Floral Spirits Deliver a Delightful Bouquet

March 4, 2015 7:26 PM

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Floral Spirits Deliver a Delightful Bouquet

CRISPIN CAIN and Tamar Kaye grow 160 rosebushes—20 different varieties—in Mendocino County, Calif. If you want to experience their flowers, you don’t need to visit, and you don’t need to get a vase; what you need to get is a bottle. Mr. Cain and Ms. Kaye make Crispin’s Rose Liqueur, an intensely perfumed spirit, using a blend of rose petals gathered early in the mornings, when they are at their most fragrant. Small batches of the petals are steeped in apple-honey eau de vie, then pressed. The tannins in the petals tint the spirit a dusky shade of red and also help to offset the cloying quality that afflicts the taste of so much blossom-based booze. Crispin’s Rose also has half the sugar of most liqueurs.

Capturing a flower’s essence is challenging—so far, more than 400 aromatic compounds have been identified in roses alone—but the end results can be incredibly compelling. “The way to best work with florals is to not keep them by themselves. You’re working with [other] flavors that have a savory aspe...

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