Just now, i was eating a fig, and i was thinking, as i always do when
i eat figs, how lovely the fragrant part of their flavour is, and how
much it's spoiled by the vegetal taste. But then i was struck by a
thought: what if you made fig liqueur? Could you extract the light,
complex fragrant notes while leaving behind the earthy, green
vegetality? And, moreover, has someone already done this, so i can just
buy a bottle?
- There is a Tunisian (and probably generally north-west African) fig
spirit called boukha,
but i suspect that this is made with dried figs, rather than fresh,
which is not what i'm after. Furthermore, it seems it's actually
distilled from fermented figs, and so is a fig brandy rather than a fig
liqueur. There is mention of a North African raisin and fig liqueur
called boura, which is probably the same thing reported badly.
- Meilach &
Meilach give a recipe for generic fig liqueur, which can also be
made with dates. This is a dried fig thing, which is not what i
- We have evidence for a French fig liqueur called Delaunay,
which was popular in the 1930s; apparently, "un Delaunay est bon
à toute heure", but sadly, not today.
- There's a French fig apéritif called figoun. It
appears to be a Provençal speciality, traditionally drunk with
desserts' at christmas. It's not just fig, though - it consists of
vanilla, angelica, figs, oranges, red mandarins and wormwood, macerated
in red wine.
- There are rumours of an Italian fig liqueur. I cannot say more at
- There's something called 'Kleiner Feigling', some sort of German fig
Schnapps. They have a very bad
website, and a tradition of drinking it without
the use of the hands (perhaps because your hands might be busy elsewhere).
- Vom Fass report doing a
roaring trade in "fig
with vodka", which, despite the name is a fig liqueur - it's quite
sweet. It's very nice.
- The Hurricane
bar, in Manchester, does a fig-infused
Appleton VX. This is particularly ironic, since VX reportedly has
strong vegetal notes itself.
- Dutch colonists in South Africa apparently made a liqueur from fig leaves, rather than
fruit - you simmer young leaves in water until it goes green and
acquires a figgish taste. Useless but interesting. There's an amusing
comparison with the main other use for fig leaves in there
- Mr Pauli Østerø has written to tell me of a Croatian
spirit called smokovaca (in the case of the bottle he has, subtitled
'domaca sadija' - my guess would be that this is a designation of
origin, rather than part of the name per se), which is rendered in
english as fig schnapps (or according to some sources, brandy - the
more general type in Croatian is 'rakija'). He describes it as 'a very
tasteful spirit', and reports that it can be obtained from beautiful
Croatian girls. It seems plausible that it may also be able to obtain
it from other Croatians as well.
Reports are coming in from several sources of a fig liqueur and
champagne cocktail, which, frankly, is just what you'd expect. The name
'fig royale' is mentioned. I tried this, with 1-2 measures (judged by
eye) of Vom Fass fig vodka per flute of champagne; the fig was only just
noticeable, but quite pleasant.
Note that the fragrant and vegetal sides of the flavour can be
separated more directly: by scooping the pulp out of the hull and just
eating that. Or making liqueur with it, or whatever.
Anyway, i think it's time to get the durans out again and do some
Meanwhile, Mr Scott Taylor has written to tell me that he is making
what is essentially a fig port: pulped, sweetened figs are fermented to
10% alcohol, then fortified to 20% with orange vodka. Scott writes:
I've been making home wine for years now and recently met a
friend whose fig tree needed some thinning. I had the same thought as
you and have set out to attempt a liqueur. I have a plan but mostly I'm
winging it by taste. The viscosity is very different than grapes so most
likely I will raise the alcohol to make it a bit thinner.
Okay, so I've stopped the fermentation at about 10% alcohol,
sugar was just right at about 12 brix. I used an orange flavored vodka
and the orange is just behind the fig on the palate (it's quite subtle).
I brought the alcohol to about 20% but I still need to macerate the pulp
(similar results as in pressing the grape, and that should bring the
alcohol down a point or two. Yes the delicacy of the fig is still quite
noticable and no hint of the skins at this point. I will "press" it in a
couple of weeks to allow the pulp to break down even
Sounds extremely interesting!