The 70s and 80s were terrible years for liqueurs, some deserving, due to the proliferation of low-cost “store brands” intended to meet the growing demand for sweet cocktails. A perfect example is the assumption that Curaçao necessarily means that sticky-sweet blue Curaçao that was so prevalent in tropical drinks of the day. It’s unfortunate since real Curaçao is an elegant liqueur, and many excellent versions exist, including Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest Limited Edition.
What is Yuzu?
Maison Ferrand recently released the Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest in the United States. This limited-edition spirit, a variation on the classic French orange Curaçao, is made from yuzu, a hybrid cross between the Ichang papeda and a sour mandarin orange, and used extensively in Japanese cooking. Yuzu is not a fruit you often find at a standard grocery store in America, but it should be! It’s a small, bumpy, yellow citrus fruit that resembles a smaller, rounder lemon or a yellow lime. It has a bright, tart, sour flavor and a strong scent, with a taste described as a combination of lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin. However, yuzu’s flavor is more complex than traditional citrus fruits, with distinct herbal and floral notes and high acidity. It’s an expensive, low-juice fruit prized for its ability to withstand high-temperature cooking.
Yuzu Curaçao was crafted by Alexandre Gabriel, Maison Ferrand’s owner and cognac Master Blender, in collaboration with David Wondrich, famed author and spirits and cocktail historian. Made from the entire Yuzu fruit and blended with brandy and Ferrand Cognac, this take on the classic French orange Curaçao is made to Ferrand’s and Wondrich’s exacting standards. “We wanted to create a Curaçao that showcases the fascinating aromatics of yuzu in a sophisticated 19th-century style brought forward by brandy and cognac. This would not have been possible without the learnings and research that David and I had done many years before when creating the classic orange Dry Curaçao from historical recipes.”
The yuzu in Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest comes from an orchard in the Mediterranean and is harvested in the fall via a strict hand-picking process. It’s left on the trees after they’ve reached their peak ripeness and harvested late in the season. This technique concentrates and intensifies the yuzu’s aromas, allowing the process to capture incredible pastry notes that marry exceptionally well with the Ferrand Cognac base. The production of this liqueur resurrects a long-forgotten tradition in which Ferrand infuses their botanical ingredients in a grape spirit. The yuzu is macerated whole and, like the botanicals, is infused in a grape spirit for one week. This infusion is then slowly distilled in Ferrand’s copper stills. In the 19th century, master blenders used the infusion technique to bring forward the aromatics of oranges and other citruses. The Yuzu distillate is then married with a touch of the Yuzu infusion, a hint of bourbon vanilla, brandy, and Ferrand Cognac.
Maison Ferrand’s mission is to create exceptional spirits. Based in Cognac, France, Maison Ferrand produces Ferrand Cognac according to historical techniques stretching back ten generations. Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest made its first (900-bottle) appearance in the U.S. at Tales of the Cocktail 2022 in New Orleans. This limited-quantity release was created to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary.
The aroma starts with a strong and zesty yuzu/mandarin note, followed by vanilla and marzipan with a hint of flowers (rose and geranium), pepper, mint, and herbs.
A rich and round palate follows the aromas, adding candied citrus fruits (yuzu, mandarin, lime) and waxy impressions of tropical fruits, almonds, plums, toffee, nutmeg, and tea.
The long, intense finish emphasizes citrus fruits, herbs, vanilla, spices, and sweet pastries.
Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest is an aromatic and complex liqueur. The spirit’s 40% ABV and the full-bodied flavor profile make it ideal as a sipper. It also makes a refreshing, warm-day spritzer. If you’re feeling more creative, you can elevate your cocktail experience by trying these original recipes created by legendary bartender Jesse Cyr. They’re perfect anytime, from poolside to fireside.
1.5 oz VSOP Cognac
.5 oz aged Jamaican rum
.75 oz sweet vermouth
.25 oz Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest
Stir and use an absinthe-rinsed Nick & Nora glass
Garnish: lemon twist
1.5 oz mezcal
1 oz lime
.5 oz Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest
.5 oz honey syrup
3 dashes orange bitters
Shake and use a Collins glass with crushed ice
Garnish: mint sprigs
* Cocktail Recipe provided by Jesse Cyr, national beverage consultant. Instagram: @cocktailsbyjesse