Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rum Cocktails

Fennel Countdown

An overhead shot of a bright orange drink over ice, resting on a marble surface. It’s garnished with a lemon peel square pierced in the center by a clove.
Linnea Covington

Created by bartender Alexis Osborne of the now-closed Acorn in Denver, the Fennel Countdown is a warming drink that evokes campfire chats and cold days when you're snuggled under a blanket with a good book. With both rum and calvados as well as a unique clove liqueur, it’s bright and flavorful with a fruity undertone. The fennel proves mild and slightly minty but helps give the cocktail body and a slight clarifying aftertaste.

The original recipe for the Fennel Countdown uses a number of specific labels for its ingredients. For instance, Osborne used The Real McCoy 12-year-old rum as well as Père-Magloire V.S.O.P. calvados, a highly regarded apple brandy from France. However, feel free to use another aged rum (try to stick to a 12-year expression) as well as another calvados if desired. The clove liqueur, however, will be much harder to substitute. If you can’t find The DECC citrus clove liqueur from 291 Distillery in Colorado, you’ll want to do some online shopping to get it. Similarly, the Strongwater Wildfire bitters are integral to the recipe, so you’ll want to secure those before setting out to make it.

Apricot puree, lemon juice and a fennel syrup made with fennel seeds and sugar are the other ingredients needed. It leads to a deeply complex drink, even if it is a bit labor and ingredient-intensive.


  • 1 1/4 ounces The Real McCoy 12-year-old rum
  • 1 ounce Père-Magloire V.S.O.P. calvados
  • 3/4 ounce 291 Distillery The DECC citrus clove liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce fennel syrup*
  • 3/4 ounce apricot puree
  • 1/5 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 dashes Strongwater Wildfire bitters
  • Garnish: Lemon square
  • Garnish: Clove


  1. Add the 12-year-old rum, calvados, citrus clove liqueur, fennel syrup, apricot puree, lemon juice and Strongwater Wildfire bitters into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Double-strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.

  3. Garnish with a lemon square studded with a whole clove.

*Fennel syrup: Toast 4 ounce fennel seeds. Add the fennel seeds, 8 ounces sugar and 8 ounces water to a pot, and bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes and strain. Makes 16 ounces.