Brandy Feed

D-Day Triumph Without Death -- The Flower Of Normandy

Flower of Normandy 2June 6, 1944.  On that day Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in France, fought the Nazis, and won a pivotal battle of World War II.  The Flower of Normandy does not celebrate this victory over the evil Nazis (I know, that's redundant).  Instead, it celebrates Calvados, the apple brandy that only comes from Normandy.  Many thanks to Embitterment for introducing me to one of its signature cocktails.

2 ounces Calvados or other apple brandy
.5 ounces elderflower liqueur (I used St. Germain)
2-3 dashes orange bitters (ideally from Embitterment)

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with a calmness that most certainly did not exist on D-Day, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel garnish optional.

Flower of Normandy 1The Flower of Normandy is a truly French cocktail if you use Calvados and St. Germain.  Calvados is to apple brandy like Cognac is to brandy.  If you recall the post about torched Dutch grapes, it's all about geography. Calvados, or apple brandy generally, is a key part of cocktails such as the Corpse Reviver #1 and the Antoine's Smile.

If you want to mix cocktails and history, make yourself a Flower of Normandy and sit down with a book about D-Day (I highly recommend D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose) or watch a movie such as Saving Private Ryan (the opening sequence is viscerally stunning and unforgettable). Or just savor the drink on its own and remember -- some things are worth fighting for.


Across The Globe -- The Intercontinental

See the world through a drink.  Traveling to other countries makes you realize how good you have it (I'm speaking to you, my fellow Americans), and you'll realize there are many things that unite us -- like a high quality cocktail.  The Intercontinental is one of many examples.  Thanks to Imbibe magazine for introducing me to it.

Intercontinental1 ounce brandy
1 ounce Averna
.5 ounces Luxardo maraschino liqueur

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the sexy and sophisticated demeanor of a world traveler, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange garnish optional.

The original Intercontinental recipe calls for Cognac, but use whatever brandy you prefer.  Keep in mind all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac (it is all torched Dutch grapes).  Brandy can come from anywhere, e.g. the pisco in a Pisco Sour comes from South America, but Averna and Luxardo maraschino liqueur only come from Italy.

I've had the good fortune to travel to various parts of the world, and I've embarrassed my wife, aka Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, in many countries.  We believe in trying the local stuff.  We've had good experiences, e.g. Mekhong, a Thai "whiskey" (it is the base of the Mekhong Manhattan), and bad, e.g. Turkish beer.  Either way we're richer for the experience.

Have passport, have liver, will travel.

 


Comparing Apples To Apples

I'm not comparing apples to oranges.  I'm comparing apples (brandy) to apples (jack).  Apple brandy is featured in drinks such as the Corpse Reviver #1 and the Antoine's Smile, while applejack is featured in drinks such as the Ship to Shore and the Applejack Sidecar. As I mentioned in a recent post about the American Apple, the two are similar but not the same.  They both come from fermented apple cider.

Apples to applesSo what's the difference?  Traditionally it's a matter of hot and cold.  Apple brandy uses the regular distilling process.   This involves heating the cider so that the alcohol evaporates, capturing the vapor, and cooling the vapor so it becomes a liquid again.  Applejack involves freezing the cider and siphoning off the liquid alcohol after the water freezes.  Both processes separate the alcohol from the water by exploiting their different boiling or freezing points.

Why use the word "traditionally?" Because there's a problem with the old fashioned way of making applejack.  When one freezes cider most of the impurities stay with the alcohol.  In comparison, when one heats cider most of the impurities stay with the liquid, not the alcoholic vapor.

Fortunately modern applejack doesn't have this problem. Laird's (the only applejack producer of which I am aware) blends apple brandy with other neutral spirits.

Now you know you can compare apples to apples.


How About Them Apples -- The American Apple

Apples, cinnamon, and whiskey.  Any one of those flavors can evoke the autumn season.  Combine them into a drink, and you'll definitely fall (pun intended) for the result. You don't hear the phrase "how about them apples" much anymore (to my non-American readers -- it's an expression that means "what do you think about that?"), but as Matt Damon showed us in this scene from Good Will Hunting, sometimes it really hits the right note.

The American Apple is my variation on a Canadian whiskey based cocktail recipe that I saw on the barnonedrinks.com website.

