A Diverse Collection of Historically Inspired Liqueurs, Absinthes & Bitters
The Spirit of History
Tempus Fugit Spirits is dedicated to the glory of the well-made cocktail. The goal is to source and recreate rare spirits and liqueurs from the pages of history to satisfy the demands of the most discerning connoisseur. One of the founders of Tempus Fugit Spirits created the modern protocol for the highly acclaimed Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe. He is also responsible for the creation or co-development of over 25 European absinthe brands since 2001.
The Return of Absinthe
After the re-legalization of absinthe in the United States in 2007, large US importers showed little interest in small-batch, high-quality distilled European absinthe from historic protocols. Undeterred, Tempus Fugit became an independent US importer, with the goal to be the sole US agent for several premium, award winning absinthes from the historic absinthe-producing regions in Switzerland and France. Tempus Fugit is at the forefront of this exciting and resurgent spirits category, which has now become a fixture in any well-stocked drinking establishment and personal spirits collection.
Along with the world's finest absinthes, Tempus Fugit was determined to seek out fine rare liquors that were once staples in classic pre-Prohibition cocktails, which have been lost over time. In most cases, Tempus Fugit recreated these liqueurs in-house using historic 19th-century protocols, many cross-referenced in several languages, to arrive as close in taste to these forgotten spirits as is possible, or surpass them. From rare fruit, flower and plant liqueurs to bitters, amari, vermouths and chinati, Tempus Fugit prides itself in finding out what's missing from the back bar of the most discerning bartenders. Tempus Fugit's focus is on what is often called a cocktail "modifier," those spirit-based ingredients used to transform whisky, gin, rum, etc. into a cocktail. Today, this category is often abused by industrial methods of production, artificial flavors and colors. It's known that these liqueurs were created in the past to be drunk alone, as aperitifs or digestifs, and were made with great pride and care by the best distilleries and liquorists. Tempus Fugit follows in their noble steps, and it is with great pride that they bring the "Spirit of History" to the modern cocktail enthusiast.
This is a bitter apéritif liqueur created following the "Italian Bitter of Turin" recipe dating from the 1860s. It was originally produced in Turin, Italy under the name Torino Gran Classico. The recipe was purchased in 1925 by the small Swiss distillery E. Luginbühl, and a version has been produced for mostly local consumption ever since. Gran Classico was developed by reverting back to the original recipe; it is made from a maceration of 25 aromatic herbs and roots including wormwood, gentian, bitter orange peel, rhubarb, and hyssop. The maceration also creates a naturally attractive, golden-amber color, and no additional coloring is added. Gran Classico Bitter stands alone on ice or with seltzer water, but has amazing range as a modifier for many recipes and spirits. It has offered the cocktailian culture a more complex, non-red alternative bitter ingredient for the world-famous Negroni. 28% ABV
Natural golden-amber color. Aroma presents a multi-faceted bitter-sweetness of orange peel, gentian root and wormwood mingled with rhubarb and vanilla. The viscosity immediately highlights the sweet rhubarb, then the bitter gentian root and orange peel blend with wormwood, vanilla and resiny notes. Deep, layered and lingering finish that balances and alternates between the sweet and bitter.
- Chairman's Trophy, 97 Points - Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2016
- ★★★★★ Highest Recommendation, "130 Best Spirits in the World" “Entry is all about the rhubarb upfront, then in midpalate the gentian dominates before the orange peel comes rushing back in the finish as well as a piny/resiny quality that makes the aftertaste smashingly delicious. Campari drinkers take note: the ultimate expression of Bitter.”- F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal, 2010
- "13 Best 5 Star Liqueurs and Absinthes for 2010" - F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal, 2010
Although categorized under Italian Amari (Bitters), Fernet is its own bitter category and is most often listed under Elixir/Elisir in Italian liquor manuals when not simply called "Fernet." The extremely bitter (amarissimo is an apt description) concoction has conflicting data as to its origins. Arecent Tempus Fugit discovery of an original Italian invoice and recipe attributed Fernet to a monk named Frate Angelico Fernet, who may have been responsible for the origin of many herbal tonics and elixirs. Fernet is a historical French Burgundy surname — pronounced "Fair-Nay" and underwent many spelling transformations. It was most likely created to counteract the effects of cholera and malaria, but went on to be used for everything from a laxative to a hangover cure. Today there are still several Italian Fernet producers (with the largest making so much of the world's production that some actually believe Fernet is a brand name), but most is made in tiny quantities for local rural Italian consumption. The various known recipes most typically share ingredients such as aloe, saffron, quinquina, gentian, anise, angelica, mint and myrhh. This latter ingredient (along with saffron) seems to define and create the backbone of the best Fernet. 44% ABV
Deep colored, almost black, with golden reflections from the expensive addition of fine saffron, there is no additional coloring added. The saffron aromas mix with lightly mentholated and medicinal notes. The bitterness is immediately detected on the first sip, but evolves with light mint, menthol flavors that are surprisingly balanced and a subtle sweetness carries the finish on for a long while, as the bitterness becomes surprisingly engaging. This amazing liqueur can be sipped on its own, but shines in skillfully-made cocktails, especially the Employees Only and the Toronto. Tempting to take straight as a shot, if one stops to savor it, Fernet del Frate Angelico will instantly become the go-to sipper for the first and the last drink of the night.
Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Cacao is based on a 19th-century recipe, cross-referenced in English and French. Terroir is important for ingredients, and the original source of cacao for the best Crème de Cacao was cacao from Venezuela while the best source of vanilla was from Mexico, so it was important that these two ingredients be specifically sourced to reproduce the best quality of Crème de Cacao. The raw cacao is distilled and the distillate is then macerated with additional cacao and crushed whole vanilla bean. The process not only gives a depth of character, but also naturally colors the Crème de Cacao a medium brown. 24% ABV
Unctuous, syrupy thick, light molasses brown color. Off the charts sweetness and beaniness, with unequal amounts of cocao (two-thirds) and vanilla (one-third) fragrances in the opening whiffs; the powdered cocoa comes to the forefront in the second inhalations, lusciously so. Amazingly cocoa-like and buttery at entry; midpalate is spot-on dark chocolate-like, but neither bitter nor semisweet; it's just flat-out sweet. The suggestions are to either throw in a splash of soda water for a digestif or utilize this gummy liqueur in cocktails that call for crème de cacao.
- 95 Points, "Top 100 Spirits for 2016" - Wine Enthusiast, 2016
- ★★★★★ Highest Recommendation “The best I've tasted, period.”- F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal, 2011
Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Menthe is fully distilled from botanicals and is unique in its genre. After cross-referencing manuals in three languages, it was discovered that a true historic crème de menthe is quite a complex spirit, and cannot be made correctly with mint alone. After finding a few recipes that remained faithful in these different languages, the necessary plant ingredients were assembled and numerous test distillations we conducted. The botanicals are macerated and then fully distilled; the finished distillate is reduced with spring water and cane sugar, similar to the Crème de Cacao. While fully distilling botanicals for the Crème de Menthe is costly, and the heart of the distillation is quite small in yield. This method produces the best results and the most authentic product. 28% ABV
"Oyster shell/egg white appearance; clean and pure. The peppermint core aroma is absolutely dead-on and is incredibly fresh and herbaceous. Entry flavor is sweet and viscous to the touch but the minty flavor is genuine and intensely splendid; midpalate is long, luxurious and startlingly minty. This should be the only crème de menthe that astute bartenders who care about their craft will want. Excellent all the way." - F. Paul Pacult's The Spirit Journal
- ★★★★★ Highest Recommendation - F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal, 2011
Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Noyaux is a classic 19th-century French liqueur made with distilled apricot and cherry pit kernels, combined with bitter almonds and other botanicals. Its complex, nutty, tree fruit-sweet aroma and flavor has a slight touch of balancing bitterness on the finish. Many years of research and tests were needed to finalize the production techniques and secure local sources of the natural ingredients required by the original protocols. The garnet-red color comes from the addition of cochineal, as directed by the original formula. 30% ABV
Its flavor offers a complex "marzipan" note with sweet cherry undercurrent of aroma and flavor with a slight touch of balancing bitterness on the finish.
The late 19th to early 20th century was the "Golden Age" of French aperitif wines known as "quinquinas" or "kinas." Kinas were originally created to make quinine more palatable when administered to soldiers in the disease-plagued "colonies." They took on a life of their own as producers found combinations of ingredients that delighted the public and they took on their own styles following the tastes of the regions in which they were produced. Kina L'Aéro d'Or reflects an Alps-Provence style with white wine made from the Piedmont-grown cortese grape infused with cinchona bark, orange peel, wormwood and other exotic spices. It has a beautiful deep golden hue with an aroma of quince and fine marmalade, and a complex, mildly bitter taste that teases the tongue as its well-balanced sweetness prolongs the finish. Kina Aéro d'Or is absolutely spectacular in classic cocktails such as the 20th Century, Vesper or Corpse Reviver #2 and will easily find its way into many more cocktails of your own. L'Aéro d'Or (The Golden Aeroplane) is a tribute to the first flight across the English Channel, made in 1909 by Frenchman Louis Blériot in his creation, the monoplane. 18% ABV
It has a beautiful deep golden hue with an aroma of quince and fine marmalade, and a complex, mildly bitter taste that teases the tongue as its well-balanced sweetness and viscosity prolongs the finish.
