Licor 43: Spanish Vanilla Cocktail Heaven for Mom!

In The Imbibery and Distillery by Christine McKellar

Well, hello again old friend, Cuarenta y Tres or Licor 43. Whichever variation you choose to call my long ago favorite Spanish liquor by, I bet your tongue won’t quibble about it when it comes to the divine vanilla/butterscotch/toffee flavor with hints of honey and a touch of citrus that has made this ancient recipe endure with the same 43 ingredients  since 209 B.C.

In the 80s my fiancé and I over the course of a month drank all the Cuarenta Y Tres the bartender had on hand at a highly popular restaurant called Chateau Vegas that used to be at Paradise Road and Desert Inn. The fiancé and I married and today I’m a mom. Here’s a Mother’s Day cocktail recipe in remembrance of those good old days. It’s aptly called “Little Black Dress.”




2 cups water

½ cup Sugar

16  cracked cardamom pods or 8-10 drops essential oil of cardamom

2 cups Milk

1 ¼ tbsp Cocoa Powder

1 pinch Salt

3 oz bittersweet chocolate

2 oz Licor 43

2 oz Coconut Rum



To make the cardamom syrup: in a small saucepan bring the water to a boil, then add the sugar and cardamom pods or oil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let steep for 30 mins then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks.

Heat the milk, cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan until fully mixed. Whisk in the chocolate until completely melted. Add the Licor 43, coconut run and the cardamom syrup. Serves two.