This is the fifth (and final) 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. Recall these are spirits that 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 our prior write-ups for the lemon balm, rose geranium, ginger, and lavender.
BroVo Douglas Fir
Yes, the +DF liqueur appears to be one of the very few tree-flavored liqueurs in the world. This is the Douglas Fir, named for David Douglas of Scotland who introduced it for cultivation in 1826. It is abundant in the North American Pacific Northwest even becoming the state tree of Oregon. It grows to immense heights up to 300 feet. It has a history of being used for building but little in the way of culinary pursuits. (Thank you to the Canadian Douglas Fir website.)
Neat: This was our last date with broVo spirits so we took full advantage putting the liqueur through every position we could think of. But first—as always—we try it in the buff all by itself in a glass. We’ll be honest, we were scared this would smell (and maybe taste) like we were drinking Pine-Sol… but that’s not the case. There is a pine-scent but it’s light enough and sweet enough to achieve that broVo delicacy that we’ve been noting all along our tour. Of all the liqueurs, this is the one most eligible for drinking straight. “It can definitely put you in a holiday mood,” chimed in one our elite. This was so good straight, we simply dropped it into water 3 parts to 1. This makes a “drink” of about 10% alcohol or 5 proof… a bit more than a beer. Just in water, this drink tasted like… well, good water. The kind of water you get at an up-scale restaurant where they drop in a lemon or a cucumber slice. This is a “skinny drink”… and one that actually tastes good. Probably one of the better lunchtime and outdoor cocktails we can think and just about the easiest thing on earth to make.
Douglas Fir and Bubbles: One of the simplest cocktails we’ve seen recommended from broVo Spirits was simply 2oz +DF topped with champagne (“bubbles”) in a flute glass. Well, we got kinda dirty with this one… we did not use a pedigreed champagne with a good upbringing. We went to the other side of the tracks and got Cook’s… one of the world’s cheapest champagnes. If the +DF can make bad champagne good (just like a red dress and diamond necklace on Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman), then we’ve got a winner. Just as predicted, Cook’s on its own failed to impress and we’ll leave it at that. Mixing a couple ounces Douglas Fir did indeed make pretty bad champagne taste rather good. We feel this would be particularly recommended for a Sunday brunch in the Pacific Northwest instead of the Mimosa—which, after all, you can get at any 2-bit hotel Sunday breakfast.
Sidney: The website called this a Sidney but really it looks to us like a wet Martini dressed up with liqueur. It calls for 1.5 oz of gin, 1 oz Douglas Fir, and 1.2 oz of vermouth. Gin has been an adventure on our botanical tour all along and mixing a fir tree with juniper was the most daring of all… the results were fascinating. For the novice, this particular cocktail sucked all the “gasoline taste” (as one person uttered) out of what people normally associate with a Martini. It becomes light, sweet, herbal and delicious. However, for the gin enthusiast the drink does suck the life out of the gin. It would be hard to appreciate the subtleties of different styles and recipes of gin in this kind of cocktail. But given the new floral styles of gin and the lighter proofs available on the market, we speculate this would have very wide appeal. However, we caution: do not serve to the gin snob.
Rickey: Another odd take on a classic called for 1.5oz of tequila (we used El Tesoro Blanco), 1oz of Douglas Fir, and 1oz of lime juice with a dash of bitters (we used blood orange bitters). The results were very much like the Martini experiment above… it made tequila taste better for the novitiate. It took away much of the heavy-handed agave and partnered well with the lime. But like above, it’s very difficult to appreciate the nuances of different tequilas for the agave snob.
Defrocked Manhattan: One of the greatest names of all cocktails, we had to try this. And if Douglas Fir could move easily from the loving arms of gin, to tequila, to whiskey then it would be a world-wise liqueur indeed. The Douglas Fir most definitely softened the bourbon and the herbal character was surprisingly complementary to the whiskey. It did not convert the whiskey skeptics entirely but it did soften the blow. For those who do like Manhattan cocktails—it will not replace that classic nor the Old Fashioned nor that most blessed of all cocktails, the Sazerac—but it is interesting and different.
Verdict: broVo Douglas Fir was, in our opinion, the most successful of the liqueurs. It slipped well into almost anything with great versatility. It was very much like the person your parents always wanted you to date: the nice, next-door type that you could take to any party and would always show well and make you better. All in all, we’d have to say this spirit shines best in an all-natural setting dressed casually in water.