar balance.

I feel like quinine is a nicer bitter than gentian and maybe I should make it more dominant. That would be my only change so far.

The first cocktail I tried was the Brut Cocktail Variation from the cocktaildb

1.5 oz. dry vermouth (M&R)
.75 oz. amer picon (replica)
dash peychauds bitters

This is beautiful and everything contributes. I even like how my replica Picon’s lack of caramel doesn’t muddy the cocktail’s color. It has this pretty pink hued tint. The acid of the vermouth is in good ratio with sugar of the Picon (justifies my sugar content?) and the bitter quotient is sublime.

My tinctures are as follows:

powdered quinine tincture.

463.3 grams of powdered quinine.

infused in 2 liters of deville brandy (80 proof) with 500ml more of jaques cardin vsop (80 proof) to bring the total to 2500ml

The idea was to terminally infuse the quinine and create a volume measurement that translates to gram of quinine. So I can have a proprietary way of using historical recipes. It didn’t quite work in the end as planned but it is still very useful.

Separating the quinine from the liquid is very difficult so I made the tincture by racking off only the clear liquid from the top. The rest will stay at the bottom and maybe make a different tincture for quinine soda that I make to taste.

The result was 1375ml of tincture (the color is the most stunning ebony!). To account for it differently and approximate the grams per ml

463.3g / 2500ml = .18532 g/ml ! but you don’t know if things are uniformly dissolved or even terminally dissolved. So if anything it would be weaker. And you don’t know anything about the relative quality of raw material anyhow. So this is rather proprietary but reproducible. (I had it all in a standard 3 liter mason jar if that helps anyone) A huge amount of liquid is still locked in the powdered quinine sludge.

gentian tincture…

93.6 grams of gentian (i only bought a quarter pound)

infused in 750ml of jaques cardin VSOP (80 proof)… (the nose of it reminds me of nuts. peanut and hazelnut with a woody aspect) ended up with a 600ml tincture once it was strained after a couple weeks… 93.6/600 = grams/ml the tincture is .156 grams per ML

This approximates direct infusion. Should you account for that 150 that was lost or not to really get to direct infusion? The big loss of volume means that my measurements are really proprietary to my tinctures.

Maybe if I finish my creole shrub project I can extrapolate how much sugar weight and orange weight goes into every liquid ounce so people can use it to construct Kina Lillet replicas based on old recipes or whatever floats their boat.


So I still haven’t revisited this project but I should still add some tasting notes before I forget them. Down at the tales of the cocktails I was lucky enough to taste Jamie Boudreau’s recipe side by side with a bottle of the original formula Picon. Jamie’s replica is far closer to the original than mine but I did notice that his had too much orange which easily seems to be eliminatable from his recipe. The orange character of mine is way off but who knows how the bottle of the original has aged. The original formula has an oxidized, darker kind of orange character. I wonder if the shade of orange is augmented by the spirit base where maybe my recipe would be much better with a blend of creole shrub and grand marnier. Jamie’s recipe and the original was also far more bitter. My theory of using Amerine’s recipes as a guideline are obviously way off and the original formula anyhow, is far closer to Campari than I would have thought. Oh well, I can just add more tincture.

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Hand Made Creole Shrubb

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[I’ve learned so much since this post and have distilled orange liqueurs, deconstructed commercial brands, tackled terpene science, learned about fixation, created best bets, discovered Joseph Merory’s recipes, and so much more!]

Hopefully I can add to this liqueur recipe as I get a chance to work on it, but writing things down will help me to analytically tackle things and create a functional, reproducible recipe.

The the six sour oranges that I bought (which were slightly larger than the ones I got earlier in the season from Specialty Produce) yielded 113.5 grams of peel un-dehydrated (micro planed with as little pith as possible). The peel is very unique and is sopping with moisture. I don’t own a dehydrater so I dried it out in a 200 f oven for 45 minutes or so spreading it across my non stick container to make it dry fast. The peel contained 80.4 grams of water which is 70.8% of the original weight! This leaves us with 33.1 grams to work with to make as much shrub as possible.

My strategy for seeing how many grams per liter a good shrubb takes will be to introduce it to an already sugared alcohol stock and keep increasing the amount until my tasting panel thinks we obtain comparable intensity. This may take quite a while as things need time to dissolve and integrate. The creole spices are another issue all together and I think the only way to really add them in a recipe for a liter batch is by adding a small calculated tincture.

A good spirit base is important for a good shrubb. Cointreau (not a shrubb I know) and clement’s creole shrubb both weigh in at 80 proof which means that with their massive amount of sugar they both start with something quite stiff. To figure out their sugar contents and gain a clue at what proof they start with I can sacrifice a cup or two of clement’s shrub and cook out the alcohol, refill the volume with distilled water and then get an unbiased refractometer reading [I developed so many other ways of doing this]. I think you could make a great version starting from an 80 proof spirit and I will probably have to make that concession. I would love to make a creole shrubb someday that used some of my favorites rums like St. James or Ron Barrellito for flavor contrast.

For the sensory evaluation, I think I’ll use a technique from Maynard Amerine’s Wines: Their Sensory Evaluation and provide three tasting samples, two that are alike, and an odd man out. The panel will try to differentiate my product from a commercial product in regards to orange intensity and hopefully it will be difficult because things will be the same. This means I have to use a similar base spirit for my test batch.


So for this proof of concept batch I ended up using Bunratty’s potcheen (90 proof) that I got for free. It has a creepy banana aroma and basically says it was adulterated but it was free so it is hard to argue with.

The 750ml of 90 proof liquid weighed 703.7 grams to bring the sugar up to 38% by weight I had to add 432 grams of whole foods organic white sugar.

432g/(432+703.7)=.38 (this increases the volume to something like 1.1 liters or so.

then I added the 33.1 grams of orange peel… now we must be patient and let everything dissolve.

My educated guess is that if vermouth gets 28 grams per 3.8 liters of orange peels, 33.1 grams of orange peel may flavor quite a lot of creole shrub. Luckily this does make the recipe quite economical.

Amerine has a table in his Technology of Wine Making that shows how many pounds of oil you get per 100 pounds of most culinary spices and herbs. Oranges weigh in at 5lbs. which is fairly high relative to most other botanicals. Hopefully we can expect a nice creole shrubb yield.

What were only dreams will be Newman’s own creole shrubb.

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