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Becherovka Herbal Liqueur

The Czech spirit with a secret, time-tested recipe

by David Graver in Food + Drink on 10 April 2014

BecherovkaHerbal.jpg

There's nothing new about Becherovka—and that's its great value. Since way back in 1807, the recipe has remained steadfast and true, continuing to define many late nights for locals and tourists alike in the Czech Republic and beyond. Becherovka is part of the bitters family, yet this herbal liqueur avoids the medicinal flavors most tend to put forward; instead, cloves and cinnamon tingle atop the tongue with every sip. It's light, but complex and one of the easiest digestifs to sip casually. Produced in Karlovy Vary (western Bohemia, Czech Republic), the tipple's 32 herbs and spices are mostly are grown around the area—but only two people know the precise, historical recipe. (Creator Josef Vitus Becher, often cited as both a spice trader and a pharmacist, experimented with the production of bitters and other alcohol and ultimately Becherovka was born.) Still rare in many parts of the world, it's worth tracking down for its balanced bitters blend.

Becherovka is traditionally consumed chilled and neat, but adding it to tonic water creates an equally popular drink, called the Beton. Much the same way gin interacts with tonic, the floral and herbal elements are brought to life. At 38% abv, it's also less potent, making it a perfect late-night complement.

Becherovka is available online for $20.

Photos by David Graver

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