- Chairman's Trophy, 98 Points, Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation, Great Value - Ultimate Wine Challenge, 2015
This unique and rare liqueur is based on a mid-19th-century French recipe and is made only in micro-batches by Swiss distiller Oliver Matter for Tempus Fugit Spirits. The protocol uses the finest French violets, traditionally hand-harvested in the sunny and historic Côte d'Azur, along the Mediterranean Sea, among the myriad of precious flowers cultivated in the region for the world's finest perfumes. 22% ABV
As a liqueur expression, as opposed to a "crème", the lower sugar-levels help maximize the natural floral aromatics.
Abbott's Aromatic Bitters represents over seven years of specialized research focusing on one of the most popular cocktail bitters in the world. Dozens of vintage Abbott's Bitters bottles were assembled from the pertinent eras which defined Abbott's history: pre-US Prohibition, Prohibition, and post-Prohibition. Special efforts were made to obtain bottles still containing the original bitters liquid. Labels and bottle glass manufacturing styles were studied to correctly date the bottles. Historic legal documents, US census records, newspaper articles, city business directories, business correspondence and advertising material were collected and studied, to try to piece together the birth, rise and eventual disappearance of C.W. Abbott & Company. The original recipe for Abbott's Aromatic Bitters has never been identified or passed down from the family, but after this research, we believe we know what the original bitters smelled and tasted like, even after 100 years of aging. We also know, based on the original name of C.W. Abbott's Angostura Bitters, adopted in 1872, and the many legal confrontations thereafter resulting that the use of the word Angostura was forced to be abandoned in 1908, and that the principal ingredient in this bitters was angostura (tree) bark. Angostura bark bitters were common during most of the 19th century, originating as a tonic alternative to cinchona bark. They eventually evolved by the last quarter of the 19th century into a highly-prized and internationally recognized style of cocktail bitters. From 1872 until 1908, various lawsuits against all producers of angostura bark bitters labeled as "Angostura Bitters" in any fashion, were instigated by the company of J.G.B. Siegert & Sons. Most producers gave up their brands or even businesses before going to court, and "angostura" bitters were eventually banned as a "type" of bitters, to be dominated by Siegert's Angostura Bitters, which did not even contain the bark, thus not truly reflecting the angostura bark flavor and aromas. This cocktail bitters, re-baptized under its pre-Prohibition name Abbott's Aromatic Bitters, and replicating its complex, flavor-enhancing profile, so prized in a Manhattan Cocktail, is the result of this research. 50% ABV
- 96 Points - International Review of Spirits, 2013
- ★★★★★ Highest Rated Bitters - Difford's Guide
Alessio Vermouth Bianco is an historic variation of Italian Sweet Vermouth, regarded as a "Vino di Moda" (fashion wine). The first "Vermouth Blanc" was most likely invented in Chambéry (now France) in the early 1880's, as a marketing effort to counter the traditional competition in Turin (now Italy), when these two cities were part of the Duchy of Savoy. Vermouth Blanc was made with a similar recipe as traditional sweet vermouth, but was filtered to be completely clear and was sometimes referred to as "Semi-sweet". Up to the end of the 19th century, it went mostly unnoticed, except as novelty in the Chambéry region. A few Italian producers decided to make their own, and Vermouth Bianco was introduced in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century. It was designed to attract a sophisticated '20th Century' palate, and more specifically to women of the era. Alessio Vermouth Bianco strives to capture the idea of a crystalline elegance in the glass and on the palate. Warm spices and mild bitterness are tempered with a bright, crisp citrus finish. Enjoy chilled on its own or as an alternative to traditional Italian Sweet Vermouths in your favorite classic cocktails. 18% ABV
Warm spices and mild bitterness are tempered with a bright, crisp citrus finish.
