La Zaragozana’s Ne Plus Ultra

La Zaragozana's Ne Plus Ultra

It’s not often you come across a cocktail that so successfully combines six liqueurs, and especially not one that does so with equal measurements. I somehow graced over this daring conglomeration on my first … ok, 50th time through The Gentleman’s Companion Vol. II, but I sure am glad I found it.

I would expect this to be a grandfather’s specialty – the drink he pulls out every year for Christmas or Thanksgiving, offering it to everyone, who in turn politely decline, much to his delight. His wrinkled hands would pour each liqueur with a steadiness reserved for just this occasion. And he would strain so delicately that the pastis formed a marble-like mosaic on the surface, coalescing into a spiral cloud a few moments later.

La Zaragozana’s Ne Plus Ultra

  • 1/2oz apricot brandy
  • 1/2oz Benedictine
  • 1/2oz Chartreuse
  • 1/2oz Cointreau
  • 1/2oz cognac
  • 1/2oz creme de cacao
  • 1 dash pastis

Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

From: The Gentleman’s Companion Volume II: The Exotic Drinking Book, Charles H. Baker, Jr.


You get hints of all the liqueurs as each sip manages to find every taste bud on your tongue. It’s very sweet, but in a good “sipping Chartreuse” kind of way. You’re left with a clean, slick-mouthed feeling that is quite welcoming. The Benedictine just hovers there at the end, too. Nice.

Lemon Peel or No?

Baker’s recipe calls for no garnish, but I was searching for something to cut into the sweetness just a little bit. Could the crisp aroma of lemon oil trick my palette without interrupting the flavors? Perhaps. The verdict is still out. I’m wary of actually adding some acidity to this drink, but maybe a hint would be worth it. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

10 Responses to “La Zaragozana’s Ne Plus Ultra”

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10 Comments to “ La Zaragozana’s Ne Plus Ultra”
  1. DeanNo Gravatar says:

    You’re gonna make me finally buy that bottle of Chartreuse, aren’t you?

    Which Chartreuse did you use – green or yellow?

  2. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Yes! A bottle of Chartreuse is a must.

    I’d go with the green. The number of cocktails that use yellow and green is pretty similar, and I think the green is better on its own since it’s less sweet. It does come at a hefty price, though. Usually right under $40.

  3. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    Let’s see…I’ve got the brandy, the Cointreau and the creme de cacao, but not the others. Time for a shopping trip! (Especially for the pastis- I can’t put that off any longer.)

  4. erik_flannestadNo Gravatar says:

    Dr. Bamboo

    If you can find the Henri Bardouin Pastis, I highly recommend it over the usual Pernod, Herbsaint, or Ricard.

    It is a much more interesting and complex spirit.

    Oof, the ne plus ultra sounds sweet, though! I like your addition of lemon.

    As usual, Rick, quite a striking photo.

  5. RickNo Gravatar says:

    I love Henri Bardouin pastis. I wouldn’t say it blows the others out of the water, but is quite good – and cheaper! Of course it doesn’t exist in PA.

  6. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the tip Erik! But as Rick said, it’s likely nowhere to be found in Pennsylvania (a.k.a. “The State Time Forgot”) ;-)

  7. Ah, bummer.

    It’s pretty hard to find here in CA, as well. Only a couple liquor stores or suppliers carry it.

    I dunno if I’d say it blows the others out of the water, either. The Bardouin is just a bit more herbaceously complex, stronger, and not quite as sweet as Pernod, Ricard, or Herbsaint.

    These are all qualities I like.

    It’s more if I saw the Pernod and Bardouin at the liquor store, I’d pick up the Bardouin. I wouldn’t pay to ship it from France or Chicago, if I couldn’t get it here. Especially, since pastis is usually used in such small quantities in cocktail recipes.

    Pretty essential, though, for those Beachcomber recipes, though. Not to mention Sazeracs!

  8. RickNo Gravatar says:

    To put it simply, my cocktail creation could not survive without readily available pastis. I’ve been using it nearly as much as bitters of late.

  9. MickNo Gravatar says:

    Here’s a question:

    I haven’t yet bought any pastis (pernod or what-have-you) and yet, I happen to be the holder of a not-exceptional bottle of real absinthe. I assume that would suffice where pastis is called for?


  10. Stevi DeterNo Gravatar says:

    I just made this tonight, using Lucid instead of pastis, and it’s more than sufficient.

    Another fantastic drink. I bookmarked this when it was first posted, and am glad I gave it a chance tonight. I really like how the different flavors dance around the tongue.

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