A Taste of Harlem

Harlem750BL_00054CMYKgradient_LOWRESThe best part of writing a blog about spirits and cocktails is the opportunity that it creates to taste lots of new spirits and cocktails! Seems obvious, I suppose, but it means more than you might think. The opportunity to try something new is great, but the opportunity to do so along with other people whose company you enjoy and whose opinion you respect – that’s much more meaningful.

This past week, I joined some of my favorite people – fellow bloggers @nybarfly, @lincolnwrites, @selenawrites, and @sweetblogomine – to taste Harlem, a new spirit distilled in Holland (named after the Dutch town Haarlem), and based on an herbal blend that the Dutch call Kruiden. At first blush, one might notice some similarities to Jagermeister, in that Harlem is definitely a dark, herbal spirit, intended to be poured as a shot, and definitely best served ice cold.

However, while I’m not really a “shot person” either way, I found Harlem to be much smoother than Jager; certainly herbal, but more well rounded with a nice citrus finish (the result of a strong presence of mandarin in the blend.) We tried Harlem in a few different combinations, include as a straight shot, on the rocks, and blended with common mixers like Cola and Ginger Ale. (I actually found the Harlem and Ginger Ale to be my favorite!) These mixed variations could be served either as shots (1oz Harlem and .5oz cola, for example), or over ice as a tall drink.

While Harlem has been a closely held family recipe for decades, they’re just in the process of launching in the US now. It has started to show up in major markets, and will be rolled out across the country in the coming months. The suggested retail price is around $22 for a 750ml bottle.

Unfortunately, our resident blogger/mad scientist @halw (of amuddledthought.com) wasn’t able to join us for the tasting, but I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of cocktails he can whip up with Harlem. Stay tuned.


Tags: Harlem, herbal, shots

5 Responses to “A Taste of Harlem”

  1. Zac Says:

    A great shot or cocktail with this new HARLEM is 1.5oz Harlem, .75oz apple schnapps, and cranberry juice served on the rocks (add club soda to take away sweetness if desired). Love the brand here in Wisconsin!

  2. paulusfranciscus Says:

    Yeah sure. You believe this, you’ll believe anything.

    There’s no such thing as a decades old secret herbal spirit called Harlem or even Haarlem in Holland. The makers of this stuff are also the makers of Ketel One Vodka: well, there’s no such thing as Dutch vodka. Or Wodka.

    It’s a marketing gimmick, playing an Ye Olde Worlde Tricke on the unsuspecting young of America.

    If you really want an Olde Worlde boozy spirit, then get someone to import some of Rutte’s Oude Genever (Old Jenever, or old gin) to your USofA. Five year old, twelve year old, doesn’t matter. Always lots better than your Ketel One Vodka. Or get someone to import Weduwe Joustra’s Beerenburg (The old Widow Joustra’s Beerenburg; a really old herbal bitter, based on real age-old family recipes. They invented the Dutch herbal bitters business).

    OTOH, if you don’t mind being f**ked by some marketing geeks: do enjoy your Harlem.

  3. paulusfranciscus Says:

    By the way…. Why I know all this? I live in Holland, I am Dutch. And I know my licquors. And spirits.

  4. Josh Says:

    There’s no question that the back story to Harlem is marketing; that’s what marketing is :-) And as I said in the post, I’m not really much for “shot” spirits myself. But I thought Harlem had an interesting taste to it, and regardless of whether people buy the story behind it, I’d encourage people to try it themselves before passing judgment. Just my 2 cents.

    Thanks for your comment!


  5. Kamikaze Drink Says:

    Kamikaze Drink…

    [...]A Taste of Harlem | Spirited Cocktails[...]…

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