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When traveling abroad, I agree with Rick Steves’ philosophy: Drink whatever the locals are drinking.
That’s how I got acquainted with Becherovka, a Czech liqueur I tried while visiting Prague and Brno in 2019. It’s become one of my favorites to pair with autumn weather. First introduced in 1807, Becherovka is a secret blend of 20 herbs and spices that was originally sought out and lauded for its medicinal benefits. The recipe is said to have remained the same since its inception.
Locals in the Czech Republic drink Becherovka straight as a shot, allowing the spicy character with notes of clove, cinnamon and star anise to envelope the senses. Upon first taste, it’s tempting to liken the pungent liqueur to Rumple Mintz or Fireball, but those are lazy comparisons. Though it’s more bitter, Becherovka is also far more delightful to imbibe, particularly as a digestif or nightcap and especially this time of year since the flavor is reminiscent of the holidays.
The bottle of Becherovka stays in my freezer and I usually sip it chilled in a miniature piece of stemware, but bartenders in the Czech Republic and beyond use it in cocktails. Black Angel’s, one of Prague’s best mixology bars, features Becherovka in a James Bond-inspired martini with vodka, Lillet Blanc and peach bitters, among other recipes.
Closer to home, Restaurant Olivia in Denver just added a fall Negroni featuring the liqueur to its menu. Made with The Family Jones’ gin, sweet and dry vermouth, house-made huckleberry bitters, spiced orange bitters and Becherovka, co-owner Austin Carson describes the cocktail as a spirit-forward negroni that finishes with fall flavors.
Carson said he likes to use Becherovka as a “seasoning” element because of its strong character, and he touted its versatility. He suggested adding it to a classic Sidecar or Cosmopolitan for extra spice.
“It’s a little higher-proof, it’s herbal forward with fun autumnal spices,” he said. “Especially after dinner, it’s a wonderful digestif. Enjoy this in lieu of your favorite amaro or grappa. It’s a fun way to finish the dining experience.”
Look for Becherovka’s signature green bottle at bars and liquor stores around Colorado.
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