The Norman Conquest: from England to San Diego

Last year I visited the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London and tried one of Erik Lorincz‘s creations, the Norman Conquest. It was similar to a Manhattan with a mix of bourbon and calvados as the base spirit. I love calvados so the drink captured my interest.

At the American Bar they used Woodford Reserve bourbon and Martini Rosso vermouth; at home I recreated the cocktail with Buffalo Trace and Dolin rouge for a more assertive mix. My calvados is Daron.

Then I remembered that I had tried a similar Manhattan variation with apple brandy in the past, Sam Ross’ Grandfather. He calls for applejack but I used calvados. I made them side-by-side for comparison purposes. The differences are minor – the simple syrup and orange twist in Erik Lorincz’s version, the Peychaud’s bitters in Sam Ross’ version, calvados vs. applejack, rocks vs. up. 10661170865_4c1359e330_z.jpg Continue reading

Fish House Punch

Since living in the U.S., there are a few holiday traditions that I have adopted. While I refuse to be involved with turkey in any shape or form, I can certainly appreciate a nice holiday punch. I’ve noticed that it tends to make family reunions a little more pleasant for everyone. And some, like the Fish House Punch, are so tasty that they get requested year after year.

There is a little place from out of town
Where, if you go to lunch,
They’ll make you forget your mother-in-law
With a drink called Fish-House Punch.

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Apple of my eye

The first cocktail I made when I received the Death & Co cocktail book used muddled apple, an ingredient that evokes fall. Taking the inspiration further, fall also puts me in the mood for calvados, the French apple brandy from Normandy. In France it is not uncommon to have a “trou normand“, a small glass of calvados that is enjoyed in the middle of a long leisurely meal, supposedly to help with digestion…

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Vinegar Girl

The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday was Sours, which may be the largest cocktail category. MxMo challenges are a good opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, so I decided not to use citrus as my source of acidity. Instead, I experimented by making my first shrub.

A shrub is a drinking vinegar made by mixing fruit with vinegar and sugar. I find this especially appealing because I am a vinegar fiend – after eating a salad, I like to drink every last bit of vinaigrette from my plate (no, I don’t do this in fine dining establishments, only in the comfort of my own home). I like vinegar so much I even own a vinegar (and beer) shampoo (which I don’t drink, although it is very tempting).

I’ve been making a lot of calvados + scotch drinks these past few months and wanted to use this as my base. Calvados is distilled from apples sometimes mixed with pears, so I went with a pear shrub. To make the shrub, I mixed equal parts mashed Bosc pear, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. I let the mixture steep in the fridge for a week before filtering out the pear. I used egg white in the cocktail to temper the shrub somewhat.

My first version of the cocktail was too vinegar-forward and the acidity masked the scotch almost completely. I corrected the course by adding simple syrup, and a couple of dashes of Peychaud’s to round up the flavors. The resulting version was much more harmonious and had a brightness evocative of pear eau de vie in the finish.

Vinegar Girl for MxMo Sours

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Boozy ice cream

It’s great to make ice cream at home, but unless you have professional equipment or a tank of liquid nitrogen on hand, the consistency is usually on the hard side. One easy way to remedy this is to add booze to your ice cream. Some recipes recommend adding a small amount of neutral-tasting vodka. For fruit-based recipes, macerating fruit in kirsch is an excellent solution as it enhances the taste of the fruit, similar to what you would do for a fruit salad. By why not make the booze front and center?

Years ago I started using the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. Their ice cream base #1 is as simple as it gets, requiring no cooking whatsoever, and just four ingredients: eggs, sugar, heavy cream, and milk. The book contains a variation with kahlua and amaretto, but that never particularly appealed to me. However I had this idea to make a Calvados ice cream – why not, good Calvados is delicious, like apples in liquor form. The only difficult part is to accept the idea to part with 1/2 cup (4 oz, 110 mL) of Calvados which equates to a non negligible 16% of an entire bottle… But it’s worth it and the ice cream keeps for a while (in theory – it will be gone before you know it). You can use it on a pound cake as pictured below, or even better on an apple tart. The cream smoothes the Calvados and the fat in the ice cream allows to better enjoy the aromatics (at least that is what I tell myself after a couple of generous scoops).

Homemade calvados ice cream, orange pound cake
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