Paris, 1981, Dr Viktor Zeltser and his wife Lillian Zeltser were celebrating their wedding anniversary, when Dr Zeltser, a notorious book-worm, couldn't resist visiting the many old book shops nestled on the Left Bank of the Seine river.
Hours later, Dr Zeltser proudly emerged with an amazing rare edition of Guide Culinary by Auguste Escoffier and an age-damaged edition of Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.
At the hotel Dr Zeltser tried to mend the book with sticky tape borrowed from the reception desk when a folded page fell out of the book - 'Bibendum Amoris' was the title of this neatly hand-written recipe.
To his wife’s surprise Dr Zeltser read the text and explained that it was written in Latin, which he was familiar with, having a medical background.
He also clarified that judging by the botanicals listed there as ingredients, it was some-sort of libido stimulating recipe, and decided that whoever left that recipe in the book had actually experienced it and left it there to be found by the next admirer of Decameron.
The Original Recipe
On their return to Melbourne, Australia, Dr Zeltser decided to make up the ‘Bibendum Amoris’ recipe to see if it would work.
The recipe consisted of 18 rare botanicals, which could not be found in Australia.
The couple considered sourcing them from warehouses, however were told that it is common for warehouse sourced botanicals to sit on shelves for years while losing valuable active powers.
They continued their search and after months of talking to herbalists, naturopaths, professional botanists, and pharmaceutical companies they decided to collect them at their terra originale (place of origin) where they grow wild and are highly prized due to their high potency.
In search of Botanicals
While on the very first trip in search of aphrodisiacs, the couple discovered that while some may be questionable or merely legends, those listed in the recipe were real and survived till now when their special properties can finally be decrypted and supported by science.
The more time Dr Zeltser and his wife spent on researching these unique plants, the more they were sucked into the aphrodisiac hunt. Eventually this grew into their life’s obsession.
After almost 10 years of research and trial and error, the botanicals were sourced.
However, since the original recipe contained only ingredients, but no directions for preparation, Dr Zeltser had to devise a unique process of preserving the valuable and often fragile active elements of botanicals.
As each plant contained different phyto-properties, after countless tests and experiments, he found that each one must be distilled separately because the method for one botanical may not necessarily be effective for another botanical.
1st Bottle of Aphrodope Herbal Liqueur
Finally, in October 2007 the hard work was rewarded with a small test-batch of perfect ‘Bibendum Amoris’ – smooth, aromatic, and very potent, which they called ‘Aphrodope’.
Most of that batch was used in tests and at a Dinner party which the couple hosted for close friends to celebrate their success.
To their surprise their guests all called them the next day, asking for more Aphrodope, as they enjoyed the experience it produced. Each guest had a different experience, however they all wanted more of it.
Realising the significance of this, Viktor and Lillian began producing Aphrodope commercially as a liqueur.