The Key Lime Pie Cocktail [Original Recipe]

A few days ago my flatmates and I visited some friends for a Sunday roast dinner. My flatmate had made a Key Lime Pie for dessert, and although we were stuffed full of roast and vegetables, we all agreed it was a pretty epic final course! I wanted to make a cocktail that tasted similar, to get all the benefits of the beautifully balanced flavours without the filling, creamy, biscuity bulk. So here’s the process of how I created a new recipe for a “Key Lime Pie” cocktail.

A slice of Key Lime Pie

Citrus and Cream don’t mix

Rose's Lime Cordial

This is too much lime cordial.

I knew this, but I seemed to temporarily forget it later on in this process… However, from the start I knew that trying to get both the creamy and lime-citrus flavours of the dessert into the glass would only work with a lime cordial rather than fresh juice, so that was my starting point. I had looked up “Key Lime Pie” recipes online, but only found ones based on vanilla vodka, pineapple juice and fresh lime. No cream or more interesting ingredients in sight. So I experimented…

Choosing the base spirit

Moskovskaya Osobaya Russian VodkaVodka is a safe choice when you want your main flavours to come from the other ingredients, but I usually feel using a plain Vodka in a cocktail means you’re missing out on the potential for an extra flavour dimension. I didn’t try whisky or brandy, thinking that their flavours most likely wouldn’t suit the rest, and I didn’t try rum, although I have made a note to try this again with a few different rums to see what comes of it. I first tried East London Liquor Company’s Batch no.1 Gin, which is delicious, but gave the drink too much juniper flavour for my liking, and realised that most others would do the same, so circled back around to Moskovskaya Vodka from our March cocktail kit to let the other flavours be the stars of the drink.

Adding flavour to the “Vodka-lime”

Licor 43I already knew from the start I wanted to use Licor 43, the newest addition to my bar, so the choice of base spirit was actually made with equal parts Licor 43 and Rose’s Lime Cordial. Licor 43 has 43 different ingredients, many kept secret, but one of the most prominent is a delicious sweet vanilla. This flavour with the sweet-yet-sour lime from the cordial does an excellent job of getting towards the main flavour profile of the key lime pie, but it’s still missing the creaminess and the biscuit base.

The Biscuit

My first thought was to use Lotus Biscuit Spread! This is something I discovered in the local shop and have been playing with a little bit. It tastes exactly like the buttery biscuit of the same name and works well on toast with a chocolate spread, or to dip apple slices into. Unfortunately I’d been enjoying a little too much of it with my apples, so I didn’t have any to hand. I have a feeling it’s too viscous to work as-is, but I’m definitely going to experiment with an apple-biscuit cocktail soon!

Mozart Chocolate BittersIn the end my choice of ingredient for the biscuitiness (probably not a word, but let’s pretend it is) was simply a few dashes of Mozart Chocolate Bitters. Far from being a sickly sweet milk chocolate flavour, this adds a strong chocolate aroma, but actually more of a subtle but rich cocoa flavour, and with the other ingredients it blends into something fairly close to digestive biscuit.

Tying it together and garnishing

The Bitter Truth Orange BittersIt was still not quite there so I wanted to try a few other options. I had picked out Green Chartreuse and Velvet Falernum to experiment with, but decided they would add too much complexity to what I already had. Instead I tried 2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters and loved what it did to the drink. Just a tiny bit more sweetness to cut through the lime, and a little more orange-peel bitterness to balance the sweet and sour.

All that was left was the cream, and I was pretty clever with this one… I added double cream. Yep. I tried it both floated on top of the drink, and shaken with the other ingredients. The flavour was much the same, but I liked the look of the glass with the float slightly more.

Here’s where I messed it up a little. I tried a lime-zest garnish, grated onto the surface of the cream, and forgot that this would cause some curdling. Not recommended. Instead, I’d suggest some chocolate powder sprinkled over the top to garnish.

The final recipes

I think there are actually 2 drinks here. The ingredients without the cream make a very pleasant drink, but it’s no Key Lime Pie without the cream and chocolate. Try both, and experiment yourself. If you have any improvements or new ideas, leave a comment below. Enjoy!

A Key Lime Pie cocktail and the ingredients to make one

Un-named Lime and Vanilla Cocktail 

  • 50ml Vodka
  • 15ml lime cordial
  • 15ml Licor 43
  • 2 dash chocolate bitters
  • 2 dash orange bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lime peel or grated zest.

TASTE rating – 7/10

The [TASTE] Key Lime Pie Cocktail

  • 50ml Vodka
  • 15ml lime cordial
  • 15ml Licor 43
  • 2 dash chocolate bitters
  • 2 dash orange bitters
  • 20ml double cream

Stir all the ingredients except cream with ice in a mixing glass. Fine-strain into a chilled martini glass. Dip the circular end of your bar spoon below the surface of the drink and slowly pour double creme down the spiralled shaft of the spoon, so that it slowly floats and spreads out on the surface of the cocktail. Garnish with a dusting of chocolate powder.

TASTE rating – 8/10

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