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Cocktail Modifiers Then and Now

This post is sponsored by PAMA pomegranate liqueur and written by me. 

In a previous post I tried to come up with a definition of a modifier, finding that others didn't match my expectations. I proposed the following: A modifier is a cocktail ingredient, usually alcoholic and typically a fortified wine or a liqueur, that both softens the base spirit and adds flavor to the drink. 

In-demand modifiers change over time. After the original cocktail (spirit, sugar, water, bitters) was created, the modifiers orange curacao, absinthe, and maraschino liqueur created the new categories of "improved" and "fancy" cocktails. These three modifiers were all the rage in Jerry Thomas' day. And all three of them are very much back in fashion today. 

In the later 1800s, vermouth became a popular modifier in America, and that lead to the creation of the two most famous cocktails, the Manhattan and the Martini (as well as the Martinez and Brooklyn and other derivatives of each).  

Ancient liqueurs like Chartreuse and Benedictine popped up from time to time, and calls for orange curacao morphed into calls for triple sec - a drier orange liqueur with a more neutral spirit base. Other vintage modifiers mentioned here and there in classic cocktails include Cherry Heering, Drambuie, creme de cassis, and Strega.

Fast-forward many years and the modifiers-of-the-moment change quite a bit. In the 1960s through to the late 1990s liqueurs (many of them artificially flavored) like Chambord, Galliano, sloe gin, creme de menthe, Frangelico, peach schnapps, Midori, and Southern Comfort ruled the day. 

In the early 2000s, apple, watermelon, raspberry, and other fruity flavors took over in derivatives of the Appletini and Cosmopolitan. 

And that brings us into modern times and the classic cocktail revival. 

In the attempt to recreate vintage cocktails, some liqueurs no longer on the market were recreated. These include creme de violette, Creme Yvette, pimento dram, Batavia arrack, and Swedish punsch. 

Currently with the craze for "brown, bitter, and stirred" cocktails Italian modifiers are very much in fashion. These include Campari, Aperol, a wealth of new vermouths and other fortified wines, and all the bitter amari including Averna, Fernet-Branca, Zucca, Amaro Nonino, etc. 

In the last decade we've also seen many new modifiers come onto the market, including HUM, St. Germain, SNAP/ROOT, Solerno, Domaine de Canton, and of course PAMA. 

Many of these modifiers have something in common: they are made from hard-to-capture flavors including elderflower, ginger, blood orange, and pomegranate. Fresh versions of these flavors have existed (ginger beer, grenadine, blood orange juice), but these liqueurs give us shelf-stable modifiers to use in our drinks. 

Now let's here PAMA's take on the versatility of their product: 

PAMA is a versatile liqueur and can easily mix with all families of spirits. PAMA is a versatile cocktail ingredient that mixes with whiskey, rum and brandy equally well as it mixes with vodka, gin and tequila. Providing a delicately balanced sweet-tart flavor, PAMA brightens cocktails and elevates them from the everyday to modern classics.

Bird in the handA BIRD IN THE HAND

Glass: Tiki Mug
Garnish: Pineapple Leaf, Cherry and Orange Wheel

1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz. Spiced Rum
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. Lime Juice
1 oz. Pineapple Juice
Dash Simple Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into mug, fill with crushed ice, stir and top with more crushed ice.


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