A structured flavor for a crazy season …
This is an interesting one. Smooth, potent, and quite elegant. But a little ... austere. Not sweet. Not soothing. It demands attention, makes you want to sit up straight. Absolutely perfect for the season when we overeat – sweets and comfort foods, especially – and generally overindulge in everything. It's a counterbalance to all that bad behavior – in the form of a cocktail, of all things! Like I said – perfect.
The history of this drink, like that of so many, is murky. There are probably-phony tales of the first one being mixed up at a party by a pair of British swells who raced Bentleys (the cars) in the 1920s and were celebrating a big win at Le Mans. Well, maybe. But we do know it existed in the 20s because the recipe is included in Harry Craddock's famous Savoy Cocktail Book, first published in 1930.
But none of that really matters. Here we are in almost-2018, and this is a really good cocktail. Perfect for what's happening in most of our lives right this minute.
So, shake up a few, sit up straight, and have a sip. You'll be glad you did.
- 1.5 oz. Calvados
- 1.5 oz. Dubonnet
- Dash of Peychaud's bitters
Combine ingredients and shake until icy cold. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish, if you wish, with a lemon or orange peel.
A word about Ingredients
Calvados is apple brandy. Made in France by distilling fermented apple cider, its history goes all the way back to the rule of Charlemagne in the 800s. It comes in many brands and a variety of prices, from reasonable to ridiculous. As usual, my advice when buying ingredients to mix in a cocktail is to go for decent quality at a moderate price and leave the high-end stuff for sipping neat. If you're not sure, ask your friendly calvados merchant for a suggestion.
Dubonnet is a sweet, wine-based aperitif from France (though the stuff we buy is produced under license in the US) and dates back to the mid-19th century. It’s lightly alcoholic – 30 proof – and while I wouldn’t want to sip is straight, many people do. The Queen of England and her late mother have been said to love drinking Dubonnet mixed with gin. Classy dames, those two!