American Apple2 ounces bourbon or rye (I like Bulleit and Willett)
.5 ounces apple brandy (Laird's is American)
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.5 ounces super simple syrup
2 dashes cinnamon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with Will's swagger, and strain into a chilled glass. Apple slice garnish optional.

Apple brandy also plays a prominent role in cocktails such as Antoine's Smile and the Corpse Reviver #1.  It is similar to applejack, but they're not the same. I mention this because Laird's, which I used in the American Apple, makes both kinds of spirits.  The American Apple will taste a little different depending on whether you use bourbon or rye.  Bourbon is a liquid example of American exceptionalism, and rye is a liquid example of an American comeback kid.

So how about them American apples?


New Orleans Happiness -- The Antoine's Smile

Antoine's is a great old school restaurant in New Orleans.  Many years ago Lawson Rollins, my best friend in college who is now an award winning world class musician (click here for his website), introduced me to Antoine's when he lived in New Orleans.  I go there whenever I'm in town, and I've had many wonderful experiences in the restaurant and the Hermes bar.  I don't know the proportions Antoine's uses for this cocktail, so here's my version.

Antoine's Smile2 ounces Calvados or apple brandy
Juice from 1/8 lemon
1 ounce super simple syrup
.5 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the joy of savoring some amazing food and drink, and strain into a chilled glass.

Calvados is an apple brandy from the Calvados region in France.  It's a key component in other tasty cocktails such as the Corpse Reviver #1.  If you can't find Calvados in a liquor store you can find it online.

The Antoine's Smile is a great brunch cocktail.  It is a little sweeter than many drinks in the Wulf Cocktail Den, even compared to other brunch drinks such as the Good Morning Manhattan.  Of course, the Calvados gives the Antoine's Smile some punch, and the lemon juice keeps it from being too sweet. 

Put a smile on your face and have an Antoine's Smile.


South American Santa -- The Peruvian Christmas

'Tis the season for cocktails!  Ok, as far as I'm concerned it's always the season for cocktails. This Christmas dare to be different and have a Peruvian Christmas.  Marvin Allen, who performs his bartending magic at the legendary Carousel Bar in New Orleans, created this cocktail.  I discovered the recipe in his book Magic In A Shaker (he also created other libations such as the Kentucky Sunshine).

Peruvian Christmas1.5 ounces pisco
.5 ounces amaretto
.25 ounces Luxardo maraschino liqueur
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.5 ounces super simple syrup
3-4 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Combine a shaker with ice, shake like you're Rudolph the Reindeer going on a bender (why do you think his nose is red?), and strain into a chilled glass.

The Peruvian Christmas has more ingredients than most drinks in the Den. Fortunately it's easy to obtain them, and more importantly, the finished product is worth the effort.  Pisco, a brandy that comes from Peru and Chile, is the base spirit of this cocktail, as well as others such as the El Capitan and Pisco Sour.

Regardless of whether or not you celebrate the holiday (I do not), the Peruvian Christmas pairs nicely with your favorite Christmas movies.  My personal favorites are Die Hard ("Now I have a machine gun ho ho ho") and Bad Santa ("F__k me Santa!").  Go have yourself a very merry Peruvian Christmas!


O Captain! My Captain! -- The El Capitan

If you've seen the film Dead Poets Society (and if you haven't, you really should) you will remember this magnificent scene. The film's cast included the late great Robin Williams, as well as a young Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles, both of whom are essentially my age.

The El Capitan cocktail has nothing to do with either the movie or the poem Walt Whitman composed after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 (he is the captain to whom the poem refers).  Although the origins of the cocktail are murky, it may predate President Lincoln's death.  The cocktail, which originated in Peru and referred to military captains, may be the result of the combination of Italian immigration (and sweet vermouth) and pisco in the 1850s. 

2 ounces pisco
1 ounce sweet vermouth (hola Carpano Antica)
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the determination of Todd Anderson showing courage and loyalty (watch the movie), and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Fundamentally the El Capitan is a Manhattan with pisco instead of bourbon.  Pisco is the base of other cocktails such as the Pisco Sour.  If you want to make an interesting twist on the El Capitan, forget the bitters and use a dash of Fernet Branca, or use Denman Old Quarter bitters from Bittered Sling instead of Angostura bitters.  Any way you make it, the El Capitan is a worthy salute to your captain, whoever he or she may be.


