- 2 ounces Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy (substitute Laird’s Applejack or your favorite Calvados).
- 1/2 ounce pear brandy (make sure it’s a clear eau-de-vie, not a liqueur).
- 1/2 ounce pimento dram.
- 1/4 ounce top-shelf sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula or Punt-E-Mes).
- 1 dash aromatic cocktail bitters (Angostura is good, Fee Brothers’ Old Fashion Bitters are better, Abbott’s Bitters — if you can get any — are spectacular).
Combine ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir like hell for no less than 30 seconds, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Intrigued by the mix of flavors, I made one for myself tonight. Since I had no Laird’s bonded on hand, I used Chateau du Breuil Calvados, and mixed it with Clear Creek Distillery’s pear eau-de-vie, homemade pimento dram, Punt Y Mes and a dash of Fee’s Old-Fashioned Aromatic Bitters.
I was expecting a number of different flavors, all creating a layered profile, but with the first sip I was astounded at how well they all worked together. Each of the ingredients has a very assertive character, but in this combination, no one flavor dominates. The rich apple of the brandy and the ethereal presence of the pear eau-de-vie form a solid fruity presence in the glass, seasoned with allspice from the liqueur and the cinnamon from the Fee’s, with the Punt Y Mes undetectible, yet working behind the scenes, as it were, to temper the various flavors around it.
Apples, pears, allspice, cinnamon–the essence of the holiday in a cocktail glass. Chuck says he’s still tinkering with the cocktail, but from my brief encounter with it, I’d say no further work is needed. Maybe somewhere between the eggnog and the flaming Christmas punch (ever the traditionalist), I’ll pull this one out to liven up the afternoon.
* UPDATE: This drink was well-received by my guests on Christmas Day, and Chuck has not only decided to settle on this recipe, but Wes has come up with a fitting name: the RÃ©veillon Cocktail, which, according to Chuck, “evokes Christmas, especially Christmas eve, but also the recent New Orleans spin on the old tradition that expands the feasting of la veille de NoÃ«l all season long …”
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