I get a fair number of samples these days from liquor and liqueur makers who would like me to try their wares, and write about them. Sometimes I know a particular bottle is coming, and I’m all agog with anticipation. And some of these surprise me by being a little (or a lot) disappointing. Sometimes a bottle appears out of the blue, which is always a nice surprise. And sometimes I get a bottle that just makes me go,
What the heck is this stuff?
And sometimes, these last kind of bottles can be the biggest and best surprises. This post is about one of those surprises: Castries Creme Liqueur.
Castries is a rum-based liqueur from the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. The main player in its ingredient list is roasted peanuts, which immediately took me aback. Peanut is not a flavor I associate with drinks—with drinking, sure, but not in drinks. I love a good bowl of salty spanish peanuts with my Pegu, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around a peanut flavored alcoholic beverage. Still, the bottle is lovely, if a bit too tall to fit in my cabinet conveniently, and I pondered what to do with it.
My first thought went to desert drinks, and there are several recipes on Castries’ website that fit that bill. Maggi’s favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and they have a recipe on the site with the same name, minus the brand.
- 2 oz. Castries Crème
- 1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur (I use the white version)
- 1 oz. Stoli Vanil vodka
Take Hershey’s chocolate syrup in the squeeze bottle and go Jackson Pollack on a cocktail glass as shown to right. Combine above ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to both chill and mix thoroughly. Strain gently into the glass.
Now here’s the surprise. I was expecting a sticky, sweet, candy-like taste to this cocktail. No way. What you have here is an elegant, lightly sweet after dinner cocktail in which the peanut element is a harmonious accompaniment, rather than an in your face solo. It’s a delicious drink. Maggi, who usually prefers wine after dinner, does not complain when I emerge from the Basement Bar with one of these!
Now, one really good drink from a specialty bottle is usually good enough for me to be more than happy. But I was so surprised (remember) by how good this stuff was in the Peanutbutter Cup, I thought I’d take a shot at one of the regular cocktails on their site. For this one, I went with a very simple concoction named The Phantom. It is nothing but a two to one ratio of Castries to cognac, served on the rocks with a sprinkle of nutmeg over the top.
Again, I was surprised at this drink too. It’s a little sweeter than I usually like in a cocktail, but unlike most sweet drinks, you can still get a full appreciation of the flavors from the liquors involved. Whatever rum Castries uses ain’t bad at all, and the vanilla is certainly of better quality than the Stoli Vanil’s in the Peanutbutter Cup. I’m not sure about the other ingredients in Castries, but at least one they claim is brown sugar. I can see this, but I’d like to know what they do with it, because the sweet is more caramel than molasses. Regardless, it marries far better than I expected (more surprises) with the cognac, and makes for a pleasant cocktail if you are in the mood for a gentler feeling drink.
Castries is available at retail in only a handful of eastern states from Georgia to New York, but it is carried online at Astor Wine and Spirits should you want to give it a whirl and see if it surprises you as much as me.