The first time we had to stock up for a Tiki Party I was introduced to a whole new world of liqueurs and flavorings that I’d never heard of. One of the those items was Creme de Noyaux. It’s an almond “flavored” liqueur (as far as I know, no actually almonds are used, just pits from apricots) that pops up in a variety of drinks in the tiki world. After we actually started experimenting with it my husband became enamored with it and now we own two large bottles of the stuff. So… I’m trying to think up drinks that will use it up and make some space for other bottles. No need to crowd the shelves with TWO of these guys when a bottle of Stranahans could easily take its place.
Joining my ever growing collection of citrus at the house this week is a bag of tangelos we harvested out of our own backyard. Long thought of as a dead plant that needed to be removed, all the crazy rains Los Angeles received recently ignited the spark of life back into this thing and we have now got a tree heavy with fruit. I’d never tried a tangelo before, so being the cautious type.. I gave a bag of them to a friend as a ‘gift’ and told them to get back to me quickly on how they tasted. The most important thing was that they came back alive the next day and I had not produced a big ol’ tree of poison. The verdict was that they were really sour but very juicy, perfect they told me for marmalade. Well, sour is fantastic for drinks, not on my toast, and then I decided to try and marry this flavor with the Creme de Noyaux.
When I cut my tangelo open the first thing I realized was that my idea of sour and my friend’s idea of sour lived in two separate worlds. These were slightly sweet and slightly sour, and crazy juicy. Cutting one open just poured liquid out. Trying to formulate a drink recipe out of this took a couple turns, and I think that I might even candy some jalapeÃ±os next time and add to this, just because I think it could use some heat. But anyways, I think that I was able to make a combination of flavors that was light, refreshing, and used up some Creme de Noyaux (albeit not nearly enough).
2-1/2 oz of light rum
1/2 oz of Creme de Noyaux
4 tangelo slices (cut about 1/4″ thick)
1 tsp of honey (I used some local orange blossom honey)
2 dashes of bitters
1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
one tangelo wheel for garnish
Muddle together the tangelo slices and the honey. On top of the muddled mixture, fill mixing glass 2/3 way with ice and add rum, Creme de Noyaux, bitters and lime juice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Run a lighter over both sides of the tangelo wheel and drop into the glass.
I know, RUM. Again! These are all mixed drinks though, not straight rum. I think I need to take one of the Rum education classes at the Cana Rum bar here in L.A. to really get to know and appreciate rum. And why the Squirrel name? Creme de Noyaux drinks I learned are referred to as pink squirrel drinks. I don’t necessarily know if this fits the category, but I like the name so I’ll stick with it.
Creme de Noyeau is supposed to be a peach kernel infusion. Since this has been deemed a risk (molecules that produce cyanide are released), the better brands in France (like Noyeau de Poissey) make a distillate of it. All of the common ones in the U.S. like Leroux are made with flavor extracts (probably almond) and are probably completely artificial.
There are ways of making your own Creme de Noyeau as a ratafia (see Matt Rowley’s post on his Whiskey Forge Blog). It takes a lot of peaches to make the infusion (only the kernel inside the pit/stone is used), so having access to pastry chefs at restaurants will allow you to make more than a small bottle.
And there are plenty of drinks that pre-date the Pink Squirrel. Bariana (old French cocktail book) is but one resource and they use the stuff liberally as dashes through out the book.
THANK YOU for the info! Now I need to find a copy of that book. Also, if people have successfully made their own Creme de Noyaux without poisoning themselves, and more importantly having it taste good, then this is definitely right up my alley. And I know some generous chefs…
I got to try Matt Rowley’s at Tales of the Cocktail this past summer at it was one of the tastiest things I had that week. Read his post here: http://matthew-rowley.blogspot.com/2008/11/if-i-had-hammer-ratafia-aux-noyau-just.html
Not sure what the toxicity is but it would take a lot of the infusion to do any harm; the FDA or TTB frowns on its use at all regardless of the concentration of amygdalin (the molecule that breaks down into sugar + cyanide).
Bariana can be purchased on Amazon and there’s a free version of the PDF (might be in French though) at http://www.euvs.org/en/collection/book/bariana-recueil-pratique-de-toutes-boissons-americaines-et-anglaises