Benedictine is often used as a sweetener for cocktails that want more depth than a classic simple syrup. Some of the best substitutes are Yellow Chartreuse, Drambuie, Amaro Nardini, or DOM B&B.
What is Benedictine?
Benedictine is an herbal liqueur produced in France, originally created by a wine merchant named Alexandre Le Grand in the 19th century. It’s a spirit that belongs on the back of every serious cocktail bar.
The flavor profile is bitter-sweet, featuring a blend of twenty-seven flowers, berries, herbs, roots, and spices, making it a complex and versatile sweetener for cocktails. Being a Brandy, Benedictine pairs excellently with cocktails that feature Cognac as a base.
What Does Benedictine Taste Like?
Benedictine is a unique spirit that sips bitter-sweet like many herbal liquors. But, even though there are many bitter botanicals, the flavor profile leans more toward sweet than bitter.
Drinking a snifter of Benedictine could be compared to sipping honey that’s been flavored with spices, stone fruits, and herbs with the subtle touch of licorice. It’s common practice in Normandy to enjoy a pour of Benedictine after a nice meal.
Uses of Benedictine Liqueur
Benedictine acts as a complex sweetener in cocktails, and a little goes a long way. The most common cocktail that features Benedictine is the Vieux Carré, a modern-classic twist falling between a Sazerac and a Manhattan.
Other notable cocktails featuring Benedictine are the Frisco Sour, a bright, citrusy cocktail with rye whisky, and the Monté Carlo, a riff on the Manhattan with Benedictine in place of vermouth.
What Liquors Are Similar to Benedictine?
Drambuie is a full-proof liqueur made from Scotch whisky, heather honey, herbs, and spices. It’s probably best known as a component in the Rusty Nail.
It’s sweeter than Benedictine, but the notes of honey and spice are comparable. They’re similar in proof and work quite well in tandem.
2. Green Chartreuse
Green Chartreuse is perhaps the most sought-after herbal liquor produced in France. Something it shares in common with Benedictine is that they’re both bitter-sweet liquors.
While Benedictine has 27 herbs and spices, Green Chartreuse has 130 herbs, plants, and flowers, making it a much more complex ingredient. Probably the most well known cocktail featuring Green Chartreuse is the Last Word.
Try one with Benedictine!
Amaro is a bitter-sweet liquor produced in Italy that is distilled in hundreds of different styles, some more bitter than sweet, and others bold and complex. Some might say that Amaro is to Italy what Brandy is to France.
While no two Amaro sip exactly the same, Ramazotti and Amaro Nonino are two substitutes that drink similarly to Benedictine. A Vieux Carré with Ramazotti is definitely worth a shot.
4. DOM B&B
B&B is short for Brandy & Benedictine. There is Benedictine in B&B, but because of the added Brandy, B&B sips much sweeter than its already sweet counterpart.
Because of how sweet B&B is, it is often consumed on it’s own as an after-dinner drink similar to port wine.
Brandy is liquor distilled from fruit that could loosely be described as high-proof wine. Cognac is Brandy, and Cognac is also the base of Benedictine.
What separates Benedictine from a standard Brandy are the herbs, roots, and spices that add complexity.
6. Yellow Chartreuse
Yellow Chartreuse is like the younger brother of Green Chartreuse and has many similarities in flavor to Benedictine.
Though the two are far from interchangeable, most cocktails that work with Benedictine would work with Yellow Chartreuse and vice versa.
Italicus is a low-ABV spirit from Calabria distilled with rose petals, bergamot, citron, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, and gentian roots. It’s wildly floral and dangerously sweet.
Italicus is much lower in ABV and much sweeter than Benedictine, so it wouldn’t sub out especially well in a cocktail. It is however an excellent spirit to enjoy straight, similarly to DOM B&B.
Becherovka is an herbal spirit from the Czech Republic. While the recipe has been kept secret, many of the same herbs and spices are probably used in Benedictine as the two share a similar flavor profile.
Often overlooked by bartenders as a serious spirit because of its reputation of being a party pair with red bull, Jägermeister is actually a complex spirit that has a place in cocktails.
10. Luxado Maraschino
While Luxardo Maraschino isn’t an exact substitute for Benedictine, it’s a complex sweetening ingredient that can take cocktails in a slighter bolder direction.
How Long Can You Keep Benedictine?
Benedictine is a full-volume spirit, meaning that even after it’s opened, it’ll last indefinitely and does not need to be refrigerated.
What Proof is Benedictine?
Benedictine is 80 proof. Pro tip: If you find yourself drinking Benedictine straight, you might try leaving it in the freezer. Since it’s full-volume, it’ll remain super cold without freezing.
Does Benedictine Have Sugar?
Benedictine is very sweet but is only sweetened with honey. There aren’t any added sugars, though the equivalent is 300 grams of sugar per liter. A little goes quite a long way.
What Type of Alcohol is Benedictine?
It is an herbal liquor distilled from Cognac, herbs, spices, fruits, honey, and gentian roots.
What is the Consistency?
The consistency of Benedictine is a little thicker than a standard spirit like bourbon, vodka, or gin. It’s often used as a sweetener, and is much thinner than simple syrup.
What Color is Benedictine?
Benedictine is golden, honey-yellow in color.
Is Benedictine Expensive?
Not at all! Most liquor stores sell Benedictine for under $20. If you’re using it for a home bar, you’ll most likely be using a half-ounce at a time.
Benedictine is a versatile spirit that has earned itself a significant place in the cocktail resurgence. It adds bold complexity to stirred cocktails, or acts as a nice twist to something shaken and refreshing.
However you choose to use Benedictine, it’s clear that this herbal liquor deserves the coveted reputation it’s earned as a modern-classic staple.