A typical smash cocktail includes whiskey or another spirit, fresh fruit and herbs. With a good Curaçao, just three ingredients are elevated to something impressive.
Triple sec is a liquor cabinet staple, but it’s only recently that I’ve begun experimenting with higher end bottles. I used to buy the cheap stuff, since it’s being mixed anyway, but a nice bottle makes a big difference. You shouldn’t be trying to hide the flavors of your ingredients, you should be accentuating them. On their own, cheap bottles of triple sec just taste like artificially flavored sugar syrup, and they don’t add any complexity to your cocktails.
During my last trip to the liquor store I picked up a bottle of Pierre Ferrand Curaçao on a whim. Curaçao is a type of triple sec made with a brandy as its base and flavored with bitter orange peels. This bottle is based on a 19th century recipe — sweet, but more spice than Cointreau, for example. While Cointreau is almost too cloying on its own, I would consider sipping the Pierre Ferrand over ice.
I found this recipe searching for ways to use this particular Curaçao. If you can’t find it, use another good (not blue) bottle.
curaçao smash (source)
makes 1 cocktail
An orange quarter
1 oz. Pierre Ferrand Curaçao
1 oz. bourbon (I used Bulleit)
Muddle the orange quarter. Add Curaçao and bourbon and 5 ice cubes. Shake and pour without straining into a rocks glass.