Petite Jacqueline’s Norman Tart, made with apple brandy, triple sec, amaretto and lemon. Courtesy of Petite Jacqueline

When National Nut Day came and went last month, it got me thinking about all the delicious nut-forward cocktails I’ve enjoyed over the years. I didn’t want to miss an opportu-nut-y to write about some of the many ways you can incorporate nut-flavored products into cocktails. So open up your liquor cabi-nut and let’s get started!

The best known nut liqueurs are probably amaretto (almond) and Frangelico (hazelnut), but other good ones include Crème de Noyaux, a bright red almond-flavored liqueur made from stone fruits, and Crème de Chataigne, a chestnut liqueur. There’s also a macadamia nut liqueur from Hawaii called Kahana Royale and two Italian walnut liqueurs (Nocello and Nocino).

In the hard alcohol category, you can buy peanut butter, pecan and praline vodkas, as well as my beloved Skrewball peanut butter whiskey (which I love combining with Chambord raspberry liqueur for a liquid version of a PB&J).

If you’re a bitters enthusiast, Fee Brothers makes toasted almond bitters, Miracle Mile makes toasted pecan bitters, and several companies make black walnut bitters, my personal favorite. At Gather in Yarmouth, you can try black walnut bitters combined with Thai chili-infused Bulleit rye, apple syrup and lemon juice in their $13 Coyote Steals the Sun cocktail. If you prefer to make your own drinks, Vena’s Fizz House in Portland sells Napa Valley Black Walnut Bitters for $20, both online and in its retail store.

Monin makes a pistachio syrup, Proof makes a pecan syrup, and then of course there’s the world of orgeats. Orgeat is most commonly an almond syrup used in Mai Tais and other tiki drinks, but more recently, bartenders have been experimenting with variations like pistachio and walnut. A few local bars that sell the traditional almond orgeat are Vena’s Fizz House ($17.25 for a 12.3-ounce bottle of BG Reynolds) and Round Turn Distilling in Biddeford ($10 for a 9.5-ounce bottle of Liber & Co). Round Turn’s website offers detailed recipes for two cocktails made with orgeat (Quasi Mai Tai and Because Fall), as well as one (Cuddy Cabin) using black walnut bitters. If you’re feeling fancy, recipes abound online for how to make your own orgeat, but you’ll need orange blossom water, also known as orange flower water, an ingredient more common in Moroccan households than in Maine ones.

Via Vecchia’s Averna Mai Tai. Courtesy of Via Vecchia

If you want to try pistachio orgeat, head to Via Vecchia in Portland and order the $12 Averna Mai Tai, made with Averna (a popular Italian digestif in the Amaro category), pineapple rum, pistachio orgeat and lime.


If you prefer hazelnuts, Ri Ra in Portland has two Frangelico cocktails, the $15 Tequila Crème (Vespertino, Patron Citronge, Frangelico and triple sec) and the $14 Spirit of Portland (Jameson Irish whiskey, Frangelico, pineapple, simple syrup and lime). If you’re at home burning the mid-nut oil and want to make a delicious dessert cocktail involving hazelnuts, try the Chipmonk, one of my sig-nut-ure cocktails: Frangelico, crème de cacao and heavy cream.

Amaretto fans should make their way to Petite Jacqueline in Portland and order the $10 Norman Tart: apple brandy, triple sec, amaretto and lemon.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Pink Squirrel, a retro classic involving one part Crème de Noyaux, one part clear/white crème de cacao and two parts heavy cream. It’s pink, it’s creamy, and word on the street is that it’s on the menu at CBG in Portland. Along similar lines, the Nuts and Berries cocktail combines one part Frangelico, one part Chambord and two parts heavy cream.

In a nutshell, there are lots of fun options out there to help you celebrate your favorite nuts in style. Spread the word within your own social nut-work!

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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