- 91 Points - Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2016
- 95 Points “Sip or mix this fresh, breezy bianco. Light straw in the glass, the aromas suggest ripe pears, white flowers and freshly mown grass. The smooth, medium-bodied palate echoes that delicate freshness, but adds more rounded fruit on the finish.”- Kara Newman, Wine Enthusiast, 2016
- Gold Medal - WSWA Tasting Competition, 2016
Alessio Vermouth Chinato is also based on a classic recipe from the late 19th century combined with the additional bittering of Cinchona bark and more than 25 other balancing herbs, including Grande and Petite Wormwood, and reflects an almost-lost style of bitter vermouth. The slightly lower ABV than the Vermouth di Torino Rosso helps highlight this Chinato vermouth's backbone and aromatics, making it a complex alternative to sweet vermouth in cocktails as well as excellent on its own. 16.5% ABV
The slightly lower ABV than the Vermouth di Torino Rosso helps highlight this Chinato vermouth's backbone and aromatics, making it a complex and interesting alternative to Sweet Vermouth in cocktails as well as eminently sippable on its own.
Based on a classic di Torino recipe from the late 19th century, Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso is designed to be enjoyed as what was commonly called a "Vino di Lusso" (luxury wine), a wine thoroughly consumed on its own. Created with a fine Piedmont wine as the base, this authentic Vermouth di Torino contains both Grande and Petite Wormwood, along with over 25 other pharmaceutical-grade herbs, roots and spices. As a result, this vermouth offers a full mouth-feel that contributes weight to a cocktail, and lightly bitter but bright, refreshing citrus and herbal notes that lengthen the finish. 17% ABV
This vermouth offers a full mouth-feel that contributes weight to a cocktail, and lightly bitter but bright, refreshing citrus and herbal notes that lengthen the finish.
- 91 Points “Landing on the more bitter end of the vermouth spectrum, almost feeling like a cross between sweet vermouth and amaro, this nut-brown bottling has a roots-and-herbs aroma with a dark berry-like hint in back. On the palate, it's plummy and mouthwateringly tart, with a just-bitter-enough finish that shows dried herbs, sarsaparilla and espresso.”- Kara Newman, Wine Enthusiast, 2016
- Double Gold Medal - WSWA Tasting Competition, 2015
Alessio Vino Chinato is a premium Italian aperitif wine made with the finest Nebbiolo d’Alba grapes – the same grape varietal used in the highly acclaimed Barolo wines that have been cultivated in the Piedmonte region of Italy sine the Middle Ages. Nebbiolo was the official wine of the dynastic Royal House of Savoy, and was often presented as a gift to visiting dignitaries. Alessio Vino Chinato is highlighted by bold red and black fruit aromas and youthful tannins with added herbal notes from aromatic herbs and a balanced bitter finish of Cinchona bark. Alessio Vino Chinato is an elegant and robust aperitif for use in any cocktail requiring a classic Italian Sweet Vermouth and can also be enjoyed chilled on its own before a meal, or after and is exceptional when paired with chocolate or sharp and blue cheeses. 16% ABV
Alessio Vino Chinato is highlighted by bold red and black fruit aromas and youthful tannins with added herbal notes from aromatic herbs and a balanced bitter finish of Cinchona bark. Alessio Vino Chinato is an elegant and robust aperitif for use in any cocktail requiring a classic Italian Sweet Vermouth and can also be enjoyed chilled on its own before a meal, or after and is exceptional when paired with chocolate or sharp and blue cheeses.
- Double Gold Medal, Best Vermouth - WSWA Tasting Competition, 2016
Vieux Pontarlier is craft-distilled in Pontarlier, France, the historic "Capital of Absinthe." Select botanicals and Pontarlier-grown wormwood, which is considered the finest in the world, are distilled in a chardonnay grape base spirit from Burgundy. Vieux Pontarlier was developed over a period of five years at one of the two last remaining absinthe distilleries still functioning in Pontarlier, using the distillery's original, pre-ban logbook notes and antique alembic stills designed specifically for making absinthe. 65% ABV
Pale peridot green. Slowing dripping ice-cold water produces a lightly green-tinged and billowy opalescent cloudiness. The aroma is fresh, yet slightly briny and spicy with lightly mentholated and cacao notes. The flavors are multi-layered, the grape spirit provides a complex base for subtle herbal undertones, the anise and fennel seed are sweet yet, well balanced, highlighting the minty/menthol taste of true Pontarlier wormwood.
