Stephen Blackmon of Doar Bros. in Charleston riffs on the classic vieux carré with a drink that transports you to the apple orchard. Calvados, a French apple brandy, steps in for the cognac, while the same rye brings a spice-driven punch.
A homemade shrub with honey crisp apples and apple cider vinegar does a lot of the heavy lifting–and it’s easier than you think. The secret ingredient, though, is the cardamom bitters. “It’s a very French-driven ingredient. When I was in France, I definitely got the feeling that they love using cardamom,” Blackmon says. But use with caution: A few drops are plenty per cocktail to bring a herbaceous touch without overwhelming the other delicate flavors for a savory, punchy take on apple pie.
Makes 1 cocktail
¾ ounce brandy (Calvados Boulard VSOP)
½ ounce Rittenhouse rye
½ ounce quinquina (Cap Corse Mattei Rouge)
½ ounce yellow chartreuse
¾ ounce spiced honey crisp apple shrub (recipe follows)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
2 drops cardamom bitters
Garnish: Apple slices
8 honey crisp apples (or 4 apples and 1 cup apple juice)
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground clove
3 star anise pods
1 cup demerara sugar
Raw apple cider vinegar
Honeycrisp apple shrub
Make the spiced honeycrisp apple shrub: Juice 4 apples and dice the remaining 4 apples. Combine juice, diced apples, and spices in a container. Cover with sugar and let macerate for up to 48 hours.
Add macerated apples and syrup to a small pot with an equal ratio of apple cider vinegar. Bring to a low simmer, then remove from heat and set aside for up to 1 hour. Pour through a fine mesh strainer, discarding solids, and refrigerate liquid.
Make pomarré: In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients except garnish with ice.
- Stir, then strain into a chilled coupe or nick & nora glass and garnish with a fan of apple slices.