Cigar Aficionado

Straight From the Barrel: American Liqueur -- Redcliff

Jazz, barbecue, baseball, Bourbon, Mickey Mouse… You might want to add one more item to that list of things that are quintessential American originals: Redcliff.

Redcliff has recently punched in, calling itself "America's first proprietary premium liqueur." It's an idea that seems entirely overdue (unless you think of Southern Comfort as a liqueur and don't limit your concept of America to within the borders of the U.S. of A.). At any rate it's an interesting concept in a world dominated by flavored drinks from Europe, such as vermouth, Campari, Bailey's Irish Cream, Grand Marnier, Jägermeister and Pimm's Cup.

However you fall on the question of whether this drink is first, it is hard to fault Redcliff on its relative American-ness. Franklin Arcella, the developer of Corazon Tequila and Captain Morgan rum, has created a drink that smacks of vanilla cola and comes in a bottle fashioned after a Western-style hip flask with a desert motif.

To the vanilla and cola flavors are added 13 other "mysterious ingredients," and we're guessing cinnamon is one of them as Redcliff has a quite spicy sort of cough-syrup taste to it as well. It also has a sweet orange component. While Arcella, who owns a chain of Davidoff cigar stores in Las Vegas with his son Matt, isn't tipping his hand on the identity of the three proprietary spirits in the blend, we will take a flier that rum and blended whiskey made the team.

The company's projected customer profile includes customers at university bars, as well as country western, rodeo and NASCAR fans. The creators refer to the words of John Wayne, who said: "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway." That's kind of a poser.

Serving suggestions are neat, chilled and on the rocks, as well as a host of rugged frontier-sounding cocktails that include Jagged Cliff (Redcliff and Jägermeister), Double Red Slammer (Redcliff and Redbull) and Fedcliff All-American (Redcliff and Bourbon).