The Calvados Cocktail

The Calvados Cocktail

Calvados Cocktail

Calvados Cocktail

Who says drinking can’t be healthy? The Calvados cocktail contains both apples and oranges. I feel practically saint-like making this drink – almost as if I’m shaking up a salad! With the addition of a whopping ¾ ounce of bitters this bevvy has to have some health benefits, right? Right…?

At the very least this cocktail should succeed in elevating your mood, as spirits are known to do. The base here is Calvados, an apple brandy from the Normandy region of France. Calvados is a spirit I like a lot; it is strong but mellow with a pleasant apple finish. It is commonly found in the Widow’s Kiss cocktail, one of my all-time favorites.

D bought Cara Cara oranges for the juice component and when we cut in to them we were surprised to find pink flesh. However the peels were bursting with orange oil and the aroma was heavenly, so while the color was affected the taste was not.

Calvados Cocktail

Calvados Cocktail

We had several types of orange bitters on hand: Angostura, which is spicy and woody; Fee Brothers, which is bright and intensely orange; and Regans’, which is more bitter and less citrusy. For the first round I chose Angostura and D opted for Fee’s. Both versions of the cocktail were surprisingly bitter, though in a way that most cocktail enthusiasts should find pleasant.

Reading through the ingredients list we both expected this libation to be sweet, yet it is not. The Angostura version was very woody, “like gnawing on a pencil,” said D. The Fee’s variation was more pleasing and gentle. Both drinks presented pine, wood, and caramel, though in different proportions. Ted Haigh hits the nail on the head when he compares the Calvados Cocktail to an orange Negroni. Perhaps the only disappointment was the near absence of apple flavor. Neither of us is sure we would recognize the base spirit as Calvados if presented the drink in a blind tasting.

We were curious about Haigh’s use of Cointreau versus the more common-to-the-era Curacao but suspected it was probably deliberately chosen because of its higher sugar content. But true to our nature, we just had to try a Curacao variation. This time we used a Naval orange and a 50/50 mix of Fee’s and Regans’ bitters with great success. This version is much more mellow, with less wood and a greater marriage of ingredients. Both the orange and the apple are present, much to our delight.

The Calvados Cocktail is definitely a keeper, it is juicy without being sweet and a great introduction to bitter cocktails for the uninitiated. We are glad that we took the time to try several different versions, proving as always that the ingredients determine the quality of the cocktail.

The Calvados Cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces Calvados (we used a VSOP)
  • 1.5 ounces fresh orange juice, strained
  • .75 ounce Cointreau or Curacao
  • .75 ounce orange bitters (blend several if you have them)

Shake over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wheel or twist.

Calvados Cocktail ingredients

Calvados Cocktail ingredients

The Brooklyn Cocktail

The Brooklyn Cocktail

The Brooklyn Cocktail

The Brooklyn Cocktail

This is perhaps a familiar refrain, dear reader, but the Brooklyn cocktail contains an ingredient, Amer Picon, that is not available in our fair nation. Nevertheless, the Brooklyn, subbing Punt e Mes for the French bitter aperitif, is frequently featured on menus in our vicinity. D, who likes his drinks “big, brown, and boozy” is a huge fan of this, (and the myriad other) Manhattan variations.

As such the Brooklyn was one of the first cocktails we barrel aged. And to be perfectly frank, those drinks, while fun experiments, were overly oaked. D loved them, I tolerated them, but as we had made them in fairly large quantities, we felt the need to imbibe them.

Stirring up a fresh Brooklyn for this project reminded me just how wonderful this bevvy is (and confirmed that we probably should not be barrel aging spirits that have already been barrel aged prior to bottling – there’s a huge learning curve folks!)

The Brooklyn Cocktail

Torani Amer

The Brooklyn works just fine with Punt e Mes, though we are lucky enough to have procured a bottle of Torani Amer, an American spirit inspired by the aforementioned French liquor, on a recent trip to Oregon. Torani Amer presents intense orange notes, redolent of Cointreau, with a pleasant bitterness and a less syrupy quality than the Italian vermouth. Additionally, at 39% ABV it is shelf-stable, making it a welcome addition to our liquor collection.

The resultant Brooklyn is a bold cocktail that I would recommend to anyone wanting a change from the familiar Old Fashioned or Manhattan. “It’s a sexy beast,” says D, “with all the best aspects of spirit: strength, sweetness, bitterness, and a hint of fruit.” D believes the Brooklyn would outsell the Manhattan if it were better known. For my part I am grateful that there is room for both cocktails in our repertoire.

We should add here that we did stumble across a bottle of bonafide Amer Picon at a local cocktail bar one evening. Sitting on a shelf, in plain view, sat this glorious illegal alien. D could barely contain his glee as he requested a “true” Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Cocktail

The Brooklyn Cocktail

Unfortunately the spirit, which comes in at a mere 21% ABV, was old and had been left at room temperature for goodness knows how many months. Mixed into a cocktail it fell flat. And thus continues our search for yet another hard to procure spirit!

The Brooklyn Cocktail

  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon
  • ¾ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 teaspoons Amer Picon (sub Torani Amer or Punt e Mes)
  • 2 teaspoons Luxardo Maraschino

Stir over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I like to expel orange oil from a twist and discard. Garnish with a cherry.

The Brooklyn Cocktail

The Brooklyn Cocktail ingredients