Unless the topic is coal or oil, it is not often one can write about a 500-year-old product.
That's one of the very special things about Benedictine, the herbal liqueur developed purportedly during the Renaissance by the Venetian monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli in the Abbey of Fécamp from 27 plants and spices.
It gained popularity and was produced by the Benedictine monks until the late 18th Century. Historians say the recipe became lost during the turmoil of the French Revolution, then was rediscovered by a Fécamp resident, tucked into a 16th Century manuscript he had purchased.
The formula used today was refined in 1863 by one Alexandre Legrand, whose family eventually sold the Benedictine company to Martini and Rossi, which in turn sold it to Bacardi.
A celebration of the liqueur's 500th anniversary was held this week at the Hearst Tower in New York City, in partnership with Hearst's Esquire magazine. Part of the gala was a competition among a group of highly-regarded bartenders to be named the "Alchemist of our Age" by coming up with creative uses for the liqueur.
The winner was Damon Dyer (above, in a Nike Communications photo) of New York's Flatiron Lounge and Louis 649. Here's his recipe:
MONTE CASSINO COCKTAIL
¾ ounce Benedictine liqueur
½ ounce Yellow Chartreuse
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce Rittenhouse Rye
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe or small cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
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