May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Cocktails for the Cold and Drizzle: Calvados and Citrus

Autumn is here. The leaves are turning, the days are getting appreciably shorter, and that crisp, chilly weather has arrived. In the Kronemer household that means it’s time to dig into the back of the liquor cabinet and pull out the Calvados.

Calvados is a distilled apple cider, produced in Normandy, which has been produced there since the 16th century. Calvados is often distilled from a cider that contains a blend of dozens of different apple varieties, and which is often aged for up to a year before distillation. The distillate is then aged in oak barrels for no less than two years, but often for much longer. Typically Calvados is lightly sweet, and has flavors and aromas redolent of apples, with other fruits and spices; and like Cognac and Scotch, Calvados has that ineffable ability to make one feel just a little bit warmer in even the coldest of weather.

Well-aged Calvados can be as smooth and supple as a fine cognac, and is best enjoyed neat in a snifter. However, when bottled young, Calvados can be as fiery as a young whiskey, making it a perfect choice to use in cocktails.

There are many differing opinions regarding the kashrut of Calvados. While some kashrut authorities consider all Calvados to be kosher, others only consider certain brands to be kosher, and others still require formal kosher certification.

Fortunately, in Northern New Jersey there is a readily available brand, Calvados Coquerel, which is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. (FillerUp Kosher Wines in Teaneck sells the two-year-old version for $28 and the four-year-old version for $42.) Another brand to look for is Calvados Boulard, which is officially considered kosher without certification by the Kashruth Authority of the London Beth Din (KLBD), by the Grand Rabbinat du Bas Rhin Beth Din de Strasbourg, and by the Consistoire de Paris.

The Calvados Sidecar

The origins of the Sidecar cocktail are somewhat unclear, but one of the most likely theories is that it was invented around 1920 at the American Bar in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The classic sidecar is a satisfying blend of Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice, and what follows is a recipe for a very tasty alternative that replaces the Cognac with Calvados. According to legend, the drink was named “Sidecar” because it was created for one of the Ritz’s regular patrons who used to arrive at the hotel in a motorcycle sidecar, and would always request a warming cocktail “to help take off the chill.”

¼ cup Calvados

2 tbsp. Cointreau

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add ingredients, shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Calvados Cocktail

The recipe for this eponymous cocktail was first recorded in the pages of Harry Craddock’s 1930 “Savoy Cocktail Book.” Craddock was one of a number of well-known American bartenders who emigrated to more bibulous locals as a result of Prohibition, and he served many years as the head bartender at the American bar in London’s Savoy Hotela—where no doubt this drink would have been popular on chilled and drizzly London evenings. The flavor of the cocktail is complex, with citrus and a large dose of bitters playing of the rich apple flavor in the Calvados.

3 tbsp. Calvados

3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

1½ tbsp. Cointreau

1½ tbsp. orange bitters (see note below)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add ingredients, shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Note on bitters: The large dose of orange bitters is what really gives this drink its bitter edge and complexity. However, the only kosher-certified brand of orange bitters in the U.S. is Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters—a non-alcoholic bitters which lacks the intensity of flavor found in traditional cocktail bitters. If you are going to be using the Stirrings bitters, instead of using them straight, I suggest mixing 1 tablespoon of the Stirrings with ½ tablespoon of Angostura aromatic bitters. Alternatively, I like to make my own bitters, which while not difficult requires both time, and the patience to source some obscure ingredients. (I recommend Garry Regan’s recipe for orange bitters which can be found in his 2003 book “The Joy of Mixology” [$30: Clarkson Potter] and which is posted online at http://postprohibition.com/diy/regans-orange-bitters-no-5/.)

By Gamliel Kronemer

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