“The first thing you need to understand” he said, “is that no one really understands how inspiration works.” Those were the words he used, but what did he really think? He looked at the drink, saw the name, saw the adult Icee consistency, saw that bottle of Underberg and he knew what had inspired him to make this drink. He knew that he had just lied to them and he knew he was going to get caught. He had to come clean, but how? Eyes downcast, he took a deep breath, “I have something I have to tell you…” his voice trailed off. There was an awkward pause, before he carried on with renewed vigor, “but, first won’t you join me as we stand and make the Ice-Berg.”
This frozen cocktail was created by Garrett Richard at Prime Meats in New York and the first time I saw a picture of this drink, I knew I wanted to make it. I did not want to try it because I believed that I hated Underberg, but I definitely wanted to make it. Garnishing with a bottle, I love that. Of course, this was before I discovered the amazing Kräuter Sauer and just how versatile this digestif is in cocktails. It is crazy complex and herbal, made with aromatics from 43 countries and aged in Slovenian oak. I was first introduced to the straight stuff in it’s signature 20 ml bottle by a barman in Munich and I hated it. I smiled, said “danke” and quickly looked for a Radler to wash the taste out of my mouth. I still bought the obligatory souvenir pack of bottles to bring home, but I did not save any for myself. It wasn’t till I used it in a cocktail that I discovered just how versatile and wonderful it truly is.
This is a blender drink, so grab your pitcher and pop in 1 ounce of tequila, I used Kah Añejo; 1 ounce of orgeat, 3/4 of an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a bottle of Underberg. Add about 2 cups of ice and blend till you get a nice smooth consistency. You could play any music you want, cause you won’t be able to hear it anyway over the roar of that vintage Oster blender. Pour into something big and garnish with the empty bottle of Underberg, maybe pop the cap into the middle. Did you know that Underberg has a loyalty program where you can trade in those caps for rewards? Well, you do now. I took a look and I want some of these things, way more than I want to drink Underberg. I also found that there is a lively trade in bottle caps on eBay for use in the loyalty program. Yeah, there is a black market for Underberg caps. I don’t know if that makes me proud or horrified, on some level. Maybe a bit of both.
The drink is lovely, though. Although the ingredients are the farthest thing from it, this is practically a tiki drink. This tequila and herbal digestif drink has a tropical feel that cannot be denied. Sure it has citrus and orgeat, but still Underberg in a tiki drink? I think this one has to get the tiki tag as a modern tiki drink. It is also another great avenue for the complexity of those herbal flavors. I was curious to see if it had that evolving taste thing that happened in the Sauer and it definitely does. The first sips were definitely herbal with a vanilla undertone, that later developed into a chocolatey sort of thing with more pronounced anise. I know that sounds pretentious, but the drink legit changes over time. I had plenty of time to sample it, well, when I could steal it back from Laura who loved it. I could only take small sips with lengthy breaks since this drink tried its best to freeze my brain with every taste. That’s a design flaw that a little insulation would sort out quickly, if we could just evolve more efficiently.
Which leads us back to where we started, with me lying to you. I have already made it clear that seeing a picture of this drink months ago, with that bottle sticking out of it was an inspiration to make it. I have explained how I have learned to appreciate Underberg in cocktails. The truth is much simpler though and has a lot more to do with brain freeze than any appreciation for herbal digestifs could ever inspire. The simple, unvarnished truth, as checked by our fact checkers, is that as Liam and I were driving home satellite radio roulette delivered up, “My Heart Will Go On“. Blame it on Captain Smith. Blame it on Jack’s frozen brain. Blame it on Rose’s need for more space on her door. Blame it on Celine Dion, but don’t blame it on the iceberg, that was just minding it’s own business, waiting for the Titanic to drop an Underberg on top and call it a day. That’s my story and that’s the truth, mostly. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.