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Dec 17, 2013 04:35 PM

Conifer spirits -- interchangeable?

Wanting to have a drink with an evergreen-conifer aroma during this holiday season, I wonder -- are the two conifer spirits I am aware of interchangeable? Can I substitue the Zirbenz Stone Pine for the Clear Creek Douglas FIr? I've never had either, so I don't have any idea if they are similar. I'd like to try them -- or one of them -- but they are so expensive I don't care to buy both (and possibly find out I don't like either!).

Anyone out there have any experience with them? and could you advise on substitution?

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  1. They aren't that similar. One is pine, one is fir. With each having their own flavor profile. If you only get one, get the Zirbenz. I find it more usable and with more depth of flavor. But you need very little in a cocktail. 1/4 oz. is enough.

    1. Someone here aptly said that Zirbenz tastes like a pine cone whereas eau de Doug Fir tastes like a pine needle.

      Zirbenz is dark (both color and flavors), with a bit of a turpentine aspect. It is useful in very small amounts, the way a touch of Fernet Branca can add depth and interest if used sparingly.

      Eau de Doug Fir is astounding. It tastes light and bright, like a coniferous forest in the Spring. It is light green in color. One of my all-time favorite cocktails is the Shiver -- a mix of Campari, Eau de DF, and grapefruit (Chez Henri, Cambridge, MA).

      I'm going to differ with JMF. If find the Eau de DF absolutely delightful. It is, however, very expensive (about $50/375ml). Zirbenz is perhaps more interesting than delightful.

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      5 Replies
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        perhaps i need to revisit, because the eau de doug fir tasted like freakin' liquid pine sol to me.
        the zirbenz, likewise.

        to paraphrase calvin trillin (when speaking of injera, a breadstuff from ethiopia), both these products seem to have many uses, none of which include being edible.

        1. re: linus

          Plus one on the Douglas Fir. I use it on a cocktail made popular at Craigie On Main in Cambridge, MA, the Northern Lights. I don't have the recipe handy, but it includes Grant's Scotch, lemon, lime, dematra sugar, and something else. Fantastic cocktail.

          1. re: linus

            Well, I'd describe injera as pita made with sunlight and helium. ;)

            FWIW, I love gin.

          2. re: EvergreenDan

            I can't argue with you Dan. The Doug Fir is much more enjoyable.

          3. here's a tasty sounding cocktail, evergreen wise:


            1. The Clear Creek is much higher proof, more high tone pine aroma. The Zirbenz has more forest fruit (to me blueberry) and tannic structure, and (when on ice) the sugars from the pine sap. Both are fine products, though I think you'll get more forest green, wood tannin and fruit from the Zirbenz. Remember we are comparing an Austrian tradition (Zirbenz) with an Oregon rendition (great people and program) on French traditions - apples and oranges.

              1 Reply
              1. re: punchbowl

                Agreed the Mugo Pine really has a completely different flavor than the Doug Fir. Both are great in their own right.
                Too bad that the Italian Mugo Grappas are not available here, That same Mugo Flavor with no sweetness and completely clear.