Spirits: Finding Lolita in a bottle
Yesterday, I received an email with the subject line: “Peanut Lolita Found.” Rest assured, this was not spam, though I’m frankly baffled as to how it passed through the Post’s very sensitive filter. What does it mean that my own emails to my editor often end up in the junk box?
Anyway, this message was from a reader named Brian Mullin. He wrote, “While at a yard sale in Oakland last weekend, I found a half full bottle of Peanut Lolita, along with a half bottle of Jacquin’s Forbidden Fruit and 20 bottles of other random sweetish spirits from the mid-century period. If there’s anyone you know who is desperate to get their hands on it or a taste, pass them my email.”
Now, this was quite an archaeological find! Hats off to Mr. Mullin.
Peanut Lolita is a whiskey-and-peanut liqueur that dates from the late 1960s and early 1970s that I’ve mentioned a couple of times in my column, particularly in my recent one about nut liqueurs. It’s a thick, peanut-flavored liqueur that once was produced by Continental Distilling in Linfield, Pa. Infamous presidential brother Billy Carter was the brand’s drunken pitchman — which should say something about the quality of this spirit.
My brother Tyler is the one who first found the stuff on dusty, forgotten bottom shelf of an aging liquor store a few years ago, during a round of a game we call Liquor Store Archaeology. Due to the liqueur's overwhelming whiskey-and-peanut taste and gritty texture — not to mention its unfortunate name — it is unlikely to make a comeback anytime soon.
I thought we had the only two bottles of Peanut Lolita left in existence. Until yesterday, that is.
I’m also interested that Mullin found a bottle of Forbidden Fruit, long defunct. This honey-citrus liqueur, made by Charles Jacquin et Cie in the mid-20th century, was a precursor to what we now know as Chambord (produced by the same company). In fact, it came in the same orb-shaped bottle.
Since we’re playing Liquor Store Archaeology, allow me to make the following historic connection. Charles Jacquin et Cie sold Chambord to Brown-Forman in 2006 for $255 million. Soon after that sale, the next generation of the Cooper family that owns Charles Jacquin launched two liqueur brands that have become wildly popular: Rob Cooper launched St-Germain elderflower liqueur, and John Cooper launched Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur.
One more related step on this odd, archeological journey: This year, Rob Cooper has unearthed and re-launched another forgotten brand that his family produced in the mid-20th century: the purple-hued Crème Yvette. You can now find Crème Yvette in the finer cocktail joints in Washington, and very soon on liquor store shelves.
Yes, booze fans, the past is alive and well.
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