Liqueurs are a huge part of any bar offering, or indeed your own collection at home. Most of you have heard of the classics – Baileys, Tia Maria, Bénédictine etc, but there’s always one’s that stand out when browsing a little closer to the flavour profiles available.

How about Solerno for example?

A blood orange flavoured liqueur, Solerno is made exclusively on the island of Sicily by Master Distiller Lesley Gracie. Leslie is a well-known name within the industry as she is credited for the creation of Hendrick’s Gin. It’s with this knowledge that she decided to use blood oranges that are hand-picked at the height of harvest on Mt. Etna. At the Agrumeria Corleone, where five generations of Sicilians since 1890, the citrus oils from the blood oranges are extracted and processed within 24 hours to maintain the freshness.

Once extracted, it is married with Italian lemon and a neutral spirit base. The spirit is then lightly sweetened with natural sugar, then packaged in a Murano inspired glass bottle, coloured to tip the hat towards the deep red of the skin of the blood orange fruit.

So with a dive into a lesser used fruit profile, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Solerno – 40%

Very fresh with plenty of orange aromas hitting the nose. Slightly bitter upon the palate, although the freshness dominates. Produces a mouth-watering texture with the intense pulp of the blood orange coming through. Creates a long, slightly bitter finish.

A great liqueur to have over ice, but maybe this will tantalize you?



Glass – 


Ingredients –

75 ml Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
25 ml Aperol
50 ml Fresh squeezed orange juice
80 ml Prosecco

Method – 

Build the ingredients over ice and stir. Garnish with an orange slice or blood orange slice if it’s in season.

It’s not just cocktails that Solerno is good for. I’ve come across this cracking recipe if you’re looking for a different take on food –

Gemma Sciabica’s Solerno Sponge Cake
Gemma Sciabica’s Solerno Sponge Cake

Gemma Sciabica’s Solerno Sponge Cake

Ingredients –

6 eggs, separated
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons Sciabica’s Mission Spring Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur


In a large mixing bow, beat egg whites on high-speed until foamy. Add ½ cup of sugar slowly while beating until whites hold stiff peaks.

In another large bowl, combine flour, the remaining ½ cup of sugar, salt and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add egg yolks, olive oil, orange juice concentrate and liqueur.

Blend until smooth then gently fold in the beaten egg white mixture.

Pour batter into a 10 inch springform pan or tube pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center.

Turn the cake upside down to cool.

When cooled, run a knife around the edges of the pan to release sides and pull gently to loosen the bottom from the pan.

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Serve the cake with fresh fruit soaked in 1 tablespoon of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and 1 tablespoon of sugar (per cup of fruit) and then top with whip cream.
  2. The cake makes a wonderful base for Tiramisu.
  3. Slice the cake into two layers and frost as desired. Try it filled with pudding and fruit, frosted with sweetened whipped cream.

A versatile liqueur that’s perfect for the upcoming Summer months. Grab a bottle, play around and give your friends something a little different this year.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reyka Bitters Tasting Notes


Bitters can be a bartenders best friend. Most bars will have a box full of wonderful flavours, all adding a different dimension to your favourite drink. From the most famous to the most extensive, your never short on possibilities, both in a bar or indeed at home. It’s also common these days for collaborations, creating a brand with ties with a big brother. Reyka vodka from Iceland has done such a thing in the last month, releasing their Reyka Bitters to the market.

Created by Reyka’s Master Distiller Lesley Gracie, she used botanicals such as Icelandic moss, angelica leaf and crowberry juice, all sourced from Iceland itself. To keep it exclusive, she has only produced 300 bottles, available in the UK only, and indeed only for the on-trade for the time being. 

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes – 

Reyka Bitters – 40%

Light and fragrant angelica on the nose with a slight sweetness of honey coming through. A bold start on the palate, with the honey becoming more dominant, followed by the sweetness of caramel that creates a short mouth-watering effect. Superb. 

A really lively tipple, especially compared to other brands of bitters. Reyka recommend it to be served best within one of its signatures too –

Bitter Reyka

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml Reyka vodka
2-3 drops of Reyka Bitters

Method – 

Pour the Reyka vodka over a couple of cubes of ice and add the bitters.

To coincide with the launch of Reyka Bitters back in March, William Grant (the company looking after Reyka Bitters here in the UK) ran a foraging expedition to Iceland with Reyka brand ambassador Joe Petch, for a group of British bartenders. For an expedition like this, and to really see the enthusiasm that Lesley Gracie had to create something a little different within the bitter category, must have been fantastic. To see a brand willing to open its world of not just how to produce, but to an extent how to create, is a rare treat, one that I hope to explore in the future! 

In the meantime, join me at the bar with a bottle of Reyka and some of their bitters. It’s time to enjoy.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hendrick’s Gin Uncover Unique Botanical on Perilous Quest Deep in the Venezuelan Rainforest

12996-Lesley & David

After days of trekking through the Venezuelan rainforest in pursuit of the extraordinary, the Hendrick’s Perilous Botanical Quest team have returned. Dirty, scratched, bruised, and pounds lighter than when they left, the team are immensely excited to announce that they have discovered a most unusual and flavoursome botanical with which to make a stimulating new “special edition” gin.

The intrepid venture into the Guayana Highlands of Venezuela saw Hendrick’s Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie, exploring the flora and fauna of the remarkable landscape under the stewardship of Mr. Charles Brewer-Carias, one of the world’s most distinguished moustachioed explorers, and renowned botanist, Francisco Delascio. Together, they guided Lesley through the remote wilderness of the rainforest and advised on botanicals.

Over the course of the trip the team covered several different terrains of the Guayana Highlands, from savannahs and mountain foots to riverbanks and the deep jungle. Armed with her tiny ten-litre alembic still, Lesley made a number of distillates from promising plant species pointed out to her by Charles, Francisco and the local tribesman, but it was one botanical in particular that captured her senses, that of the most unusual, ‘Scorpion Tail’. Believed by natives of the jungle to be a plant with magical powers for warding away evil spirits and traditionally used in tea infusions to treat stomach complaints, Scorpion Tail has an intriguing complex deep green note that will work well with the peculiar character of Hendrick’s Gin.

 “The flavour of Scorpion Tail is really difficult to describe, as it doesn’t taste like anything I’ve ever experienced before. However, its intriguingly unique palate will sit well with Hendrick’s and is sure to excite and delight taste buds.” said Lesley on unearthing Scorpion Tail. “The quest has been such a remarkable opportunity for us to discover new and unique flavours for distilling and has been an experience that will stay with me forever, but I’m happy to be back in Girvan again where there aren’t any sand fleas and spiders the size of saucers!”

In the heart of the jungle, Lesley distilled 8.4 litres of Scorpion Tail concentrate, which she successfully transported home and back to Scotland in her suitcase. Once she’s acclimatised to the very different terrain of South Ayrshire Lesley will start work on the new very rare edition of Hendrick’s Gin, a gin that will be inspired by the delectable Scorpion Tail and the pursuit of the extraordinary.

For more information on the Hendrick’s Perilous Botanical Quest, please visit sign up to the Hendrick’s Gin Society of the Unusual at