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 Avenue

The Avenue

The Avenue

The Avenue

We usually aim at making one cocktail a week and start our planning and reconnaissance well in advance. The Avenue seemed like a cinch in comparison to the many recipes in our cocktail bible that call for uncommon and scarce liqueurs. I made the pomegranate grenadine from scratch and we easily found Calvados and Maker’s Mark Bourbon at the BCLDB.

Calvados

Calvados

But as predicted by Dr. Cocktail the largest hurdle to making this drink was the unattainability of passion fruit nectar. We searched high and low (and north and south and east and west) but every product we came across was either a “juice blend” with passion fruit listed near the end of the ingredients list, or a passion fruit syrup. Admittedly we could have substituted the syrup for the pomegranate grenadine, an option Ted Haigh provides in the notes to his recipe, but as you may have surmised, D loves a good challenge. After 3 days of searching D proudly arrived home with three whole passion fruit that he obtained at a speciality grocer. I carefully extracted the juice, using a fine sieve and the back of a spoon.

Passion fruit Nectar

Passion fruit Nectar

The three fruit produced a whopping ½ cup of juice at a cost of about 15 dollars, making the nectar, ounce for ounce, by far the most expensive ingredient in the drink. The product of the Avenue is a boozy whiskey cocktail with a heavy dose of tart fruitiness from the passion fruit and pomegranate. There is a good amount of apple on the nose as well as smokiness from the Maker’s Mark. On the palate the cocktail is reminiscent of a fresh plum with hints of date, caramel, pineapple, smoke, and oak. Despite the grenadine,

Pomegranate Grenadine

Pomegranate Grenadine

The Avenue is not a sweet cocktail. D says this is a fruit forward drink. He went so far as to declare it his “five alive!” I say perhaps, for a whiskey drinker. For my part this was the first whiskey cocktail from this book that I would be happy to make again. I liked the juxtaposition of the sweet and tart and the way it intermingled with the malt. One final note of caution to anyone choosing to produce the passion fruit nectar from whole fruit: get the rinds out of the house ASAP. I threw ours in the garbage can and woke to an infestation of fruit flies.

The Avenue

  • 1 ounce bourbon (we used Maker’s Mark)
  • 1 ounce Calvados
  • 1 ounce pure passion fruit juice
  • 1 dash homemade pomegranate grenadine
  • 1 dash orange flower water

Shake over ice. Strain.

The Avenue

The Avenue ingredients