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Aguardiente Cristal for infusion

So I'm trying my first infusion with orange and minneola peel. We went into the liquor store intending to get vodka, but our friend at the store, who happens to be the manager, recommended that we use Aguardiente Cristal instead, saying that it's more neutral than vodka and that people often use it for infusions. We went for it since he's always been knowledgeable about other liquors. When I opened it, though, it smelled more like anise than the pure alcohol I was expecting, and a quick googling indicated that it's flavored mildly with anise. I'm a fan of anise so I'm not upset, but I'm wondering why he would have recommended it as a neutral spirit.

I went ahead and made the infusion with only about 250 ml, in case it turns out horribly, and it actually smells great so far- strong orange up front with a burst of anise at the end as you move the jar away. Has anyone heard of it/ used it/ made an infusion with it before? The only mention I could find on CH was this thread:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/306730

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  1. I have a bottle of Cristal at home, but that's a very heavy aniseed spirit.

    3 Replies
      1. re: tinnywatty

        I use it to substitute for Herbsaint or Absinthe if I’m ever out of the two. I also enjoy it with a bit of orange juice for brunch.

        1. re: pete k

          Interesting; then I suppose I can hope that my orange peel liqueur will turn out well! Thanks.

    1. Also, can anyone suggest another flavor that would go well with the anise for another infusion? So far the orange smells much better than it tastes, so I don't know if I will be making any more.

      1. The manager of a liquor store said "more neutral than vodka" -- more neutral than the spirit which is distilled to 190 proof to remove all flavor and, by very definition, is flavorless?

        I would have suggested reporting him to the manager, but ....

        1 Reply
        1. re: EvergreenDan

          Yeah, I don't get it. He's been spot on with all of his other recommendations, though, so like JMF I'm guessing he just got mixed up.

        2. He probably got it confused with Neutral Grain Spirit

          1. The Ecuadorian brand Cristal (like most Ecuadorian aguardientes) is neutral-tasting, but the Colombian brand Cristal (like mosr Colombian aguardientes) is anise-flavored. The clerk probably mixed the two up.

            3 Replies
            1. re: calliopejen

              Interesting. I still haven't found any drinks that the Cristal is great in (and I don't dislike anise). Any suggestions?

              1. re: tinnywatty

                Try subbing for pastis, perhaps starting with a Corpse Reviver #2 which I think would be up your alley.

                Or try it as you would ouzo -- on the rocks or with one soda and lemon.

                --
                www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  Oo, both of those sound good, especially the CR2. I'll give it a try. Someone recommended a Cristal mojito and I thought it was completely undrinkable. Thanks, Dan!

            2. I have had a similar conundrum using Aguardiente. To me, the anise flavor is very prominent, to others who I have taste tested with it, it is not noticeable. I think it depends on the pallet, especially with a peculiar and distinct flavor like anise. I would not refer to it as neutral.