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. Continue reading
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…
The Ward Eight is a famous cocktail created in Boston that is considered a classic. But despite its reputation, it never completely convinced me. I see two problems with the Ward Eight. First orange juice is a difficult ingredient in cocktails. Orange does not have the acidity of lemon or lime, and often fails to balance the sweetness of the other ingredients. Then the drink also includes grenadine which is another problematic ingredient. I am not even talking about fake commercial grenadine which does not contain an ounce of pomegranate juice. Even good quality grenadine can easily take over a drink if you are not careful. And when combined with orange juice… Well let’s just say that even though the Ward Eight is a decent cocktail, I feel sad to use a good bottle of rye in this drink because most of its qualities are shadowed by the other ingredients.
I tried a few versions of the Ward Eight including this one from PDT that uses pomegranate molasses for the grenadine and was left feeling underwhelmed.