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Food & Wine devises Yucatecan cocktails from a ‘new favorite’ liqueur

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D’Aristi Xtabentún. Photo: Food & Wine

Food & Wine Magazine is calling D’Aristi Xtabentún — a honey-and-anise liqueur made in Mérida — a “new favorite party trick.”

D’Aristi Xtabentún is among the products produced by Casa D’Aristi, which is based in a hacienda in Col. Xmatkuil.

“D’Aristi Xtabentún is our hallmark product, ” the company posted on its Facebook page on Sunday. “The perfect mix of honey and anis and traditional and modern cultures makes it so iconic.”

A pair of cocktail columnists at Food & Wine agree.

The ancient Mayans produced a drink from the nectar of the local Xtabentún flower, a climbing vine native to the region. Today, the liqueur of the same name starts from a base of honey produced from that flower. The honey is fermented, then combined with Mexican rum and anisette.

“The result is sweet, aromatic, and incredibly compelling,” wrote Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy in a post that appeared Monday. “Fans of anise flavors will immediately appreciate the liqueur — if you like French pastis, Turkish raki, Greek ouzo, or even Peychaud’s bitters, odds are you’ll love Xtabentún. It’s rich with honey and weighty on the tongue, thus quite sweet on its own but beautiful in cocktails.”

They offer three cocktails that make use of D’Aristi Xtabentún’s best qualities.

The easy one is Ron y Anís. Since this liqueur is made with a rum base, the spirit is an obvious pairing, and a rich, dark rum plays beautifully with the Xtabentún’s honey and anise flavors, they write. “Think of this as a sophisticated anise-tinged Old Fashioned.”

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of aged dark rum (we’re using Mount Gay XO), 3/4 ounce D’Aristi Xtabentún, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup. Add a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a large lemon peel, twisting over the surface of the drink to spray its citrus oils across the cocktail.

The intermediate-level cocktail is the Xtabentún Paloma

“While the margarita is of course the cocktail most closely associated with Mexico, we’re equal fans of the Paloma — a simple drink of just tequila and grapefruit soda,” they write. “Since grapefruit and anise are an excellent match, we created a Paloma with Xtabentún, but swapping out the flavored soda for fresh grapefruit juice.”

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce of blanco tequila, an ounce of Xtabentún, an ounce of fresh grapefruit juice, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup. Shake all that up until very well-chilled, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Add two ounces of club soda, and garnish with a grapefruit slice.

Then they challenge readers with an advanced-level cocktail: Las Abejas

“To play up the strong honey flavors of Xtabentún, we devised a riff on the Bee’s Kees — a simple classic of gin, honey, and lemon,” the writers offer. “Herbal gin also picks up the anise notes of the liqueur, making this drink wonderfully aromatic and herbaceous, while still bright and approachable.”

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of gin (we’re using Beefeater), half an ounce of Xtabentún, 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 ounce of honey syrup (equal part honey and hot water, stirred until honey dissolves). Shake all that up until very well-chilled, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a half-moon slice of lemon.

Casa D’Aristi produces authentic, exotic and natural rum-based liqueurs at its home in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The company was founded in 1935 by the Aristi family.

Xtabentún may have its origin in balché, a ceremonial liquor produced by the Maya. The strong flavor did not appeal to the Spanish conquistadores, so they introduced anise and took away the tree bark and corn.

Casa D’Aristi’s small distillery in Mérida, has grown to include a portfolio of over 20 artisanal products, including rums, premium liqueurs and aguardientes, all made in their hacienda with locally sourced fruits, sugar cane, honey and spices.

See photos and read more from Food & Wine here.

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