Breeze (Taipei Boozehunting)

April 8, 2012

I returned today to what is probably the best place to buy booze in Taipei – The Taipei Breeze Center Supermarket on the corner of Fuxing S Rd and Civic Boulevard.

They’re not the cheapest place to buy, for sure, but they have things that I haven’t found ANYWHERE else in the city, and plenty of things I’ve only found once or twice, scattered here and there.

Some things that they have which you won’t find anywhere else in Taipei (or if you have, PLEASE let me know):

Green Chartreuse

Control Pisco (only other place I’ve seen any Pisco was Mega City as mentioned in my last post)

Grappa

Martin Miller Gin (a new one, which looks great – Icelandic water and pot still distillation: I have to buy it sometime)

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (today’s purchase)

Fee’s Brother’s Bitters (several kinds, as I mentioned in a previous post)

Galliano

Jagermeister

Limoncello

Some things that you might find here and there, but not often:

A few premium tequilas (eg Patron, Don Julio)

Havana Club Blanco and 7 Year

Cachaca

Hendrick’s Gin

Calvados

Real Absinthe

And there’s bound to be more that I’ve forgotten.

I made two purchases today. The first was the Fees Brothers Barrel-Aged Aromatic Bitters. These are aged in old charred whiskey barrels and (oddly unlike Angostura Bitters) contain real Angostura bark. I haven’t tried them in anything yet, but tasting straight out of the bottle (yes, I dashed bitters onto my tongue) they seem great. I imagine they’ll work well with a nice twist in anything calling for Angostura bitters, especially whiskey drinks like the Old-Fashioned and the Manhattan.

Next, I bought Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, which I’ve had my eye on for some time, but has been too pricey (1300NT). Maraschino Liqueur was dashed into all sorts of old cocktails as a general all round ‘improver’ back before prohibition, and has had a bit of a revival with the classic cocktail movement. It’s essential in some re-popularised drinks like the Aviation, and in Hemingway’s own take on the Daiquiri, the Papa Doble.

Maraschino has been made for centuries (first on the Dalmatian Coast, and then in Italy) from sour Marasca cherries which are infused into a spirit which is itself a distillate made from the stones of the cherry. It is then aged for a couple of years in Finnish ash barrels. The cute straw covering on the bottle was apparently to protect against breakage when shipping – built-in bubble-wrap. Like so many of the best old liqueurs it was said to have medicinal properties, to have been enjoyed by Napoleon and to have been made by monks (Dominicans in this case, and again probably bogus).

The taste is distinctive but tricky (and I’m terrible at describing tastes at the best of times). It’s easier to say what it’s not. It doesn’t really taste like cherries. It’s completely different from cherry liqueur and is actually clear in colour. It’s not terribly sweet. There’s sweetness, but it’s a sharp sweetness (very sharp – that was the thing that leapt out at me) not a sticky sweetness. It’s definitely got some bitter (I think this is the almond taste) and it’s definitely complex.

Some weeks ago, I wrote about the basic old-style cocktail and the ‘fancy’ cocktail. There is a third in the series of ‘genuine’ 19th century ‘cocktails’ (in the sense of spirits, sugar, bitters, and water) – the Improved Cocktail. It’s the basic, with dashes of Absinthe and Maraschino thrown in.

The Improved Cocktail

2 oz spirits

2 dashes bitters

1 tsp simple syrup

1/2 tsp Maraschino Liqueur

1/8 tsp Absinthe

lemon peel twist

Stir with ice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Rub the rim with lemon twist and drop it in.

I tried this with my Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey and again with my Courvoisier Exclusif VSOP Cognac. I used Angostura Bitters and my La Fee Parisienne Absinthe (bought at Breeze a few weeks ago, and although it had good reviews and was very expensive, I remain generally unimpressed with absinthe).

