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Calvados Cocktail – Bitter but Awesome

Posted by Reese on 2010-04-11 @ 09:19pm

As I mentioned in my intro a couple weeks back (geez, has it really been that long?) any drink with 3/4 oz of bitters sounds intimidating.  I mean, come on.  You’re supposed to use these in dashes.  They’re cocktail spices after all.  As such, I expected this recipe to be like adding a tablespoon of pepper to one plate of eggs.  It’s really not that way at all, though.  Think of it more like an Indian curry.  You add a ton of spices, but the end result is still delicious and harmonious.

Calvados Cocktail

That said, like curry, the level at which the spice becomes overwhelming varies for each person.  For me 3/4 oz of bitters was too much spice.  I ended up dropping them to 1/2 oz and found the harmony I was looking for.  But, what about the other senses?

The aroma is striking.  The calvados gives the drink a great apple essence that is truly crisp and fresh.  It’s really impressive to me how well they’ve distilled down the purity of the apple and bottled it.  Delicious.  The flavor, while retaining the apple flavors, is more about the orange.  The bitters, the juice and triple sec all work together to create a great orange base flavor.  The brandy elements of the calvados round it all out.  This really is a fantastic cocktail that I will definitely be mixing up in the future.

Calvados Cocktail (Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)
1 1/2 oz Calvados
1 1/2 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Orange Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

But, I did have two weeks to work on this one.  And, while I’ve been crazy busy, I must have come up with more, right?  Oh, yes.  Well, a bit more at least.  So, let’s talk a bit about that base spirit again.  Due to the common apple origin, I figured applejack  was worth a go.  And it was.  Less of the apple flavor comes through, though.  While this version is good, the calvados is what makes it great.

Next, I tried a recipe variant that I found in the Joy of Mixology.  Interestingly, Gary switched it up a great deal.

Calvados Cocktail (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Calvados
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Orange Bitters to Taste

Added lemon juice and orange bitters to taste with no notes as to what that should entail.  Then tweaking the levels of the triple sec, the orange juice and the calvados.  Interesting indeed.  Even with all the changes the resulting drink is also very good.  Not surprisingly, the flavor profile is much different.  I opted for 1/2 oz of bitters to keep the comparison as even as I could.  Were Gary to mix this drink up for me I think he’d go for less bitters.  The reason I say this is because with the additional sour from the lemon juice the bitterness is much less important to the flavor.  This version is certainly another awesome cocktail.  Should it really be called a Calvados Cocktail as well?  Hard to say.

So there you have it.  It was a busy two weeks for me but, thankfully, there were tasty cocktails to keep me going full steam.  If you’ve got a bottle of calvados gathering dust on your shelf you owe it to yourself to mix this drink up.  Either version.  They’re both tasty.