What the heck is Tuaca?
Tuaca is one of those bottles that lots of bars have gathering dust because few bartenders, and even fewer customers, know what it is. Which is a shame. I class Tuaca with others like Lillet Blanc in my list of favorite, most personally used, utterly obscure liqueurs.
Tuaca is a light, aromatic liquid that is redolent of oranges and vanilla, but isn’t overpowering in any flavor. You can drink it straight, chilled or on the rocks, if you like. I personally don’t, but that’s because if I can’t play with ingredients, I usually end up with wine.
What Tuaca doesdo is give me the opportunity to talk about a fairly rare phenomenon: The House Standard Recipe.
Now, every liquor and liqueur on the market, Tuaca is no exception, has a whole list of what SeanMike, over at The Scofflaw’s Den, calls
What I consider a marketing cocktail involves the following aspects: It usually has a cute name that doesn’t identify the drink well (or at all), it’s made using very specific ingredients (or, at least, main liquor) by brand, and it is extremely unlikely that it is in any well-used bartending guides. A marketing cocktail may, over the years, become a mainstay of the cocktail world, but right now is used for advertisers to say: “Look at these cool drinks we make with our great stuff in exotic, cool bars”, for people to say: “It’s so cool to drink this drink” and for bartenders to say: “What the #%*! did you just order?!” and curse marketers.
I’ve seen it argued that these Marketing Cocktails are a good source for recipes, since who knows a brand better than its maker? And it is in their interest to showcase the brand in the best possible tasting drinks. My personal experience doesn’t really bear that out. I find no more good recipes among Marketing Cocktails than elsewhere, and sometimes less.
What I am talking about are House Standard Recipes. This is a variant on a classic, oft ordered cocktail. The variant is specific to a high-end restaurant or hotel or bar or often a chain thereof. These are not part of a menu of cocktails, usually sponsored by distillers, like you see at Applebee’s or some such. This is just what you get when you order a
real drink at this particular place.
The first of these that I wrote about, long ago, was the Ritz Stinger. The simple addition of Cointreau to a base Stinger makes a great improvement.
The one I want to write about here is even more useful, and it’s why I keep Tuaca on hand all the time: The Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Sidecar.
I like a good Sidecar, and Maggi loves them. She usually doesn’t order them when we are out, because most bartenders don’t make them as well as I do. Or like I do, at least. But she always orders them at Ruth’s. Ruth’s ordains, apparently nationwide, that Sidecars shall be made with Tuaca.
- 2 parts decent Cognac
- 1 part Cointreau
- 1 part Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 part Tuaca
Combine in shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a twist of lemon.
If you love Sidecars, you owe it to yourself to try one this way. If you think Sidecars are
Meh, try one this way too. You’ll thank me, and you’ll thank Ruth. And you’ll buy a bottle of Tuaca.
I will make one niggly comment about Tuaca. They need to consider changing their stopper on the bottle. I usually like cork stoppers; they have a rustic feel that often seems appropriate. It certainly is for a luscious old world liqueur like Tuaca. But the corks they use are mediocre at best. My first bottle’s cork snapped off less than a third of the way through the bottle, and I had to resort to a plastic lever-operated stopper. The latest bottle I got through the mail, and the unopened bottle had leaked just a tiny bit. The booze is fine, and virtually all there, buy the neck of the bottle was just slightly sticky. It sure ain’t gonna stop me from buying the product, but I just wish I could trust the cork.
UPDATE: By the way, since I wrote this post, I’ve done a series I call The Four Gospels of the Cocktail. The Sidecar is what I consider to be The Gospel of Brandy.