Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Embrace Crappy Gin Liqueurs.
You may have noticed by now, but we seem to be in the middle of a veritable deluge of cheap, hella sweet gin liqueurs swarming the aisles of every supermarket out there; whether it’s Asda, Aldi, or the discounters like B&M, unique gin liqueur flavours are a commonplace sight in the alcohol sections of every retailer that sells food and drink. The only consistency that I’ve seen is a noticeable preference for a liquid variant of some of our favourite sweet treats – B&M alone sells Lemon Drizzle, Cherry Bakewell, and Battenberg Gin Liqueurs. Given the ‘liquid calories don’t count’ mentality that we Brits tend to favour, I can’t say I’m overly surprised! I only wished they tasted more like the actual thing; I’ve tried both the Battenberg and Cherry Bakewell Liqueurs and frankly, they’re a poor imitation of something near and dear to my heart. Yes, I’m talking about cake. I have emotional issues, okay? No judgey.
The disappointment alone was enough to get them relegated to the dark corners of our bar shelves, but with bar space becoming an increasingly precious commodity I decided it was time to try and find a purpose for some of these Gin Liqueurs.
The latest addition to the ‘must have, but probably going to disappoint’ liqueur collection was the Crème Egg Gin Liqueur courtesy of B&M. Yeah, on some level I knew it wasn’t going to taste like the real thing (the limited release of which is something else I’m unhappy about, but don’t get me started on it!) but I’m a sucker for potential. Can you imagine what a really good Crème Egg Gin Liqueur would taste like? My god, I would sink ships to get my hands on that. But, like so many before it, it was not to be.
The real question was, could we make it usable? Even better, could we use it with another disappointing ingredient to make something wonderful? Enter, the Crème Almond Martini!
At just 3 ingredients, it’s an easily made but INCREDIBLY delicious drink, and it utilises 2 I-wish-they-weren’t-so-disappointing drinks to create something beautiful. That’s cocktail maths at its finest in my opinion.
You all probably know by now that I hold Tia Maria – as basic bitch as it is – in high regard, so it may come as a surprise to find out that the other lacklustre ingredient is the Almande Baileys Cream Liqueur. I know right, it had all the hallmarks of being something incredible! Sadly, it’s just a bit thin, wishy washy and meh overall – but if you mix it with something else you begin to realise it’s true potential.
For a purely alcoholic drink, there’s very little in the way of strong aftertastes or otherwise ‘nastiness’ that you might expect. I imagine this is largely down to the sugary nature of the ingredients but it’s not too sweet either. Each flavour is complementary and the coffee and almond together is SO akin to a non-dairy latte, it could frankly be a dangerous combination if you’re working at home. Need a caffeine fix? Cool, coffee can work that. Need an extra AF caffeine fix or having a particularly shitty day at work? Hooboy, now you’re in the danger zone! N.B: I am not advocating drinking on the job. Just coffee is okay, but let’s save the booze for after work, m’kay?
The Martini has a creamy smooth mouthfeel – complete with coffee foam, hellllloooo there – and with the coffee aroma it’s just almost too tantalising to pass up. It’s not all coffee and almond though, the fondant element of crème egg does come through to add a gradual sweetness to the experience. It’s never too much for me (but what is? Don’t answer that…) and honestly just makes the whole damn thing taste even more like a Starbucks/Costa coffee. Sure, the coffee itself is never going to be anything to write home about (No disrespect Tia Maria/Starbucks, you know you both hold a dear place in my heart) but when you have the coffee with syrup, chai and other accoutrements it becomes this entirely different yet similar satisfying thing that can’t really be explained, and that’s the exact kind of experience you get with the Crème Almond Martini. Is it technically impressive? Nope. Are the ingredients top shelf? Again, no. Does it create something magnificent? Yes yes, a thousand times yes. It’s just fun and exciting, like a trip to the fair and a night out all in one. What’s not to love? It’s just delightful, and if you find yourself with some liqueurs that you just can’t bring yourself to finish as is, I would implore you to think about what else you can do with them. Think about their flavour profiles first; are they fruit-based? Okay, mix it with other fruit based spirits or hard liquor like brandy. Cream based? Something like this works wonders, and I bet it’s adaptable as hell.
So, go out there and make it your own if you can’t recreate it as is – it’ll be a blast either way!
♦ 2 ½ ounces Almond Baileys (or Almande Baileys if you’re feeling all fancy)
♦ 1 ½ ounces Tia Maria
♦ 1 ounce Brambles Crème Egg Gin Liqueur
Shake the ingredients together with ice and then strain into a chilled glass.