This week’s drink has been an interesting change from my usual cocktail hacking experience. Generally I make up my list of recipes, usually at least five and experiment with the various ratios until I find something that I like. Since Gary Regan created this cocktail there really aren’t any other recipes for it out there. That said, there was still enough for me to play with to keep me entertained.
First, let’s briefly talk about creme de noyau(x). The only kind I could find in this area, and I hit the three best local liquor stores looking, is Hiram Walker’s Creme de Noyaux (CdN). Having sampled it I’m fairly pleased, but then again I have nothing to compare it to. From my poking around I’ve found that CdN was originally flavored and colored from the steeping of stone fruit pits (cherry, apricot, plum, etc). In modern versions the color is added and the flavor comes primarily from almonds and apricot kernels, very similar to amaretto.
Due to this similarity I was expecting that would carry though to the flavor and to some degree it does. CdN has a lighter nut flavor than amaretto and lacks some of the complexity. I didn’t really find that to be an issue in this drink though. Since the CdN is included in this recipe primarily in a sweetening role the brandy or cognac you choose becomes the real star.
I played with the ratios a bit. At first I felt the drink wasn’t sweet enough for my tastes so I bumped the CdN up to 3/4 oz leaving all the remaining measures (2 oz brandy, 1/2 oz lemon juice) the same. The result was a drink that I ended up feeling was actually too sweet which pushed me right back to Gary’s original formulation. The level of sourness was perfect for me and I decided not to mess with that. Finally, before I let you go, I’d recommend using a good brandy, but not something incredible. Save the incredible brandy or cognac for sipping. While some of the subtle flavors of the spirit will come through some of the others will be masked. So, use something you like, but not your expensive stuff and you’ll be very happy.
This is a tasty drink. If you’re looking for something new to try it’s well worth your time. I’m very interested to hear if there are creme de noyauxs out there that are truly amazing. If you know of one please let me know. Or, for that matter, if you have a recipe to make your own I’d love to know that too.