The wonderful story behind the herbal liqueur Bénédictine
Bene ‘N’ Hot
For those who like the taste of herbs and lemon, Bene ‘N’ Hot could be an interesting alternative to the classic grog: 1/3 Bénédictine, 2/3 hot water and thinly sliced slices of a natural lemon.
If you like it a little lighter, use 1/4 Bénédictine and 3/4 hot water.
Grog from Normandy
Culinary pleasure in Europe often originates in Italy and France. The original recipe of Bénédictine liqueur, produced in Normandy for over 500 years, comes from an Italian Benedictine monk who had come to France.
In 1510, Dom Bernardo Vincelli documented the recipe of an elixir that was both health-giving and tasty, which was kept in the once powerful Benedictine monastery of Fécamp.
The French Revolution meant the end of the power of the monastery. The recipe, well kept in the monastery library, was preserved and discovered there by Alexandre Le Grand, who began to produce the liqueur Bénédictine and came to wealth and fame.
If your next trip takes you to Normandy by sailboat or any other mode of transportation, you can visit the Bénédictine distillery at the Palais Bénédictine and get a glimpse into the history of the famous herbal liqueur.
At the Palais Bénédictine, people probably smile indulgently at many a company that has decided to build a glass factory or shyly allow glimpses of the manufacturing process: at the Palais Bénédictine, people have been taking tours of the rooms and the distillery for centuries.
The palace was built specifically for this purpose.
Of course, after the tour of the distillery is also interested in a tasting of Bénédictine in pure form or in a cocktail like the Bénédiction. This is celebrated here not in the back room but in formidably designed cocktail bars.
As a further incentive to visit, a black bottle version of the liqueur can be purchased on site at the Palais Bénédictine, and is available exclusively at this location.
Coast and cardamom
In earlier decades, a port was the best prerequisite for access to exotic spices. The port of Fecamp in Normandy, diagonally opposite Plymouth in England, helped the Benedictines obtain spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla.
These are four of the 27 ingredients that give the herbal liqueur Bénédictine its interesting spicy note. Lemon is also an important ingredient in the (naturally) secret recipe of Bénédictine.
A worldwide success
The liqueur Bénédictine is popular in many parts of the world and is used for a number of cocktail classics.
For example, the Singapore Sling, signature cocktail of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, is mixed from gin, cherry brandy, triple sec, pomegranate syrup, lime juice, pineapple juice and a splash of Angostura bitters and Bénédictine.
If this list of ingredients is too long for you, B&B Bénédictine allows you to focus on the two ingredients French Brandy and Bénédictine.
Developed in 1917, the blend is one of the world’s best-selling pre-mixed cocktails and is even more popular in the U.S., for example, than Bénédictine liqueur itself.
The biggest fans of the Bénédictine can be found in England
The small town of Burnley in Lancashire has a place of honor in the global sales ranking of Bénédictine. There, every pub and bar serves Bénédictine.
The great popularity of the liqueur has a historical background, like so much on this part of the French coast, where the famous Omaha Beach is also located.
Lancashire regiments fought in Normandy during World War II. Wounded soldiers learned about “Foutinette” , as a mixture of Bénédictine and hot water, in the French military hospital.
What helped get back on its feet in the most difficult of times is still welcome to Burnley residents today.
If you come from the cricket field drenched in rain or get off your bike, the mixture of Bénédictine and hot water called “Bene ‘N’ Hot” will help.
For many, the grog made from Bénédictine is also a last drink before going home or when they feel a cold coming on.
Just give it a try and treat yourself to a good night’s sleep. With any luck, you will be fit again the next morning.
Prince of Wales
You don’t need to wait for a cold day to enjoy Bénédictine. Charles Schumann, recommends the following recipe for the classic Prince of Wales cocktail in his standard work American Bar:
1 sugar cube
2 cl cognac
Quarter of a natural orange
A cocktail cherry with style
1 cl Bénédictine
Soak the sugar cube with Angostura and add an ice cube. Add the cognac as well as the Stilkirsche and fill up with champagne, then slowly pour the Bénédictine over it.
Cheers. A votre santé. Salute.
Incidentally, the acronym D.O.M. on the bottle of Bénédictine stands for Deo Optimo Maximo “Dedicated to the best and greatest God” a phrase seen on many sacred buildings.
Monsieur Le Grand was obviously a marketing genius. He applied for trademark protection for the elegant bottle shape at an early stage and obtained permission from the then Pope to have the coat of arms of the Benedictine Order depicted on the bottle.
Today, the Bénédictine brand belongs to the Bacardi Group. When the Italian manufacturer Martini was acquired, Bénédictine was part of the delicious product portfolio acquired.
Start your culinary journey of discovery into a new chapter of pleasure with history best with a liqueur glass of pure Bénédictine.
You will taste the impressive history of this herbal elixir and understand why there is always a bottle of Bénédictine in the important bars of the world.
Photographs Stills © GloriousMe | PALAIS BENEDICTINE © VINCENT RUSTUEL