Side by Side: Benedictine and B&B

While B&B might be found in any liquor store, Benedictine is a bit harder to come by depending on where you live. Last year I was lucky enough to track down a bottle of it and have it stocked in my bar ever since. However, I have since decided to make the switch to B&B (Brandy and Benedictine) as it is more readily available at most stores. So to finish the remaining portion (about 1/3 oz) of my Benedictine I decided to do a side by side taste comparison for you my fellow mixologists.

To begin both are amber colored liqueurs that are priced between $30 and $40. They’re also earthy and herbal with a strong aroma to match.

Ok so let’s start with the one we should already be familiar with here on the blog. Benedictine, has the consistency of a modern blue curacao or dark rum with a slightly thicker consistency than a standard spirit. While technically classified as a liqueur, Benedictine has the full body and kick of a standard spirit. “Clocking in” at 40% ABV (80 Proof), it doesn’t overpower itself with either sweetness or alcohol burn. The liqueur starts very sweet and then moves to a complex earthy (almost green earthy) flavor and rounds out with a little bite on the finish to remind you that it is still alcohol. Like B&B it’s not often mixed with to many other ingredients and is preferred by most sipped over ice.

B&B surprised me by being slightly darker in color than the traditional Benedictine. While the aroma of Benedictine is sweet and herbal, the B&B has much more of a classy brandy aroma. You might even pick up a little oak in that smell as well. B&B starts off sweet like it’s predecessor, however the mid palette is where everything changes. The herbal quality is very subtle and if you weren’t looking for it you might just miss it. The after taste is much cleaner and it leans very much to the fine French Brandy that is contains. Being a mixed liqueur it is also on the thinner side of the viscosity spectrum and feels a bit lighter in the glass. I certainly wasn’t expecting such a distinct difference in flavor for this particular mix. While it is similar in color B&B is a very different liqueur which will both allow me to try new recipes but also be cautious in substituting it for Benedictine in the future. At the same 40% ABV, you certainly feel more of the kick when drinking it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Between the two of them I will continue to recommend Benedictine, however if B&B is all your can find I believe it will suffice for a mixed drink just fine. Just don’t give one of them to someone on ice and try to convince them it’s the other.

side by side benedictine and BB

“In this corner…”

Queen Elizabeth’s Wine

Well, at this point I think it’s safe to say that I can’t keep up with last year’s schedule of “a new drink every Monday,” but I will certainly try to keep getting drinks out to you guys. So, you may see a surplus of new recipes over the next week, then a bit of a break. Just remember to check back here occasionally for a new drink or two.

Ok so down to business. Today’s cocktail is certainly of a different caliber than most of the fruit based drinks you’ll find me making. The “Queen Elizabeth’s Wine” is appropriately named for both it’s color and taste. The cocktail’s main aroma comes from the dry vermouth in the drink, but unlike some other vermouth cocktails the flavor doesn’t overpower the drink. You’ll start off with a sweet wine taste (something like a Pinot Grigio), but it quickly moves to the lead liqueur of Benedictine. The finish has a nice mild vermouth taste and keeps you going back for more. It’s a rather small drink and fills a traditional small cocktail glass perfectly, but for a modern variation you could easily bump up the Benedictine to 2.5 oz and the lemon juice to 1.25 with a dash of citrus bitters. Even if you’re not huge on the taste of vermouth, this might be worth a try.

Overall Rating: 8/10
Alcohol Taste Rating: 5/10

Queen Elizabeth’s Wine

1 1/2 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
Lemon Twist

Stir and strain with ice into a chilled cocktail glass. Garish with a lemon twist (rub over edge of glass)

Queen Elizabeth's Wine

(Insert generic offensive Queen of England joke here)

Sidecar Royale

Today we’ve got a classy cocktail with a solid flavor. The Sidecar Royale has a classic sandy color with citrus and herbal aromas. It starts on a mildly sweet note, moves to a sweet brandy taste, then finishes with an earthy herbal and brandy bite. If you have or can find some Benedictine you might want to give this one a try. The original recipe calls for either brandy or cognac, but in my bar all I have is flavored brandies. I figured Apricot would fit this drink quite well (and it did). Although a more pure brandy would have the same flavor profile as my mix.

Overall Rating: 7.5-8/10
Alc. Rating: 6/10

Make it Again? Yes. Worth trying with cognac

Sidecar Royale

1 oz Brandy (or cognac)
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 1/2 oz Sweet/Sour
(Optional Rim with sugar)

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

sidecar royale

“Tasty with a side of Benedictine.”