The influence of the Maraschino was definitely apparent. It adds a nice complexity to the drink. I think I still prefer an Old-Fashioned if I want to drink my Rye this way, but the ‘Improved’ treatment was definitely worthy of the name on the brandy version. From memory, I’d say it was clearly a small step up from the basic and fancy versions of the brandy cocktail. It was silky smooth and well-rounded. All the ingredients mixed together perfectly.

Advertisements

19 Responses to “Breeze (Taipei Boozehunting)”


  1. Congrats on the new purchase. Maraschino is fantastic stuff. I’ve long said that adding maraschino will either perfect your cocktail, or utterly destroy it. It is strong, and changes the character of everything around it. It’s one of the most essential ingredients you can have on your bar.

    The Hemingway Daiquiri is one of my all-time favorite drinks. I’ll be having them all summer 😉

  2. theboolion Says:

    Thanks Chaim. I haven’t tried the Papa Doble, but I love Daiquiris, and want to try comparing some variations ver soon.

  3. Alicia Says:

    Please try the Martin Miller. it is my favorite gin. Perfect with a rinse of dry vermouth and a lemon twist.

  4. Seamus Says:

    You have to try the maraschino in an aviation. 8 parts gin, 2 parts lemon juice, 1 part maraschino.

    And yes, also in a daiquiri. You can just add maraschino to a regular daiquiri without doing the whole Hemmingway version. Just do an dry Daiquiri (probably 8:2:1 proportions) using sugar as the sweetener, but add a dash of Maraschino alongside the sugar – a teaspoonful at most, perhaps only half that. The maraschino should be just sitting there in the background.

  5. theboolion Says:

    Thanks Seamus, I intend to try both of those soon. At first, I was going to wait to get some Creme de Violette for the Aviation, original style, but then I realised that the Savoy version has been around so long that it’s a legitimate (and some say preferred) take on the drink.

  6. Seamus Says:

    Wouldn’t bother waiting for the Creme de Violette.

    I make Aviations with Creme de Violette when I have it handy, but don’t mind leaving it out. I’m fussy about most things, but this is one case where I’m very relaxed.

    The maraschino is the key ingredient, and it goes beautifully with gin (and genever).

    The Aviation is a total crowd pleaser, so give it a try ASAP.

  7. theboolion Says:

    Yep, it’s definitely on the short short list 😉


  8. […] in a novelty skull-shaped bottle that looks like a Halloween prop. Another brand, available at Breeze is called Teichenné, and seems to have vaguely favourable reviews […]


  9. […] This is a fabulous bitters. I love my Rye, but it’s almost gone, and I can’t buy it in Taiwan, so I’ve been drinking Bourbon. Fees Brothers come to the rescue. These bitters add the spice, pepperiness and character to my Old-Fashioned that I’ve been missing. If you’re a fan of the drink, I strongly suggest that you find these bitters and give them a go in your Old-Fashioned. Fees make one batch a year, they’re all a little different, and when they sell out, you need to wait until the next year. So buy one when you see it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if you’re in Taipei, you can get these at Breeze. […]


  10. […] the only other brand available in Taipei (to my knowledge), Samba & Cana. Both are available at Breeze Supermarket and at the Hengjui Liquor Store in Jingmei (or a couple of other bottle shops here and there). Both […]


  11. […] are three small chains of import/ boutique supermarkets in Taipei. Breeze Center (the original location on Fuxing), is by far the best, and the only one with quite a few products […]


  12. […] Availability in Taiwan: Carrefour, Breeze […]

  13. ambradambra Says:

    I’ve just bought a bottle of Luxardo Maraschino and will be soaking some cherries in it. My latest blogpost was all about this so I’m dying to try it. http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/maraschino-a-tale-of-two-cherries/

  14. ambradambra Says:

    Yes, sounds good. On my list too!


  15. […] AFAIK there are currently three brands of Pisco available in Taiwan. Control for about 900NT from Breeze, Tres Erres from Megacity City Super for about 650NT, and Mistral from Jason’s in Banqiao […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: