We’re featuring an original creation of mine in today’s article. The Beryl was an attempt to create a drink that could serve as an introduction to the powerful flavor of anise and anise-like herbs and spices. The flavor—which is similar to that of fennel, caraway, and licorice root—is a little challenging for many people, myself included! I wanted to learn to enjoy it, even if I’m never going to be downing black jelly beans by the handful, so I set about working on a drink that would let the flavor shine through without smacking me over the head with it. The end result was a success! I make this cocktail often, and thoroughly enjoy drinking it.
There are a ton of liqueurs that use anise or licorice flavors. They’re present in many Italian Amari, French Amers, and herbal liqueurs like Chartreuse and Benedictine. The Greek liqueur Ouzo and the Italian liqueur Sambuca are both heavily anise-flavored (too much for this drink). Anise flavoring is also extremely prevalent in absinthe, and in absinthe-like liqueurs such as pastis and Herbsaint.
I decided to use a reasonable dose of Green Chartreuse, because it uses anise as an ensemble player rather than as the star. To that I added a small amount of pastis, which ups the anise flavor significantly without causing it to dominate the drink (you could also use absinthe here, if you have it on hand). I didn’t want to use gin exclusively as a base liqueur, fearing the botanicals might overwhelm or contrast with the anise flavors I was trying to highlight, so I instead cut it with equal parts vodka, which is essentially flavorless. Celery bitters add both citrus and vegetal notes, working surprisingly well to pull things together. A star anise pod as garnish helps add aroma without impacting flavor.
If you don’t have celery bitters, you should get some, but you can also substitute by using citrus bitters, including lemon or orange. If you don’t have a bottle of orange bitters, well … you need to work on your bar!
The finished drink accomplishes the mission of bringing plenty of anise flavor to the party without being overwhelming. It’s a shimmering light green, which along with the unusual garnish makes it as compelling to the eyes as it is to the nose and tongue. If you’re interested in growing an appreciation for anise and licorice flavors, and want to start somewhere that’s not overwhelming, I strongly recommend giving the Beryl a shot!
- 1.5 oz. Gin (Bluecoat)
- 1.5 oz. Vodka (Chopin)
- .25 oz. Green Chartreuse
- 1 tsp Pastis (Pernod)
- Dash Celery Bitters (The Bitter Truth)
Combine all ingredients in a pint glass over ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a star anise pod.
Liquors in parentheses are what I used when I made this recipe, and are included as suggestions.