If there was such a programme as “Desert Island Liqueurs” in which people choose the drinks they would want to be shipwrecked and marooned along with them on a remote atoll, I would choose limoncello. Without hesitation.
Although I would have to have a Coole Swan as well. I couldn’t go without my Minty Don.
Music evokes places. So do liqueurs. Limoncello immediately transports you to the dream world of Italy’s Sorrento peninsula.
Although Isola Azurra claims to be the birthplace of the lemon zest liqueur, limoncello was created at the beginning of the 20th century in Capri where Maria Antonia Farace looked after a garden of oranges and lemons. It was here that Vincenza Canale, the proprietress of the Maria Antonia Hotels made homemade lemon drinks for her guests. Then in 1988, her grandson’s son, Massimo Canale, founded a company making Limoncello di Capri, a mutation of the ancient Caprese dialect “limonillo” and registered its mark. The original recipe is still used today.
Made exclusively with P.G.I. Sorrento lemons called “Ovali di Sorrento”. Femminello St. Teresa or Sfusato lemon e demic to the region since the sixteenth century and grown on “paglairelle” chestnut wood pergolas with protection nets, fruit-ripening is slowed to develop aroma and taste. Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as a digestive.
The oldest English liqueur still being made dates back to 1903 when Berry Bros & Rudd of London (est.1698) created their “King’s Ginger” for King Edward V11.
Not far behind was “Benedictine” or D.O.M (Deo Optimo Maximo – Praise be to God, Most Good, Most Great) – first made at Fecamp Abbey, France in 1510, green “Chartreuse” (1737) and orange-flavoured “Grand Marnier”, named after its inventor and co-investor by the hotel owner Cesar Ritz.
Mixed simply as a spritz with Prosecco or with tonic water, limoncello provides a refreshingly fruity beverage that’s as delicious at Christmas as it is in summer.
Bailey’s Original Irish Cream Liqueur, made from Glanbia milk in Dublin and Mallusk, Northern Ireland, was invented in 1974. Breaking its template, Coole Swan was invented in 2007.
They share the same creator, former Diageo man David Gluckman, author of “That S**t Will Never Sell” who also created “Tanqueray Ten”.
Both are around 16-17% ABV. Bailey’s is perhaps more caramelly and less nutty on the nose than the creamier Coole Swan – the self-proclaimed “Superior Irish Cream Liqueur”. Bailey’s, named after a restaurant, is slightly less expensive.
Coole Swan’s distinctive white bottle, made in Slovenia and decorated in Poland, contains single-malt Irish whiskey, Callebaut Belgian white chocolate and fresh cream from freshly milked cows from Co Meath. It is bottled in Victorian milk bottles in Baillieborogh and owned by Navan-based former Diageo corporate financier-turned-farmer Mary Sadler and husband, Philip Brady.
“We add no preservatives or other ingredients to bulk it out. This is the reason that it has a distinctive and pure taste.”
Says Sadler who took part in Going For Growth, a part-time programme supported by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, which assists ambitious female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth aspirations.
In 2020, Coole Swan received the 96/100 “pinnacle of quality” accolade from The Wine Enthusiast.
Most of its ever increasing army of lovers believe that Coole Swan affords double the swoon Bailey’s does. And makes for a perfect Mudslide and National Velvet.
Coole Swan is named after “Wild Swans At Coole”, a poem by W.B. Yeats, the first Nobel Prize For Literature to be honoured with his own cocktail – Coole Swan’s “23” – Ketel One peach and orange vodka and crème de menthe.
“When Barack Obama was on a stopover in Shannon, he got a taste for Coole Swan and it was stocked on Air Force One during his time as US President. As Joe and Jill Biden also bought Coole Swan when they came to Shannon.”
How to make a The Minty Don
The ingredients you will need are 100ml Coole Swan, 80g Cucumber and 3 Mint Leaves. First, muddle the chopped cucumber with 2 mint leaves for as long as possible to make a paste. Secondly, shake hard over ice for 20 seconds before straining through a bar sieve and garnishing it with a wedge of cucumber and a mint leaf.
How to make a 1923
For this cocktail you will need 80ml Coole Swan, 35ml Peach & Orange infused Vodka (we used Ketel One) and 15ml Creme de menthe. The first step is to add Bottom of Formall the ingredients into your shaker with plenty of ice. Then shake for as long as your arms will allow before straining the contents into a tumbler full of crushed ice. Finally garnish with a slice of orange and a mint leaf.
How to make a Valencia Summer and Mudslide
To create the perfect Valencia Summer cocktail, you will need 50ml Licor 43 Horchata, 50ml hot espresso, Almond milk foam and some cinnamon powder.
And if you want to make a Mudslide you will need 1 cup of ice, 1 ounce of Vodka, 1 ounce of Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua), 1 ounce of Irish Cream (Bailey’s), 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. You will then need to add some chocolate syrup and chocolate shavings for the perfect winter cocktail.
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photograph courtesy of Coole Swan