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An Evening with Bols

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 3, 2010

Lucas Bols advertises itself as the oldest distillation company active in the world today. With an origin that traces itself back to 1575, it is hard to argue the claim. After 435 years the company has grown to become one of the leading global concerns in the spirits industry. Bols has a presence in over 110 countries selling liqueurs, vodka, gin, and genever. The wide range of  liqueurs is particularly impressive. With 36 naturally flavoured liqueurs, the company can boast the widest range of liqueur flavours in the world.

Bols flavour Specialist Peter Van't Zelfde

Thus, when I was invited to spend an evening at the Devlin Lounge in Edmonton, to meet Bols Flavour Specialist, Peter Van’t Zelfde, I was delighted by the opportunity. It was an evening designed to bring bartenders, spirits aficionados, (and at least one blogger), together with the person actually responsible for some of the newest and coolest Bols flavours.  I mentioned bartenders first, because the evening was structured particularly to showcase the wide range of cocktails that Bols products can produce.  It is a fact that Lucas Bols boasts the largest database of cocktails in the world on their website.

I met and talked with Peter Van’t Zelfde and learned that all of Bols Liqueurs are made from natural flavours. These flavours have been extracted and/or distilled from natural base ingredients like fresh fruits and spices. Thus Bols Banana is flavoured using real banana flavours extracted from ripe fruit. Bols Cacao White is flavoured with real cacao  flavours distilled from roasted cacao beans.

I was able to talk with Peter after wards and inspect the real extracted and distilled flavours.  I was allowed to open the small sample containers and smell the actual essences and extracts used to make the wide range of Bols flavours.  Peter told me that all his created flavours are approximations.  Extracted flavours must be produced through an extraction medium.  Bols Banana, for example is extracted in a molasses spirit medium which imparts a light yet noticeable rum flavour into the extract.  Distilled flavours, on the other hand, like the Bols Cacao White, are usually true to the heart of the flavour, but subtleties of flavour at the head and tail of the distillation are lost.  The job of the Bols Flavour Specialist is to capture as much of the flavour essence as he can with as little alteration as possible.  Peter’s job is to literally play with flavour extracts and essences to determine new ways to capture them and of course to create new flavours for the Bols brand.  Recently Peter created the Bols Green Tea liqueur to add yet another flavour to the line-up.

Of course the evening would not have been complete without sampling a few of the Bols flavours and Bols cocktails made by the Devlin Lounge bartenders. Here are a few of the Lucas Bols liqueurs (and recipes) which were served:

Bols Blue (in Electric Lemonade)

Bols Blue is a distinctive blue colour and its flavour is distilled from a blend of herbs, sweet red oranges, bitter Curacao oranges, and the Kinnow oranges.  Blue Bols has a complex, full orange aroma and taste.

15 ml Bols Blue
45 ml Bols Vodka
30ml fresh lemon juice
15 ml rich sugar syrup (2:1)
Lemon Lime Soda

Mix the first four ingredients over ice
Top with lemon lime soda.
(Served in a short tumbler)

Bols Melon (in Pearl Harbour)

Bols Melon liqueur is light green liqueur flavoured with real melon extracts.  It carried flavours of cantaloupe, honeydew and even a hint of kiwi onto my palate.

30 ml Bols Melon Liqueur
30 ml Vodka
120 mls Fresh Pineapple juice


Shake with ice
Strain and serve in a short tumbler

Bols Banana (in Banana Moo)

Bols Banana is a rich yellow liqueur with the extracted flavour of ripe banana. The flavour is enhanced with vanilla and almond as well as herb and spice extracts.

45ml Bols Banana
45ml Cream

Shake over ice
Strain into a short tumbler with ice

Garnish with a maraschino cherry

Bols Cacao White

In order to achieve a clear colour for Bols Cacao White, the roasted cacao beans  are not percolated (extracted), rather they are distilled. This gives this Cacao White a light aroma and flavour.

I missed the Bols Cacao White cocktail, but I was given a very small plastic cup of the liqueur to sample on its own.  The flavour was reminiscent of sweet European chocolates.

* All Photos courtesy Andrea Cooper, Account Executive. NKPR
* All Bottle shots courtesy Lucas Bols

My thanks to the guys and gals at Beam Global who forwarded the invitation to the event from Lucas Bols to myself.  I shall revisit these Bols flavours in a future posting when I plan to showcase a new cocktail which I have created in honor of the 5th annual Bols Around The World Cocktail Competition. Stay tuned!


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