Rise From The Dead -- The Corpse Reviver #1

Does this have something to do with a zombie apocalypse movie?  Nope.   Corpse Revivers, which originated around the turn of the 20th century, were an old school "hair of the dog" -- you used one to rejuvenate yourself after a night of heavy drinking.  Thank the late Harry Craddock, head bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London, for saving some of the recipes, and thank Marvin Allen, head bartender at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, for introducing me to this cocktail.

Corpse Reviver #11 ounce Calvados or other apple brandy
1 ounce brandy or Cognac
1 ounce sweet vermouth (ciao Carpano Antica)

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the slow deliberation of trying to do anything with a hangover (don't act innocent -- you know what I'm talking about), and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel garnish optional.

Calvados is an apple brandy.  Calvados is to apple brandy like Cognac is to grape brandy -- it's all about geography (in these cases, regions in France ... for more read Torched Dutch Grapes). You'll probably have an apple brandy or two at your local liquor store. If not you have the Internet.

Almost all versions of the Corpse Reviver #1 have at least 50% grape brandy.  I prefer this version because it has more of an apple taste and the proportions are really easy to remember.

If you see a Corpse Reviver on a cocktail menu, take a good look before ordering.  Most likely it will be the gin based #2, not the brandy based #1.  I don't care for many types of gin, and like most people, I'd rather be #1 at something than #2.  Even if that something is reviving my corpse.


Pride Of Peru (With Protein!) -- The Pisco Sour

It's refreshing, delicious, and contains 3.6 grams of protein (the amount in an egg white according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
It's refreshing, delicious, and contains 3.6 grams of protein (the amount in an egg white according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture).

Pisco is a grape brandy from either Peru or Chile.  If you saw the post about torched Dutch grapes (click here to read it), you learned that brandy can come from anywhere.  Both Peru and Chile insist that pisco and the Pisco Sour belong to their respective countries.  In 2013 the United States recognized pisco as a unique product of either country (in exchange they recognized bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as unique American products).

The Pisco Sour is the most famous of pisco cocktails.  Interestingly, just as an American in Cuba created the Daiquiri, an American in Peru created the Pisco Sour.   

2 ounces pisco
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 ounce super simple syrup
1 egg white
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine everything but the bitters in a shaker, shake as if you're bolting up the mountain towards Machu Picchu (this is dry shaking because there's no ice), add ice, shake again (now you're wet shaking), strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and add the bitters into the foam.

Pisco is popular enough that you can get it in liquor stores. If you order a Pisco Sour in a bar you may have to ask the bartender to add the bitters.  Not only are the bitters visually appealing, but they give the drink a nice little twist.  

I'm not going to weigh in on whether Peru or Chile has the right to claim exclusive ownership of pisco.  So which version of the Pisco Sour do I prefer?  My research indicates that the Peruvian version has egg white and bitters, but the Chilean version does not.  I love protein, so I'm going with Peru on this one.  Hope that doesn't make me persona non grata in Chile.


Torched Dutch Grapes -- The Etymology Of Brandy

We've all heard of brandy.  It's the base spirit of great cocktails such as the Sidecar, and it's a key component in other cocktails such as the Vieux Carre. But what is it?  And why do we call it brandy?

Brandy -- torched Dutch grapes
If my wife's Dutch decorative wood shoe fits, don't burn it.

Brandy is basically distilled wine that usually is aged in oak barrels.  The aging process is similar to bourbon (click here for a synopsis of how to determine a French brandy's age).

In the 17th century the Dutch word for burning or distilling was "branden" and the word for wine was "wijn."  So what was the Dutch word for "burned wine?"  "Brandewijn." And how would you say that in English? Brandywine. 

You've heard of Cognac.  Cognac is to brandy as Champagne is to sparking wine -- it denotes a specific geographic area (France in both cases).  As I mentioned in a prior post, all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac.  There are many other good brandies out there.  For example, I recommend Metaxa, which hails from Greece, or pisco, which hails from Peru or Chile.  Regardless of its provenance, brandy can be the beginning of some great experiences.  So get some burned grapes and make wonderful memories.