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

Summer Sippers

Summer Sippers

Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset

Summer is in full swing, at least in my hemisphere, and this means it’s the perfect time to sit back and relax with a refreshing frosty beverage. For most of the year I prefer a short drink, to the point that when a bartender asks me what I like I always specify no rocks and no soda before I even consider the spirits that suit my mood. But for a couple months each summer these rules fly out the window. The dog days of summer beg for a long, cool, revitalizing bevvy. My normally spirit-forward palette suddenly craves seasonal fruit and citrus. Here are a few thirst-quenching cocktails guaranteed to beat the heat!

Sour Cherry Gin Sling

(Adapted from http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sour-cherry-gin-slings)

Fresh sour cherries are only available for a couple of weeks a year so get them while the getting is good! Be sure to buy an extra pound or two to make your own maraschino cherries!!)

For the sour cherry syrup:

Cherry Syrup

Cherry Syrup

  • 1 pound sour cherries, stems removed
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Zest of ½ orange

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat (there is no need to pit the cherries). Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, discarding the solids. Allow the syrup to cool before use. The syrup will keep about 1 week in the refrigerator.

For the Slings:

Cherry Sling ingredients

Cherry Sling ingredients

  • 2 ounces Gin (we used Broker’s)
  • .66 ounce Cointreau
  • .66 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2.5 ounces sour cherry syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Soda water

Pour the gin, Cointreau, lime, and cherry syrup into a large Collins glass (12-14 ounces). Fill with ice, leaving only a couple of ounces of headroom. Top with soda (not too much or you will dilute the wonderful flavors!) and a couple of dashes of bitters. Garnish with a lime wheel and a maraschino cherry. Bask in the sunshine!

 

 

Violet Fizz

(From A.J. Rathbun’s Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

Our liquor cabinet is full of obscure ingredients purchased with a specific cocktail or two in mind. Recently I’ve made it my mission to find additional uses for these liqueurs. The Violet Fizz marries one of my favorite floral spirits with citrus to produce summer in a glass.

Violet Fizz:

Violet Fizz

Violet Fizz

  • 2 ounces gin (we used Broker’s)
  • .5 ounce Crème de Violette
  • .25 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • .25 ounce simple syrup
  • Club soda

Build the drink in a highball glass (8-9 ounces) by adding the gin, violette, lemon juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice until ¾ full. Top with club soda. (Tip: always use a fresh can or single-serving bottle of soda when creating fizzy cocktails. Family-sized bottles and open cans loose their carbonation quickly.) Garnish with a lemon wheel, maraschino cherry, or a violet if you have one!

Strega Fizz

(Source: http://www.cocktaildb.com/recipe_detail?id=2228)

Strega is an Italian herbal liqueur, reminiscent of a simplified yellow Chartreuse, but with more citrus notes. It is relatively inexpensive and drinks well on its own or mixed into cocktails. This simple recipe, which seems to capture the essence and color of sunshine, is delightfully light and quenching.

Strega Fizz:

  • 1 ounce gin (again we used Broker’s)
  • 1 ounce Strega
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • Club soda
Strega Fizz

Strega Fizz

Add the gin, Strega, and lemon juice to a highball glass (8-9 ounces). Fill with ice until ¾ full. Top with soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel.