RotLC – Apricot Brandy

February 14th, 2008

The third round of Raiders of the Lost Cocktail, the semi-regular event that aims to find lost cocktails made with forgotten ingredients, draws to a close tomorrow. Paul picked apricot brandy as the chosen ingredient, which gave me a great excuse to go out and buy a spirit I had previously neglected. Armed with a bottle of Giffard Abricot du Roussillon I’ve been playing with various cocktails over the past few weeks, the best of which I have highlighted below.

The thing that has really stood out after trying all these cocktails is how impressed I was with apricot brandy. Fruit liqueurs, especially those from the ubiquitous brands which produce a luminous spirit in just about every fruit flavour around, can have a tendency to taste like sugary, artificial messes. I was therefore pleasantly surprised by just how fresh and natural the Giffard apricot brandy tasted. Previously I had dismissed it as an ingredient not worth exploring, but these cocktails paint a very different picture indeed.

Claridge Cocktail

Claridge Cocktail

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The Claridge comes to us from the Savoy Cocktail Book, and my first sip immediately brought to mind a sweetened, fruity Martini. I think, though, that’s an oversimplification that doesn’t do the drink justice. Behind the dry base of the gin and vermouth the two liqueurs provide a fruity edge that works really well without over sweetening the drink. The orange and apricot remain fairly subtle, but make for a nicely balanced cocktail. It’s not a ground breaking concoction, but it is very tasty.

Yellow Parrot

Yellow Parrot

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I originally came across the Yellow Parrot in the Savoy Cocktail Book, where it calls for equal parts of all three ingredients. However that mixture sounded far too heavy on absinthe, and further investigation found the above toned-down recipe in Difford’s Guide. Even reduced to just a ¼ oz the absinthe makes a strong impression on the drink, but the Chartreuse stands its ground providing a sweet herbal start to the drink. The apricot brandy remains in the background, probably not helped by the fact the Giffard brandy is fairly light in flavour. Nonetheless, it offers a constant hint of apricot throughout the drink and the overall result, whilst pretty sweet, is quite interesting.

Nacional Daiquiri

Hop Toad

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The Hop Toad originates from Tom Bullock’s Ideal Bartender, a 1917 book, in the form of the Leaping Frog which calls simply for apricot brandy and the juice of half a lime. The apricot brandy Tom was referring to was apricot eau de vie, but Difford’s Guide offers the modern revision above, which has added light rum to the mix making sweet apricot brandy more appropriate. Simon notes that despite being heavy on lime it remains balanced, and I have to agree. The relatively small amount of rum also allows more of the apricot flavourings from the brandy to shine through, and makes for a pleasant mix that even went down well with some of my non-cocktailian friends.

Nacional Daiquiri

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For those that prefer their rum and lime drinks a little more spirit heavy, the Nacional Daiquiri offers the same ingredients as the Hop Toad in rather different proportions. This recipe again comes from Difford’s guide, which tells us the cocktail is named after the Hotel Nacional in Cuba where the drink was created.

The increased dose of rum really allowed the vanilla notes of the Havana Club 3 Year Old I was using to come out, which nicely complemented the apricot brandy. The tart lime edge is reduced significantly from the Hop Toad, but still manages to temper any sweetness in the drink. Personally I preferred the Nacional, but if you want a cocktail to introduce people to Daiquiri style drinks, the Hop Toad isn’t a bad choice at all.

Tulip Cocktail

Tulip Cocktail

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Saving the best to last, the Tulip Cocktail is another taken from the pages of The Savoy Cocktail Book. It is a rich and fruity cocktail, with plenty of apple upfront and a long apricot finish. The vermouth provides a floral bitterness that along with the lemon juice provides a counterbalance to the sweetness of the Calvados and apricot brandy. The Tulip has a complexity that I really love in a cocktail, and despite the small amount of apricot brandy used it has a surprisingly strong effect on the drink. Definitely a drink worth exploring – highly recommended…

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Posted in Absinthe, Apricot Brandy, Calvados, Chartreuse, Curaçao & Triple Sec, Gin, Lemon, Lime, Recipes, Rum, Vermouth

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4 responses to “RotLC – Apricot Brandy”

  1. 4 great cocktails « Dreaming Again says:

    [...] Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain in to a cocktail glass. Garish with a lemon zest twist. Recipe courtesy of: [...]

  2. Adventures in Cocktails » Blog Archive » Four Great Cocktails says:

    [...] Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain in to a cocktail glass. Garish with a lemon zest twist. Recipe courtesy of: [...]

  3. Maria J. Maria J. says:

    There are so many old cocktails requiring apricot brandy, and like you, I’d wistfully bypassed them for the same reason– just couldn’t bring myself to buy that grim-looking fluorescent muck on the bottom shelves of the store! I’ve since found, and had great success with, Creme de Pêche, though (can’t recall the brand– French, though); but I ADORE Marie Brizzard’s Apry. Hard to find, but worth agitating for at your local supplier

  4. Maria J. Maria J. says:

    And btw- a cocktail I especially love with Apry is the Cuban– a version I found in the UKBG ca. 1950 or so. It’s basically the Hop Toad with lime juice, although I can’t recall now if the proportions I use are those of the book, or my update, i.e. heavier on the gin.

    2 oz gin
    1 oz apricot brandy (use Marie Brizzard’s Apry, or don’t bother!)
    1 oz fresh lime juice

    There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about a gin cocktail calling itself Cuban.

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