As much as I love gin, after so many gin cocktails I fancied trying something a bit different this weekend. I recently travelled to France for work, and whilst there picked up a bottle of rather nice XO Calvados, so decided that was probably a good place to start.
Calvados is a French brandy that comes from the eponymous department of the Basse-Normandie region. It is created using a mixture of sweet and bitter apples which are fermented in to a cider and then distilled to produce a clear eau de vie. This is then aged in oak casks for a minimum of two years, though higher-quality Calvados can be aged well in excess of ten years.
Although fundamentally the same (being spirits distilled from apple cider), Calvados and its American cousin Applejack are fairly different to taste, with the former being far smoother and the later having a bit more bite to it. While you can interchange them in cocktail recipes, it won’t always work and will almost certainly change the character of the cocktail you are making.
- 1½ shots Calvados
- ¾ shot Bénédictine
- ¾ shot Yellow Chartreuse
- 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic bitters
- Stir all ingredients well with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
The Widow’s Kiss is a strong but beautifully rich cocktail, perfect for these cold winter months. Chartreuse leads, with apple and sweet herbal hints from the Bénédictine following. The drink has a long herbal finish with a slight hint of apple. As the drink warms the taste develops, making each sip slightly different to the last. Every one is equally delicious though.
I first tried this with Green Chartreuse, but while it was drinkable the Chartreuse dominated a little too much. The less powerful Yellow Chartreuse allows the subtleties of the Calvados to emerge, as well as providing more herbal notes from the Bénédictine. While not a bad drink with Green Chartreuse, with the yellow variety the Widow’s Kiss is simply wonderful.
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