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Kummel Cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

Photography by Dan Malpass

In his 1939 The Gentleman's Companion, Charles H Baker asserts that kummel "is specified in enough cocktails that it should be on the shelf of every average bar", while the 1955 United Kingdom Bartenders' Guild Guide to Drinks describes kummel as, "one of the most popular of all liqueurs".

Sadly, fashions have changed, and kummel is now found in relatively few bars. However, it remains a classic cocktail ingredient and due to its unique flavour profile it's overdue a renaissance. Hopefully the following cocktails will inspire more to mix with kummel and if you have a tasty kummel cocktail recipe then please send it my way, simon@diffordsguide.com.
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After Hours
With: Dry gin, maraschino liqueur, kummel and orange bitters.
We say: Martini-like but with delicate liqueur richness. Lightly spicy and faintly nutty.

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Bearskin Martini
With: Vodka, kummel and dry vermouth.
We say: Caraway influenced Martini.

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Berlin Sour
With: Kummel, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and sugar syrup.
We say: The powerful flavours of kummel and maraschino liqueurs are tamed and harnessed in this sour.

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Clear As Rain
With: Blanco tequila, kummel, birch water and white crème de cacao.
We say: Tequila, kummel and cacao – a trio of powerful flavours diluted and made into a delicate cocktail by birch water.

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Crystal Clear
With: Vodka, kummel, Italicus and birch water.
We say: Subtly citrusy and piney with delicate caraway. Clearly refined.

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The Currier
With: Bourbon, kummel, lime juice and lime cordial.
We say: A wonderfully cleansing after dinner cocktail with bourbon and lime plus hints of caraway and fennel courtesy of kummel.

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Green Dragon
With: Dry gin, green crème de menthe, kummel, lemon juice and peach bitters.
We say: Mint, juniper, caraway and fennel in this Harry Craddock classic make for an unusual cocktail that's conducive to fresh breath.

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High Kick
With: Scotch whisky, kummel and dry vermouth.
We say: Plenty of dilution is key to this caraway and Scotch dominated cocktail from the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book.

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With: Light rum, coconut water and kummel.
We say: Dry and Martini-like. Assertive kummel flavours pervade a punchy mix of rum and coconut water.

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Quelle Vie
With: Cognac and kummel.
We say: Kummel's answer to the Stinger. To quote Harry Craddock, "Brandy gives you courage and Kummel makes you cautious, thus giving you the perfect mixture of bravery and caution, with the bravery predominating."

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Silver Bullet
With: Gin, kummel and lemon juice.
We say: If you like Aviation's then this caraway influenced sour may appeal. It's powerfully flavoured so also consider serving in an old-fashioned over ice to allow dilution to tame the flavours.

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Vodka Silver Bullet
With: Vodka, kummel and grapefruit bitters.
We say: Perhaps best described as a Kummel Martini with kummel liqueur's strong caraway favours fortified with vodka, freshened and made more complex by the addition of grapefruit bitters.

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Vowel Cocktail
With: Scotch whisky, kummel, sweet vermouth, orange juice and Angostura bitters.
We say: From a recipe in Ted "Dr Cocktail" Haigh's book Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails.

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Walter's Waltz
With: Kamm & Sons, apricot brandy, kummel, lemon juice and dry English cider.
We say: Medium-dry, herbal, fruity, refreshing and delightfully different. Best served as an aperitivo.

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Weekly Special
With: Gin, kummel, maraschino and pink grapefruit juice.
We say: Not so far removed from an Aviation. Depending on your grapefruit juice, this particular Weekly Special may be very slightly on the sweet side but it's fantastically aromatic and characterful. If you find too sweet, then slightly up the grapefruit juice.

More kummel cocktails.

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