Licor 43 is a versatile flavor-laden liqueur made with, it’s said, 43 botanicals including spices, herbs, roots, and citrus. It’s a natural match with coffee, a pairing popular in Mexico, but plays well in a variety of cocktails also.
Company: Diego Zamora S.A.
Distillery: Cartagena, Spain
Aged: 6 to 9 months in stainless steel tanks
- Its many botanicals give it delightful layers of flavor.
- Can be sipped neat or on the rocks as an after-dinner digestif, but its myriad flavors make it a fun cocktail ingredient.
- As with most liqueurs, some might find it overly sweet.
Color: Rich, deep honey-gold
Nose: It’s fun to try to pick apart the multitude of botanicals here. Vanilla bean is a strong, anchoring note, but also you’ll find orange zest, mint, cinnamon, some tea-like and woody notes like sassafras, and nutmeg.
Palate: A sweet, concentrated, intense note of vanilla bean is first to hit your tongue, but right behind it come the same flavors that revealed themselves on the nose: orange citrus, sassafras, nutmeg, and also star anise, lemon zest, and a little bit of saffron.
Finish: A sweetness lingers, as does a chest-warming hint of heat from warm baking spices and the 60-plus proof.
The Zamara family in Spain first released Licor 43 in the mid-20th century, apparently basing the sweet, spirited drink on a local macerated liqueur that has been handed down through a multitude of generations. Although it’s still catching on in the United States, the liqueur is wildly popular in Mexico, where it’s often combined with iced coffee in an after-dinner drink called Carajillo 43.
Finding liqueurs from Spain in the U.S. can sometimes be challenging, but Licor 43 is fairly well distributed and easy enough to find. Its underlying Strega-like menthol and cinnamon notes are a natural match with espresso, but chilling it brings out its citrus and vanilla qualities, making it easy to fit into different seasons and reasons for sipping. Try it out as a fun, spiced swap for triple sec or Grand Marnier in a Margarita.
Although the Zamara family is intensely proprietary about the recipe, Licor 43 gets its name from the number of herbs, fruits, and other botanicals macerated into the mix.
The bottom line: While liqueurs often take on a dust-collecting holidays-only quality, Licor 43 has enough going on to make it into frequent rotation, and experimentation, on your home bar.