applejack

Poison Apple

Poison AppleSo, I had planned to kick off the new year with a recent recipe for a coffee based drink inspired by a favorite drink of my favorite fictional assassin that I made for the first time recently to high praise from someone what is arguable a bigger fan of both coffee and Vlad Taltos than I, which is saying something.  While that post will be coming, you’ll have to wait until next month, as inspiration for another drink hit me today.

As I was driving in to work this morning, I was struck by an idea for this cocktail.  As to what it says about how things are currently going at the office that I was thinking of cocktails before my work day had started, well, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.  The point is, I was thinking of absinthe in particular, and how maybe a nice Corpse Reviver #2 would be a good way to celebrate the end of the day once it shambled around.  Now, I love the Corpse Reviver #2, but of course my mind started working through permutations of it, and what it was about that drink that I was craving.

When it came down to it, I was looking for that hint of absinthe, and the crispness of the citrus.  What I didn’t really want was the tartness, but something lighter.  I started thinking of flavors that I like to put with anise, and thought of doing a gin drink heavily laced with rose water, but that didn’t intrigue me.  I moved on to apples, and that’s where I dwelt for most of the rest of the drive.  The crispness and natural sweetness of apples works so very well with absinthe, and while I went through many ideas, I ended up settling on this really quite simple recipe:

  • 2 parts applejack or calvados
  • 1/2 part simple syrup
  • 1 barspoon of absinthe
  • 1/4-1/3 of an apple
  • lemon juice

Upon arriving home, I told my darling wife about this cocktail idea, and shared that I even had a name for it already, which is surprising as I usually struggle with naming my creations.  After telling her about the idea, she shared that thanks to a trip to the grocery store earlier today, we had some nice fresh apples in the fridge, which I took as a sign, and set off to cobbling this first experimental glass.  I must say, I am well pleased with the results, if I do say so, as was the wife.

I started by thinly slicing up some apple, in this case a Kiku apple, which is a variety we hadn’t tried before.  Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better apple for this cocktail; it’s quite juicy, very sweet, but with a nice light tartness.  After cutting the apple into suitably thin pieces, I muddled that in a Boston shaker with a bit of fresh lemon juice, about what you’d get from 1/8th of a medium lemon.  I kept muddling until I had worked as much juice out of the apple pieces without completely pulverizing them.  To this I added some crushed ice, the applejack, absinthe, and after sampling a bit more of the apple and deciding it was going to make for a decently sweet drink, the small amount of simple syrup.  I shook the drink briefly to chill it and let some of that crushed ice melt down, and then strained it into a coupe glass for service.

What I had in that glass was a lovely little drink; very light, with an almost floral sweetness from the apple, and the nice clean finish of absinthe passing fleetingly through the end.

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Corpse Reviver (#1)

corpse reviver #1

A few days ago, I shared a post about the delicious restorative, the Corpse Reviver #2 as I started my vacation.  That same night, after finishing off that cocktail and going to make another, I discovered I had used up my last lemon.  Now, what was I to do?  You can’t very well make a Corpse Reviver #2 without fresh lemon juice, as I covered in the last post.  And then I found my answer, right there in front of me, minus the #2.

The Corpse Reviver, or Corpse Reviver #1 to some, is another entry in the family of curative cocktails like its more popular secondary namesake.  While the #2 is a light, citrus-centric, and cleanly bracing drink, this is a completely different animal.  Brandy based, with a bit extra brandy, and the clean nearly astringent notes of Lilet Blanc and absinthe replaced with the warm and rich notes of sweet vermouth, the Corpse Reviver strikes me as more of an after dinner drink, or a tonic to be fed to someone pulled from icy water, than a morning pick me up.  Warm where the #2 is cool, rich and deep where the #2 is light and refreshing, the Corpse Reviver is still a subtle drink in its own way, and the three ingredients play together just as nicely.

Combine the following in a mixing glass with a modest portion of ice:

Unlike the #2 where we shake the ingredients to combine, thus chilling the drink more, stir the combined ingredients for a moment, just enough to drop the temperature and mix them fully.  Strain into a cocktail glass that you’ve chilled previously in the freezer or by filling with ice before prepping your drink, dumping the ice prior to pouring the drink.

In this instance, I used my go to cognac, Decourtet VS, which is a marvelous cognac and at a price that won’t make you cringe.  I used Laird’s applejack as it’s what I had on hand, though using calvados will impart slightly stronger apple notes with a twinge less of sweetness, in my opinion.  For the vermouth, any sweet Italian vermouth will suffice, though I used my personal favorite, Carpano Antica Formula, using the original recipe created by its namesake, the late 18th century distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the father of the now familiar vermouth.  Carpano Antica is an amazingly rich drink, and well worth picking up for using in cocktails or drinking on its own as an apéritif (the good people at Post Prohibition wrote a wonderful piece about this complex, bittersweet vermouth), and it’s the perfect choice for this recipe, if I may so.

While sharing a name with the Corpse Reviver #2, this is a completely different drink, but just as pleasing in its own way, and well worth a try if you’re a fan of brandy, Manhattans, or simply looking for something warming and comforting.

Appleseed

Appleseed

It’s the 4th of July, and here’s a cocktail to enjoy on the holiday.  They say there’s nothing more American than apple pie, but what about a cocktail made with one of the spirits enjoyed by the founding fathers, applejack?  This spirit was used to pay road workers during the colonial period in New Jersey, and was a particular favorite of George Washington’s, but is oft neglected these days.  Applejack is nearly identical in taste of apple brandy, or Calvados, an apple brandy made in specific region of France.  Applejack is traditionally different from other brandies made from apple cider, because it is concentrated through freeze distillation rather than evaporation distillation common to most other spirits.  At its most basic, apple cider would be left out in the winter and the water would separate and freeze at the top of the pan or barrel, a process called “jacking” which gives this spirit its name.  This would be scooped out, and the remaining liquid left to go through a number of additional freezes, each one increasing the alcohol content in the remaining cider until you ended up with a distilled spirit.  Not all modern applejacks are distilled through the freezing method, but the results are the same: a sweet, smooth, brandy-like drink.

This noble spirit serves as the base for the Appleseed, whose recipe is as follows:

  • 2 parts applejack
  • 1 part amaretto
  • 1/4 part Stirrings brand ginger liqueur (quite a different ginger liqueur than the subtle Domaine de Canton featured in some other drinks here. Nothing subtle here, just a lot of biting, spicy ginger flavor)
  • 1/2 part unfiltered apple juice or cider

All ingredients are combined in a mixing glass and stirred without ice, and then poured over ice into an old-fashioned glass and lightly stirred again to chill.

The Appleseed is all about the applejack, the fruit from which it comes.  The amaretto and ginger spice it up, and add a bit of further complexity to the drink, not to mention a bit of extra sweetness.  Fair warning, for those of you that don’t like sweet drinks, this one may not be for you.  If you’d like to have a go at this one, but cut the sweetness a bit, I’d suggest dropping the amaretto portion down to 1/2 part, and potentially upping the applejack to 2.5 or even 3 parts.  Those adjustments will result in a less sweet drink, though you’ll lose some of the background flavors in return for a more pronounced taste of applejack.