This is the fourth 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 burst on the scene with “single note botanical” spirits. For our prior thoughts, see our reviews of the Lemon Balm, the Rose Geranium, and the Ginger.
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.
BroVo Lavender Liqueur
In this case, the “single note botanical” is the lavender. This is the famous purple flower originating in the Mediterranean but grown by gardeners everywhere. It is often used as fragrance in soap and other cleansers. It is also said to have some use in treating insomnia and depression as well as the oil having beneficial effects in treating some types of skin conditions (thanks again to the University of Maryland Medical Center).
As for broVo themselves, lavender was a natural fit for their self-proclaimed “more nose than palate” liqueur. The lavender is obtained from organic Washington farmers “Marv and Jud in the Ferndale area.”
Neat: try the spirit naked, we always say. The +L has the same dancing, pattering, light-stepped taste as the other spirits—this seems to be a signature characteristic of broVo. And like their other spirits, they definitely achieved the aroma-over-taste as the essence rises immediately when the bottle is uncorked. We are quite grateful to report that this liqueur does not smell like soap! Indeed, it has an earthy, herbal aroma that’s hard to place… utterly unlike air fresheners or anything else we’re trained to think of with lavender. (This is an especial compliment because we ourselves have tried to make a lavender-infused liqueur at one time and our “product” smelled exactly like soap.) The taste is very lightly sweetened with a touch of bitterness on the finish. A little ice opens up more of the lavender flavors. Again, we agree that these are not designed to be consumed straight and need to be in a cocktail. So we proceed on to…
Fifty First Dates Baby Maker: this is a cocktail recommended by broVo (in a series of 50 First Date cocktails)… a quite upper-class cocktail calling for 2 parts pear vodka (we used Grey Goose Poire), 1 part broVo Lavender, 1 part elderflower liqueur (we used St Germain), and 1 part crème de violette (we used Crème Yvette). The pear and the lavender are quite exciting… we would say erotically scented, as all good first dates are. The taste is light and sweet—it’s a stiff drink but examining the recipe it says “top with bubbles,” which we interpreted as club soda. This lightened the alcohol burn (the burn we credit to the Grey Goose) and became more pleasing. This is a wonderful cocktail that would do well on any upscale menu. It is exactly the kind of drink to order since the ingredients are unlikely to be found in most home bars.
60 Days of Summer Blooming Orchid: another sophisticated cocktail calling for 3 parts grapefruit vodka (we used Finlandia), 2 parts broVo Lavender, 1 part peach schnapps (we used Leopold Brothers Rocky Mountain peach, a less sweet substitute) and a “splash” of lime juice. Wait… what? A grapefruit, a peach, a lime, and a flower… stir up and consume? It sounds like some kind of Tim Burton cocktail. A bit terrified… we mixed it up. An… it’s fabulous. Sleek, sexy… it’s the stunning black cocktail dress on the slinky model sidling up to the movie star. One would have to be talked into this mixture but, in a designer setting, it succeeds brilliantly. And we can say that the lavender punctuates the aroma… as proof we re-made the cocktail without the lavender and replaced it with the more prosaic triple sec. The result wasn’t even close. Comparing the two, we can say that the broVo makes a cocktail classy; it turned what would otherwise be a candy-style, low-rent drink into something that can be ordered with dignity. The broVo truly is a key ingredient.
Flowers in the City: Saying with some conviction that +L puts the designer in “designer cocktails,” we wanted to try some drinks that one would more likely be able to make with ingredients on hand. We tried a Cosmopolitan cocktail replacing the triple-sec for broVo Lavender. This didn’t work out at all well… something was off. Experimenting more, we mixed just cranberry juice with +L and the result was… well, kind of a lime. Somehow, Tart Fruit + broVo Lavender = Lime. We free styled a bit with blueberry vodka and maraschino liqueur… not good. We report this as a finding since it would seem like this would go well in a berry setting and that’s not entirely clear to us. This is a technically demanding liqueur that doesn’t automatically slide into tart flavors. Use with care.
Flowers in London: It’s always a bit of an adventure to put an herbal liqueur into gin. But we wanted to see how the broVo Lavender would dress up a garden variety Gin and Tonic. We used 2 parts Beefeater Gin to 1 part broVo Lavender and topped with “bubbles” (this time, tonic water). It was good… the lavender brought a refreshing breath to the drink… that said, we wonder if all we did was turn a traditional London Dry gin into a more modern floral gin. Regardless, a breath of lavender worked nicely with the drink. For the gin-haters in our crowd, they admitted that the +L made gin drinkable.
Verdict: broVo Lavender liqueur is a not a toy and not for the amateur. While a lot of spirits are a relatively harmless and are a multi-purpose tool that can be used interchangeably in many different settings, the +L is a very serious, long-range military sniper rifle—deadly accurate and valuable in the proper setting but completely unwanted in pitched combat in the hands of poorly trained foot soldiers. We think this liqueur will be a hit in every upscale bar but a potential bewilderment in the kitchen… though we note the recipes offered on the broVo website worked gorgeously, is something we would specifically return to a bar to order, and were far superior to our own free-styling cocktailing.