September 12, 2012

PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur Review

Welcome to the first in a series of Liquor Snob posts in partnership with PAMA pomegranate liqueur.

What is PAMA?
PAMA is a liqueur made with pomegranate juice, vodka, and a bit of tequila. It weighs in at 34 proof (17% ABV) and while you might expect it to be on the sweet side, it is actually quite tart, and adds a striking ruby red color to cocktails. It stays far away from the syrupy sweetness we've seen in other fruit liqueurs, and can actually be used in cocktails to reduce the overall sweetness of the drink.

The Look: As mentioned, PAMA is ruby red and really makes its presence known when added to a cocktail.

The Nose: Dark berry fruits are the first thing you'll smell, tart and fruity without being syrupy. There is an assertive (but not overwhelming) whiff of the vodka and tequila that form its base.

The Taste: More berries, with a surprising tartness that lingers on the tongue. It has a mouth feel similar to wine, and while it has a thickness to it, it's not syrupy. If you know what pomegranates taste like, you know pretty well what PAMA tastes like, and we mean that in a good way.

The Verdict: PAMA is available at our local liquor store for $19.99, and we feel this is a very fair price for a good product. In comparison to some of the other "pomegranate" liqueurs we've tried, PAMA is the clear winner, and we enjoyed playing with using it to modify our cocktails.

Our fellow bartenders started off a bit skeptical at first, but once they tasted it every single one of them had an idea for a cocktail, from just mixing it with soda for a good low-alcohol "session cocktail" to mixing it with beer (see our recipe ideas below, as well as some notes on using PAMA as a cocktail modifier).

We keep talking about the tartness of PAMA, and the the PAMAPros website for bartenders has the following sweetness/tartness information on its Liquid Facts page:

So what does all this sweetness & tartness malarkey mean when you're mixing a cocktail? Basically, it means PAMA can become another tool in your arsenal for striking the right balance when you mix a cocktail. Your typical cocktail should strike a flavor balance between strong (alcohol flavor), sour and sweet. Too much of any one aspect and the cocktail just won't taste right.

Cocktail Modifiers
As a bartender, it's important that I have a big arsenal of what PAMA calls "cocktail modifiers" to make sure every drink strikes the right balance. Equally important, I like to include things in my drinks that introduce an element of surprise. I love mixing a drink for someone, watching them take a sip, process the flavors, and say "that's delicious - what makes it taste like X?"

Some examples of modifiers we use include:

  • Liqueurs: For a cocktail like a vodka gimlet, we substitute St. Germain elderflower liqueur for simple syrup, to add a bit of a floral baseline.

  • Spirits: A splash of flavored genever (we use red currant or passionfruit) added to a champagne cocktail will add some complex elements, and since most of our customers haven't had genever it's a nice surprise.

  • Fruit: Even something as simple as muddling a lime with the other fruit when making an Old Fashioned can add a unique twist.

  • Assorted Flora & Fauna: We've made cocktails using everything from rose water to bacon to pickle long as it's interesting and helps us strike a balance.

PAMA lends itself to this modification in a number of ways - changing the color of a cocktail, bringing tartness to the flavor, and even affecting the mouth feel.

Our PAMA Cocktail Recipes:
We experimented with a few cocktails - adding PAMA as an additional flavor or a substitution - and below are a few of our favorites.

PAMA Kir Royale: In a champagne flute we combined Cava Brut, a splash of OJ, a splash of Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, and an ounce of PAMA. The result had a beautiful deep red color, the tartness of orange and pomegranate, and a nice little ginger tinge on the back end.

PAMArtini: We know they already have a PAMA martini on their website, but we went a slightly different way. We did 2 shots of Bombay Sapphire, 1 shot of PAMA and a splash of dry vermouth and stirred with ice. A splash of tonic for texture, and it was, in the words of the patron who tried it, "silly delicious."

PAMAgose: This isn't quite a recipe yet, but one we're working on...we want to mix PAMA with Leipziger Gose, a beer flavored with coriander and salt, and make a beer cocktail. When we head back down to the bar we're going to experiment with it and we'll let you know what we come up with.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." The company who sponsored it compensated us via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.". We'd also like to thank PAMA for sending us samples of their product to review.

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at September 12, 2012 6:06 AM
Recent Comments

Try 1 part Pama to 4 parts Bombay Sapphire for an interesting martini.

Posted by: Charles at September 16, 2012 8:57 PM
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