Yes, this cocktail has an odd name. No, I do not know the widow for whom the drink is named. No one does. What we do know is the Widow's Kiss first appeared in a 1895 book from George Kappeler, an esteemed New York City bartender. Even though it's not clear if he created the Widow's Kiss (many people presume he did), Kappeler definitely put it on the imbibing public's radar (yes, I know radar was not developed until 40 years later). Many thanks to the Alley Cat Lounge in Savannah for introducing me to this liquid smooch.
1.5 ounces apple brandy
.75 ounces yellow Chartreuse
.75 ounces Benedictine DOM
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the solemn grace of a famous widow such as Jackie Kennedy, and strain into a chilled glass. Luxardo cherry garnish optional.
The Widow's Kiss is high powered. No ingredient has less than 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). If you want to go all French use Calvados, an apple brandy from the region in France. I recommend using yellow Chartreuse (a component of other cocktails such as the Renegade) because it's 40% ABV and slightly sweeter. If you have to use green Chartreuse (55% ABV; you'll use it in drinks like the Last Word), use no more than .5 ounces. The Widow's Kiss should smooch your liver, not kill it. There is no real substitute for the Benedictine DOM (not the same as B&B), which you also can use in classics such as the Vieux Carre or originals such as the Mooch.
Are you curious about the Widow's Kiss? Curiosity may kill the proverbial cat, but the Widow's Kiss won't make someone a widow or widower. I'm living proof.