Made since 1863, to a secret recipe that includes sage, coriander, anise and other herbs and spices as well as dried peels of the four different kinds of oranges, Elixir d'Anvers emerges from its octagonal bottle a fluorescent yellow hue. The liqueur’s distinctive sweet aroma offers an appetising blend of herb, spice and citrus notes, while in the mouth it is full-bodied, lusciously sweet and similarly complex. Despite the sweetness the overall effect is surprisingly invigorating, with a palate-cleansing, somewhat medicinal, drying herbal finish.
With its reputation as a cure for an upset stomach, many Belgians keep a bottle of Elixir d'Anvers in their medicine cabinets and it is not unusual for that country’s centenarians to attribute their longevity to a daily nightcap of the famous liqueur.
While I prefer to sip Elixir d'Anvers neat - and preferably from in its distinctive special glass - it also makes a great base for cocktails with citrus juices. Belgians sometimes enjoy it over ice or with tonic or soda and, given its sweet, citrus notes, it’s easy to see why they often serve it with hot pancakes and pastries.