Spirits & Liqueurs Liqueur

What the #$@! Do I Do with This? Chambord: What It Is and How to Use It.

The black-raspberry liqueur is surprisingly versatile.

A squat, round bottle of Chambord, its name prominently printed on its golden label, sits on a yellow background with white squiggles directly behind. Next to it are the outlines of other bottles, their labels darkened.

Liquor.com / Laura Sant

You bought a bottle of booze because a cocktail recipe called for a very minute amount. Now you’re stuck with the remaining 9/10ths of the bottle and wondering what to do with it. No worries. Thrifty bartenders weigh in with tips and recipes for getting every last drop out of an underutilized ingredient so it doesn’t gather dust on your bar shelf.

For many people, Chambord is the commune in the Loire Valley where you’ll find one of the world’s most recognizable châteaux, built in a French medieval-cum-Renaissance architectural style. But if you’ve ever mixed a round of Kir Royales or scooped vanilla ice cream parfaits to complete a dinner party, it’s also a squat, gold-trimmed bottle filled with a dark purple liquid you might be wondering how to finish.

First off, banish thoughts of Chambord being merely a “raspberry liqueur,” says Washington, D.C. bartender Julia Ebell—it’s much more than that. “One of the most common misconceptions about Chambord is that it’s a one-note spirit,” Ebell says. “Raspberry is the star, but don’t forget the other flavors: vanilla, honey and citrus peel.”

However, lest we sugar coat things, the aubergine-colored nectar is rather sweet and viscous. Still, with proper balance, cocktails that use up to an ounce of it don’t have to be treacly sweet, says Savannah, Georgia, bartender Kevin King. “Chambord actually has a bright acidity from the citrus peels, which helps balance out sweetness.” He has soaked cherries in it to garnish Manhattans, mixed it with vinegar for cocktail shrubs and even substituted it for triple sec in Margaritas and Sidecars. Chambord is versatile, and plays well with gin and vodka, as well as with bourbon and brandy, he says.

“Chambord also works well with sherry and crushed ice to make a sweeter version of the classic Cobbler,” says Chicago bartender Azrhiel Frost. Its high sugar content is best balanced by dry or acidic ingredients, she adds. These can include citrus, bitter liqueurs, or dry sherry like in her Cobbler variation.

Less expected, perhaps, is Chambord as a sugar substitute for drinks like Old Fashioneds, which is how Los Angeles bartender John Neumueller uses it. And of course, an obvious spot for a splash of Chambord is in a flute of sparkling wine as a Kir Royale, or swap a still wine for the sparkling for a Kir cocktail, traditionally drunk as an aperitif in France. No matter how it’s used, Neumueller advises restraint. “It’s good to let it have room to breathe,” he says.

Finish that bottle of Chambord by mixing up one of these three cocktails, then try playing with it at home for your own concoctions.

1. Pisco Bramble

A short, detailed rocks glass holds a bright red drink over crushed ice. The drink is garnished with a sprig of fresh mint and two raspberries pierced on a silver pick. The glass is on a light blue background with a white squiggly line on either side of it.
Tim Nusog

“Chambord is great to float on top of cocktails and can layer nicely,” says King. “I love to use it in Brambles with gin or pisco.” This Bramble recipe substitutes pisco, a South American brandy, for the more traditional dry gin, lending it lush fruit and richness.

Get the recipe.

2. She’s No Gentleman

A curved coupe glass holds a white, creamy cocktail. The glass rests on a pale blue background, with a few dramatic white lines emanating from it.
Tim Nusog

“The vanilla notes of Chambord pair well with smoky flavors like scotch or mezcal and funky flavors like rum or pisco,” says Ebell. “The honey loves bourbon and high-tannin teas.” She’s No Gentleman tastes great any time of year, but its rich warmth and berry sweetness are particularly effective when combined with a cold night and a roaring fire.

Get the recipe.

3. Cobbler

A thin, tapered Collins glass holds a bright red cocktail and bunch of crushed ice. It's garnished with a tightly bunched sprig of mint, and sits on blue background with curvy white lines emanating from it.
Tim Nusog

For this variant on the classic Sherry Cobbler from Frost, the sweetness of Chambord is offset by light and dry fino sherry and a touch of lemon juice. Together, the ingredients give robustness to this low-proof cocktail. For more citrus flavor, she suggests adding an orange slice.

Get the recipe.