In the ever-vast world of liqueurs there has always been one bottle that stood out to me like a crown resting on a pillow; Chambord. The first time I saw this bottle was in my mixology classes in Toronto. Before I even knew what was in the bottle, I wanted to have a taste. The round plum shaped bottle, deep ruby to an almost royal purple in colour, and with gold encased lettering drew the attention of my eyes like no other bottle had before. Then when I heard it was a raspberry liqueur my mouth began to salivate, as raspberries have been my favourite of the berries since I was a child. Once I finally got to try this delicate French liqueur, the taste lived up to what the bottle was inviting me in to try. It was luxurious, simple, and yet all the while very complex.
Before this liqueur makes it onto your tongue, your nose will pick up aromas of a blackberry and raspberry jam, slight hints of vanilla, currants, and even chocolate. The fruit aromas are of cooked down, sweetened fruit which matches the taste on the palate. Its sweetness, acidity, and alcohol all balance harmoniously to come together for a velvet feeling on the tongue with a long finish that has you wanting more.
After doing some research into the liqueur, it is of no surprise why this liqueur is so delicate and interesting. Crafted in the French province of Chambord in the Loire Valley, it is said to be based on a raspberry liqueur that was made in the region in the late 1600’s. Rumor has it, that it was served to Louis XIV during one of his visits to the Chateau de Chambord. It truly is a liqueur worthy of royalty. But, as it says on the Chambord website, it is not the royal’s taste buds that matters, it is yours. The website also breaks down the production of the liqueur into three simplified steps. I’m sure there is more detail to each step, but the simplicity of the whole production is quite elegant.
First, the freshest raspberries and blackberries are chosen to be picked, squeezed, and soaked in a mixture of French spirits and let to sit for one month. After the month has passed, more French spirits are added, and after another two weeks the infusion is complete. Then they press the fruit, capture the natural juices and sugars, and voila! A completed velvety base to the liqueur.
The second step is blending the velvety base with extracts of black raspberry, blackcurrants, French Cognac, sweet Madagascan vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey, and a mixture of herbs and spices. This is left to sit again, and this is where the bottle begins to develop all of its aromas and palate flavours. Lastly, a master blender balances the liqueur using a 300-year-old tradition to make sure the bottle is perfect.
The beauty of this liqueur is how versatile it is when crafting cocktails with it. It can be used to mix with champagne for a nice lunchtime cocktail, to a summer time refresher with some soda water and some citrus juice, all the way to being used in martinis for a complex dinner cocktail. My two favourite drinks that have Chambord in it are a French Martini and a Chambord Cosmo. Both martinis, yet, distinctively different in aromas and taste. Here is a list of the ingredients and how to make each:
2oz Pineapple juice
Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until juice creates a froth, and the shaker has frosted from chilling. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with raspberries and/or blackberries and a lemon twist. Serve immediately and enjoy while cold.
0.5oz Triple Sec (or any other orange liqueur)
1oz Cranberry juice
Squeeze of fresh lime
Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until the shaker has frosted from the chilled ingredients. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange slice. If you really want to get fancy, flame the orange zest before dropping into the drink. (Ask me to show you how to do this if you have not done it before!) Serve immediately and drink it while it is cold.
Here is a photo of both of these drinks, as I made them for a recent Sunday Sippers night featuring Chambord as the liqueur option. The Chambord Cosmo is on the left and the French Martini on the right:
Hopefully after reading this you have an interest in trying this wonderful liqueur. Until next time, enjoy the world of liqueurs and spirits and always remember to enjoy them responsibly!