About six weeks ago I did a post on bizarre beverages, and made the observation that yesterday’s strange beverage is today’s commonplace quaff. Yoghurt liqueur is a good example. Ten years ago it would have made most Top Ten Bizarre lists, but today seems almost pedestrian compared to bacon vodka, reptile-infused wine and Mamma Mia Pizza Stout.The concept of a yoghurt liqueur is not only tame stuff in 2013, but the first one on the market is being made by one of the world’s oldest and most respected spirits companies. The Bols family established a distillery shortly after their arrival in Amsterdam in 1575. By the early 17th century the operation had become the dominant player in the manufacture of both flavored liqueurs and genever, the Dutch juniper-infused libation from which modern gin evolved. The last family member died in 1813, and over the next two centuries the company went through numerous phases of ownership, including joint ventures with Diageo and Remy Cointreau. Today it remains what it has been for a very long time: the leading creator and marketer of liqueurs, with a current portfolio of 38 different flavors.

According to Bols, their Natural Yoghurt Liqueur has “a unique sweet and sour taste profile and a natural, smooth flavor.” The alcohol level is fairly low at 15%—not much more than most California wines in this age of climate change. The company stresses mixability in their marketing materials, emphasizing that the liqueur can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or blended with soft drinks, fruit juices and other spirits in a variety of cocktails.

Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur ($17) is pure white and viscous in appearance, with pleasing aromas of buttermilk on the nose. It’s rich and soothing on entry, with a texture similar to a smooth milkshake, and displays appealing flavors of vanilla bean and cinnamon that linger on the moderately long finish. It does in fact taste like yoghurt, and has a silky decadence that would make it a perfect after-dinner treat. We won’t even talk about breakfast.

Bols says the liqueur was originally created in response to demand from the Chinese market (go figure), and they felt that a milk-based spirit rather than a cream liqueur would work better in cocktails. Several dozen are listed on their website and many are interesting, although Bols commercial director Guenael Fily feels that it works particularly well with rum.


1 oz. Bols Yoghurt
1 oz. aged rum
.5 oz. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake well, and strain into a chilled Martini glass

2 oz. Bols Yoghurt
.5 oz. Bols Cacao Brown
.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
Stir ingredients in a rocks glass with ice.

3 oz. Bols Yoghurt
3 strawberries
Combine ingredients in a blender with ice, and pulse until smooth.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, by Mark Spivak, is published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot). Writing in an engaging and appealing style, Spivak chronicles the untold tales of twelve spirits that changed the world and forged the cocktail culture. While some are categories and others are specific brands, they are “the best kinds of stories—the type a writer could never make up.”

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Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the restaurant critic for Palm Beach Illustrated. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Ritz-Carlton, Continental, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Dream of Italy and Arizona Highways. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Mark began writing Iconic Spirits after becoming fascinated with the untold stories behind the world’s greatest liquors. As a writer, he’s always searching for the unknown details that make his subject compelling and unique.

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