"A distinct enclave, linked more to the sea than the continent, a fragile society with a strong sense of solidarity and a deep territorial attachment." -Renato Cárdenas (Historian at the National Library responsible for the Chiloé archive)
While the District of Columbia's permissive liquor laws mean access to numerous spirits from around the world, I could not find Licor de Oro (Golden Liquor). As it originates from the island of Chiloé in the lake region of Patagonia and is mainly produced for local consumption, I wasn't too surprised. However, I've read about the liquor, seen some recipes, and I came up with this version. I'm hoping to find out whether this recipe is similar to the real thing when my wife, Sarah, and I visit in December 2021.
Licor de Oro Recipe:
-250 ml vodka or pisco
-3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 oz lemon juice
-Pinch of saffron
-4 cloves crushed
-3 1-inch strips of lemon zest
-200 ml whole milk
-Whisk together the alcohol, vanilla, water, sugar, and lemon juice until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a large wide-mouth mason jar.
-Add the saffron, cloves, lemon zest, and whole milk. Gently stir and seal.
-Shake gently once a day for 7 days. The milk will curdle, float on the top, and look very unappealing. However, the milk clarifies the Licor de Oro.
-On the seventh day, pour the licor de oro through a fine mesh strainer and then strain it through a coffee filter.
-Pour into a clean mason jar and store in the fridge.
Licor de Oro gets its distinctive flavor and color from the saffron. The hints of vanilla and lemon pair well with the saffron. The milk helped clarify the spirit. After a week steeping, which allowed the flavors to meld, and straining away the curdled milk, the resulting spirit is wonderful.
You can experiment with Licor de Oro in a number of ways. Replace it in cocktails that call for white aromatic wines. Use it in a spritzer.
THIRST AND HUNGER
Twist on a Classic: Corpse Reviver #2
I've never actually made the original Corpse Reviver #2. I had it once at a bar and loved it. A primary component of the drink is Lillet Blanc, which is a blend of wines and aromatics. I replaced the Lillet with Licor de Oro, and enjoyed the result.
For the drink:
-3/4 oz licor de oro
-3/4 oz gin (Xoriguer Mahon)
-3/4 oz triple sec (Cointreau)
-3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
-2 dashes absinthe (Wiggle Absint Minded)
Combine the drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice until three-quarters full and shake for 10 seconds. Pour through a Hawthorne and fine mesh strainer. Garnish.
Something Original: Camp Fire in Chiloé
This drink came from a half-baked idea about flavors I’d want for a Serbian Christmas. With the full ounce of lemon juice, the allspice, and cinnamon, the drink avoided being overly sweet with nice warming notes.
For the drink
-2 oz Licor de Oro infused with cardamom
-1 oz cointreau
-1 bar spoon peaty scotch (Laphroaig 10 year old)
-3/4oz oz fresh lemon juice
-1/3 simple syrup
-1/3 cinnamon stick
-2 green cardamom pods
Muddle 2 green cardamom pods and add the licor de oro. Allow it to steep for 20 minutes. Add the licor de oro, cointreau, Laphroaig, lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake for 10 seconds. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and cloves to a small fire safe vessel. Ignite with a kitchen blowtorch or lighter and once smoking, turn the glass upside-down to catch the smoke. Immediately pour the drink through a Hawthorne and fine mesh strainer into the glass. Garnish.
Eat Your Spirit: Golden Beignets
Traditional beignets just have powdered sugar on top. I did not want to change the base of a classic, but just add something. I made this Licor de Oro, which added interesting new elements an already perfect pastry.
Makes 24 beignets
For the beignets:
-1 cup water, 105 degrees
-3 tablespoons sugar
-1 tablespoon instant yeast
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-2 large eggs
-2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-2 quarts peanut oil
For the golden syrup:
-1/3 cup licor de oro
-1/3 cup light brown sugar
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1/2 teaspoon black-strap molasses
-Add the water to a bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar, then add the yeast. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes.
-Whisk the flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the salt together in a separate bowl.
-Add the eggs and vegetable oil to the bowl with the water and yeast and whisk until combined.
-Gradually add the liquid mixture into the flour mixture stirring with a spatula until it's just combined and formed into a ball.
-Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for an hour, until doubled in size.
-Once the hour is up, begin heating the peanut oil in a wok or dutch oven. You'll want to get it to 350 degrees.
-While the oil begins heating, roll the dough out into a 24" X 18" rectangle and it's about 1/4" thick. Cut it into 24 pieces. If easier, divide the dough ball in half and roll into a 12" X 9" rectangle.
-When the oil reaches 350 add 4 or 5 dough pieces. Cook for about 45 seconds and then flip and cook for the same time. Keep an eye on them and flip/remove them from the oil if they start to get too dark.
-When you pull them out place them on a wire rack. Don't let the temperature get too hot.
-After cooking all of the beignets, combine all of the syrup ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
-Once it comes to a boil reduce the temperature and allow the mixture to simmer for 3-5 minutes. It should have thickened.
-Drizzle the syrup over the beignets and dust with powdered sugar.
Chile’s landscape alludes easy categorization. Running three thousand miles north to south the variety in geographies and climates alone is astounding. Chile’s climate ranges from desert to Mediterranean to ice cap and everything in between. Some of the most dramatic places in the country are southern Chile, the land of Patagonia. The region earned its name from Ferdinand Magellan who sailed through the region on the first circumnavigation of the world, describing the indigenous peoples as giants and in Portuguese calling them Patagão or in Spanish Patagón, people with big feet. Patagonia came to mean the land of giants. While the people were not giants, the scale of everything in the region seems to fulfill the name.
Licor de Oro comes from the island of Chiloé in the Los Lagos Region of Patagonia. This island, the largest in Chile, is part of a larger archipelago that runs north to south down the coast in the Pacific Ocean. The largest town on the island, Castro, sits on the coast and is the third oldest city in Chile dating to 1567. The town's connection to the sea is apparent from its famous houses, the palafitos, sit on stilts over the water. Even when natural disasters destroyed various parts of the island, the inhabitants continued to maintain their unique lifestyle. Through it all Licor de Oro remained the "spirit" of the island. I cannot wait to visit this enchanting isle.