The Intoxicologist

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pacharan: The Sloe Berry Worth the Search

I recently received a question asking if I had any recipes for the Spanish liqueur, Pacharan. The only reference to this liqueur I have ever come across is from Gary Regan’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle that is reproduced in the online Ardent Spirits newsletter I receive regularly. This particular liqueur is extremely hard to find, which in turn makes handy recipes even more difficult to come by.

In researching this liqueur it appears to have a pinkish hue and be delectably sweet rather than syrupy sweet, making it an excellent choice for after dinner sipping. However, it is exceptional for mixing as well if you have the courage to begin experimenting with it once you can get your hands on a bottle.

The foundation of the pacharan, or sloe berry, is the fruit of the Prunus Espinosa, a wild bush. The fruit is called endrina or aranon. It is dark blue to purple and dusted with a fine white powder. Quite interestingly, it is thought that this sloe berry had medicinal purposes for stomach ailments, childbirth pains, and aches that went along with old age. Many older liqueur roots were founded in the thought that they had medicinal uses.

The Pacharan is infused through the process of maceration which means the sloe berries are steeped in alcohol. Aniseed essence is added to the mixture before and after the process is complete. This method can take anywhere from one to eight months according to one source before it is ready for the final steps of processing, packaging and on to the shelves of select markets.

Below is the recipe from Gary Regan’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the author of The Joy of Mixology and other books as well as the Ardent Spirits online newsletter. E-mail him at if you wish to subscribe.

Basque Martini

1-1/2 ounce Baines Pacharan
1-1/2 ounce Crème de Bananes
1 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
2 ounces Pineapple Juice
Pineapple Slice – Garnish
Maraschino Cherry – Garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full of ice and add all of the ingredients. Shake for approximately 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the pineapple slice atop the drink and place the cherry in the center.

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