Bols offers a heady blend of liqueurs

FOR the Dutch, Bols liqueurs would be synonymous in fame with say, the champagne of France, gin of England, or Bourbon in the United States.

In 1575, Lucas Bols, having mastered the art of preparing and flavouring spirits, set up a small distillery on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

He built a warehouse for the storage of mixing casks and raw materials and erected the still in the open air beside the river.

Using natural fruits and herbs and spices from newly discovered lands, he started to distil and create his liqueurs.

This was to prove the beginning of a select list of products which was to eventually make the name of Bols famous around the world.

Up to 1815, the business remained under direct family control.

With the death of the last direct descendent of Lucas Bols, the firm became known as Erven Lucas Bols, meaning the heirs of, or successor of, Lucas Bols.

Bols liqueurs usually have a strong distilled spirit base amplified with fruits, like the well-loved Dry Orange Curacao - sometimes individual herbs and spices are also used.

Among the liqueurs of Bols, one which is typically Dutch is the Advoccat.

Other deservedly popular Bols are the Blue Curacao and the Dry Orange Curacao.

Both are made from the Curacao oranges from the West Indies and date back to the 17th century.

The Blue Curacao is distilled from the dried peel of bitter Curacao oranges - sprinkling a peel from the sweet Valencia oranges. It gets its delightful blue from natural colouring agents.

There are, aside from these, the dark green Creme de Menthe which, in future, will be called Bols Teardrop. It is made of peppermint, apricot, peaches, coffee, cocoa, bananas, kiwi fruit and coconut.

Liqueurs were originally known as digestifs, a drink which settles the stomach and aids in digestion after a meal.

Liqueurs with ice cubes, lemonade or tonic make refreshing long drinks and cocktails, some well known - Snowball (using Advocaat); Blue Lagoon (Blue Curacao); Grasshopper (Creme de Menthe).

SNOWBALL: One measure Advocaat; Dash of lime cordial; Top up with lemonade; Serve cold. BLUE LAGOON: One measure Bols Blue Curacao; One measure vodka; Top up with lemonade; Lots of ice. GRASSHOPPER: 1/3 White Creme de Cacao; 1/3 Creme de Menthe; 1/3 Freshcream; Shake with ice.