“We first encountered kümmel in a funny-looking bottle featuring an image of a ‘kaiser penguin,'” says Billy Helmkamp, co-owner and co-beverage director at Chicago’s The Whistler, in reference to Gilka Kaiser-Kümmel.
The unique savoriness of the unusual—and, in the States, rare—spirit immediately intrigued, though. “Kümmel stands out among liqueurs … the taste and aroma are heavy on caraway and black pepper,” he says. “You wouldn’t think to use [it] in a tiki drink, but that’s exactly what we did with it.”
In his South Pole Swizzle, those flavors are a welcome, balancing addition to a tiki trio of passion fruit syrup, citrus and bitters.