- Chairman's Trophy, 98 Points - Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2016
- "130 Best Spirits in the World" - F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal, 2011
- "130 Best Spirits in the World" - F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal, 2010
Duplais Verte was first introduced to the European market in July 2005 and has the distinction of being the first "verte" (green-colored) absinthe to be released in Switzerland since the 1910 ban was lifted in 2005. Duplais' recipe is based directly on the highest quality absinthe "Suisse" protocols from the important 19th-century French distiller's manual, "Traité des Liqueurs et de la Distillation des Alcools" by P. Duplais, from whom it takes its name. Duplais uses both Pontarlier and Swiss wormwood, along with other botanicals which are grown on a Swiss plantation reserved exclusively for the finest pharmaceutical-grade herbs. The distillate is reduced to final strength using spring water from the Alps. The Blanche expression is clear in color, and is the only French-style clear Swiss absinthe available in the US market.
Duplais Swiss Absinthe Verte 68% ABV
Unique, golden/green hue. Slow forming louche with the addition of ice-water that develops suddenly into a thick milky finish with rich, golden green highlights. Wormwood and fennel develop on the nose with hints of coriander spice lifting above the meld of herbs. Full textured, rich, creamy mouth-feel with refreshing taste, substantial and complex aromas with marked fennel, coriander and wormwood notes.
- Silver Medal - San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2008
- Gold Medal, Best in Class - International Wine & Spirits Competition, 2006
- Absinthe of the Year - Swiss Liquor Board, 2006
Duplais Swiss Absinthe Blanche 60% ABV
Neat: completely crystal clear with pewter reflections. Warm, yet complexly herbal nose with hints of mentholated wormwood, ground coriander and candied angelica root. When louched with cold water, it produces a cloud-white opalescence in the glass, tinged with pewter. Full mouth-feel, silky, yet subdued, it tastes of a complex and heady blend of aromatic medicinal herbs with a lingering anis-bright sweetness that coats and caresses the tongue.
Absinthe Brevans is named for Jacques de Brevans, author of the French liquor-maker's manual, "La Fabrication des Liqueurs." It is based on a recipe in this book dating from 1897. The base alcohol is a balanced mixture of wine alcohol and marc, and the herbs used are sourced from the same region as those used by the most famous historical absinthe distillers, utilizing both Pontarlier and Swiss wormwood. Absinthe Brevans is colored naturally, and only with additional plants. The result is a highly complex, authentically reproduced absinthe, worthy of the best makers of the past. The H.R. Giger painting on this label, "Brain Salad Surgery II," was made famous in the 1970's as the cover art for the rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer's album of the same name. The original painting was stolen from an art show in Prague in 2005, and a reward has been offered by Giger himself for its return. 68% ABV
A very vibrant clear green color. Wonderful nose with a nice complex and tempting aroma.The wine alcohol base is notable and also a good portion of wormwood, green anise and fennel. Slight hints of coriander and a faint minty touch is also present. The addition of water enhances the overall aroma, releases more of the herbal complexity and produces a luxurious light green cloudiness. The mouth-feel is full, slightly dry but fresh, creamy and long. A true connoisseurs' Absinthe, among the finest made in modern times.
- 94 Points - Wine Enthusiast, 2015
Mansinthe by Marilyn Manson is a traditionally-made, Swiss-distilled absinthe commissioned and co-created by the experienced absinthe drinker and artist, Marilyn Manson. Absinthe has always been associated with controversial artists whose masterpieces were often considered shocking and scandalous at the time – those who pushed the bounds of 'normal' society. The artwork for the label is a watercolour painted by Marilyn Manson himself; a self-portrait entitled 'When I Get Old'. Its classic, traditional protocol and interesting color makes it a great introductory absinthe and it also shines in the Brunelle cocktail. 66.6% ABV
Unusual, yet natural green tint with light blue reflections. Slow forming louche giving way to a thick green/white opalescence. Earthy, musky aromas combine with alpine herbs and flowers. Initial flavors are round and savory with a full, buttery palate giving way to a balanced, refreshing and complex finish.
- Gold Medal - San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2008
Heritage is a French absinthe with a "vintage" personality, created in the historic distilling town of Fougerolles, south of the Alsace region. Produced in a 150-year-old distillery, it follows a traditional recipe including grande wormwood, fennel, green anise and other selected herbs. 68% ABV
Deep, well-infused amber green color. Unique, dark, under-forest and honey nose, smells of old memories. After ice-water is slowly added an intensely thick, yet reflective louche completely captures and reflects the undiluted green color on clouds. It is deeply perfumed with the Wormwood, Anis, and Fennel, the Coriander brings warmth and Chamomile balances its relaxing headiness. It is luxuriously thick, herbal, bitter-sweet and long on the palate. Very dominant in taste when mixed, Heritage Verte is best consumed slowly served via the traditional French Absinthe Drip method, or added to cocktails in well-considered dashes or rinses.
- 88 Points - Wine Enthusiast, 2015