This is the second part of our tour through the liqueurs currently available from broVo Spirits: the business of two young women (Erin Brophy and Mhari Voelsgen whose names combine in a kenning to make the name of the company) who cashed out their 401(k) accounts and bust on the scene with “single note botanical” spirits.
We’re told their spirits target the sophisticated cocktail crowd and tend to find their audience with women rather than men. It’s a new category, they say, very light on the sweetness and no glycerin.
See the first part featuring their lemon balm liqueur here.
broVo Rose Geranium Liqueur
We move on to the +RG liqueur. Rose Gernaium is a shrub whose leaves and oil are used in aromatherapy as an antidepressant and a relaxant. It is also said to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities (thank you to Essential Oils). broVo gathers the herb from organic farms within Washington State (though the herb itself is said to have originated in southern Africa).
Neat: getting to know this spirit begins with the aroma. It smells intensely and can fill a room when you open the bottle. It smells of rose water and lavender—almost more of a perfume than a spirit. It has what we’re coming to know as the dancing broVo lightness on the tongue with just the barest whisper of sweetness. Dropping a little ice in the glass actually hurts the spirit, introducing a bitterness on the aftertaste (which is interesting for a liqueur designed to go into cocktails, which are often chilled). As before with the lemon balm, we think this is a liqueur that demands to be mixed with cocktails and probably not to be taken on its own.
English Rose: broVo recommends a cocktail called the English Rose, which calls for 1½ oz of vodka with 1 oz of +RG shaken on ice (!) and served. We did exactly that with our trusty Pacific Northwest Liquid Vodka. Result: this is a great drink for those who like Vodka Martinis and similarly styled cocktails. It’s quite refreshing, laser-focused, and cuts very sharp, abstract flavors. In our minds, it needed just a breath of citrus and sweet. A dash of fresh lemon zest would probably do the trick but we used the dashiest dash of sweet-and-sour (good, homemade stuff) and this brought out exactly what we hoped in the cocktail. Big win for all those who like floral drinks.
New England Rose: inspired by the English Rose, we decided to take an adventure into tart and sweetened berries—in this case, cranberry. We used a 1½ oz of gin (Beefeater) along with equal parts of cranberry juice (we tried pomegranate later and liked it equally as much) and 1 oz of broVo Rose Geranium and called it the New England Rose. This turned out to be the hit of the night. With representatives firmly in the vodka cranberry group and anti-gin Martini group, the skeptics were turned completely around with what turned out to be a floral infused berry drink. It was elegant; it was crisp; it was the stunning debutante coming out on a moonlit night. It’s also pink, which makes it problematic for the gentlemen. But bottom line, if you have something growing out of the ground reddish-purple, you mix it with something clear and distilled, and toss in some +RG why you have yourself a winner.
Stagged Rose: this liqueur works so well in any kind of white spirit and tart mixer we could come up with that we decided to try and do something contra-indicated. We pulled out Red Stag Black Cherry bourbon, thinking that if the +RG can mix with an aged, flavored whiskey, it can mix with anything. We made it as a kind of faux Manhattan with 2 parts whiskey and 1 part broVo Rose Geranium (no bitters). Right out of the gate, this made a drink where you wouldn’t guess in a million years what was in it. The aroma was almost like a perfumed apple. But what we ended up doing was making one of the world’s most excellent shooters. The +RG actually settles the wild sweetness of the Red Stag to the point it actually becomes rather tasty. For a group that eschews shooters, there were actually calls to ice another round and throw it back.
Verdict: once again, we’re at a point where we’re saying these are excellent spirits for mixologists. It begs for experimentation and has unique flavors and properties that tend to make other spirits better. Where the Lemon Balm was a piccolo in the symphony, the Rose Geranium is more like a violin—we don’t actually like listening to violins all alone even if they sound rather nice but they are essential and memorable in any symphony.