Last summer, I stumbled across aronia berries at the Carandale Farm's stand at at the Madison Farmer's Market. Aronia berries are also referred to as choke berries because of their tartness. They are considered a "superfruit" with three times the antioxidants of blueberries. Aronia berries can be turned into jam or jelly, juiced, made into a syrup, baked into a pie, bread, or another treat, or you can add it to your morning smoothie. In some countries they turn the berry into an herbal tea or into a wine. I, myself, was inspired by the Welsh and turned my aronia berries into a liqueur.
I simply evenly distributed the aronia berries in the jars and then added sugar (1-1/2 cups sugar per 2 cups of aronia / chokeberries- you will never hear me say this again, but err on the side of more. It is a very astringent berry), and then filled the jars with vodka (I choose local Door County Vodka for my liquor). Then I sealed the jars tightly and place then stored them in my cabinet for a little over five months. For a one month process try this recipe). I occasionally would shake up the jars during this time.
Then over a week ago I finally opened one of the jars. I have experimented with a few recipes, from other cocktails to baking, but the liqueur is still rather tart and does not always pair well. My husband feels the this particular liqueur has a medicinal taste.
Luckily, I discovered the aronia berry liqueur (in moderation) works wonderfully in a Wisconsin tradition: the Brandy Old Fashioned. So ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Aronia Berry Old Fashioned.
2 ounces brandy or bourbon
0.5 to 1 ounce of aronia berry liqueur (according to taste)
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube or 1 ounce of simple syrup
2 orange slices (muddle)
Dash of lemon-lime soda (or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon) to fill
Garnish with an orange slice
Muddle the sugar cube (or simple syrump) with the bitters and orange slice in a glass Add the brandy/ bourbon and aronia berry liqueur. Stir. Then if you prefer, add ice and then top with lemon-lime soda (or sparkling water, which is my preference). Then garnish with an orange slice.
Basically the aronia berry replaces the cherry element in the old-fashioned, which means you can alter your favorite old-fashioned recipe to work with the aronia berry liqueur.
You could also use a dash of liqueur in your sparkling water for flavor or check out: Aerona, a Welsh brand of aronia berry liqueur in the UK. Aerona has a list of other cocktails perfect for aronia berry liqueuer, including the next cocktail I hope to try:
Pour 15-30ml of Aerona liqueur into a glass, and add 150ml of champagne or sparkling wine then serve.