The Nutbuster is one of my own creations, and is a variant on the Amaretto Sour. It is a complex Sour, meaning that it has multiple alcoholic flavouring ingredients instead of just the one. In the Nutbuster’s case this involves the addition of Limoncello and the hazelnut liqueur Frangelico. The result is a both nutty and tangy little number which is quite special.
As the name suggests, it has a distinctly nutty flavour, and as such is not suitable for anyone with a nut allergy.
What makes it special is the overlapping nutty flavours that roll over your tongue in sequence. It’s one of those cocktails whose taste seems to change on you while it’s in your mouth. This depth of taste complexity makes it a very interesting cocktail. Though since it is based on a nutty set of flavours it lacks mass appeal. But to some peoples’ tastes it is truly outstanding.
I created the Nutbuster during my time working in the West End of London. My bar was situated just across the road from the theater housing one of the long running musicals. As such I got to know quite a few of the cast and crew. The production’s lead actor used to love his Vesper Martinis.
I came to know some ladies of the makeup department quite well. The rest of the cast and crew might come in during the post theater rush. But following the costume changes of the interval the makeup team’s work was done for the night. So they would come in for a cocktail quite often in the mid-evening lull while the second half was running. With fewer customers I always had more time to give them.
I created the Nutbuster for one of these ladies, based on her own personal tastes. I had recently been playing around with the New York Tart, and decided to adapt the Limoncello and Frangelico support liqueurs into a Sour format. It is a beautiful drink and an excellent addition to the Sours group. Having said that it was never in the same league as the Sloe Sour Bitch, neither in quality nor popularity.
In fact I never actually put it on any of the major cocktail menus I have written. It always seemed to be too close in taste or role to other more popular cocktails I was more keen to push. So I kept it to myself, for special occasions.
As a variant on the Amaretto Sour, the Nutbuster’s primary flavouring element is Amaretto. I covered that already in sufficient depth in the Amaretto Sour post.
Limoncello is a lemon liqueur originally from the south of Italy. It is made by infusing a neutral base spirit with lemon zest to draw out the essential oils in the skin of local lemon varieties. Then sugar is added to smooth out the tartness into a drinkable, lemon flavoured liqueur. Given the simplicity of this process when compared to many other spirits and liqueurs, it’s no wonder that Limoncello has become a favourite for home production. Note that if you do choose to use a home made Limoncello you may have to drop the quantity. Home made Limoncellos tend to have a more potent taste than mass produced ones.
Frangelico is a hazelnut flavoured liqueur produced in Canale, in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is known for its distinctive bottle shape which mimics the look of a Franciscan Friar. Most people assume that it is one of these herbal liqueurs that have been produced for centuries according to a secret recipe. In actual fact it was produced in the 1980’s to catch the bandwagon as cocktails came into fashion again. Nevertheless, it is a quality product.
What appeals to me about Frangelico is not its actual taste but how we perceive it. The vast majority of ingredients we use to make cocktails will effect the cocktail’s primary taste. But Frangelico instead contributes to its aftertaste. This means that we can use a small amount of Frangelico in a cocktail to create an extra layer of taste complexity. This makes it extremely valuable to a mixologist. Though 10ml per cocktail is plenty. More than this and hazelnut comes to dominate the drink rather than being an interesting aftertaste.
Recipe and Method
There’s nothing particularly complicated about a Nutbuster. Except for the number of ingredients. This likely makes it more suited to bars than home production. But although I would typically shake it in a bar, it could be stirred or built if necessary when making it at home.
Since it is a complex Sour, it differs from simple Sours in a couple of ways.
To better bring out the flavour of the multiple liqueurs, bitters are needed and the use of both lemon and lime juice is advised. Egg white, however, tends not to work too well so I omit it. Also, care must be taken to attain the correct Balance of Sour. Though we tend to think of liqueurs as being sweeter than spirits, a lemon flavoured liqueur challenges this assumption.
Shake it all up, then strain into a short glass over ice. I was never that fussed about the garnish for a Nutbuster. I’ve often gone with a twist of orange zest for the colour, but so long as it looks good, it’s fine.