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Poor Liza

Poor LizaWe love drinks with Chartreuse so we are always on the lookout for when this ingredient pops up on a menu. There are a few bars around the country that have featured this drink because it's another masterpiece from the Violet Hour's Toby Maloney. We've been hanging on to the recipe for the Poor Liza for years but haven't been able to make it because we lacked the base spirit. It requires Poire William, or Bartlett pear brandy. Not to be confused with pear liqueur, this is a dry eau de vie—a true brandy made from whole fruit, fermented and distilled.

If you aren't familiar with pear brandy, you've probably seen the bottles—you know, the ones typically made in France with the whole pear remarkably contained within the bottle. We've always admired the novelty of growing fruit inside a bottle hanging from a tree branch, but frankly, we'd rather not lose the volume of brandy to a pear we cannot eat!

Obtaining this elixir hasn't been a priority, and we suspect it is somewhat rare in the typical home imbiber's cabinet too. However, living in Portland, Oregon has some nice perks when it comes to cocktails. The pear happens to be an important agricultural product here, but more importantly, Clear Creek Distillery calls the area home. Their top-selling award-winning product is Pear Brandy, and we now understand why!

Poor LizaPoor Liza
2 oz Clear Creek Pear Brandy (or other Poire William eau de vie)
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz Green Chartreuse
.5 oz simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with several drops of Peychaud's bitters and finish with a flamed orange peel.

Toby describe's this drink as a Poir Williams Champs Élysées and that's pretty accurate. Aside from a few tweaks to the proportions, Poor Liza opts for lime instead of lemon and Peychaud's bitters instead of Angostura.

When we first tasted Clear Creek Pear we weren't sure this would work at all. The pear flavor is so potent, crisp and delicious, this brandy all by itself is like biting into ripe fruit. It's that good. But the moment we tasted our drink, we were convinced. Pear brandy will remain a permanent fixture in our liquor cabinet!

Breaking it down, the Chartreuse pairs with pear perfectly! Something about its herbal character mingles nicely with the fruit skin flavors in the brandy, adding just a bit of sweetness strengthened by the simple syrup, yet balanced by the lime. The bitters work nicely to bring it all together and the flamed orange peel does its usual wonders with the nose. Absolutely perfect!

9 comments to Poor Liza

  • This I've got to try - as soon as I get some Poire William. I love Chartreuse and can't wait to mix it with something other than gin.

  • claydesta

    We usually have clear creek pear brandy but were out (my wife microwaves it in the middle of the night and inhales it like cognac if she has a bad cold........) BUT we had a bottle of clear creek eau de vie poire I got for my birthday, (which has a pear in the bottle) so I made this with that and, um, accidentally used angostura instead of peychaud. it was great! I'll try it again with Peychaud. we were having "Chartreuse-fest" and had a couple of different drinks. this was the best autumn drink. they Lumière was the best "summer-y" drink.

    • It's time for me to revisit this one and I'll try it with Ango. Seems likes fine plan. I'll look into the Lumière. In case I cannot find it, do you have a recipe for it you can share?

  • Paul

    Tried this today with a French Poire Williams eau de vie ( 80 proof ), and I must say that the pear flavor comes through strongly, but it has also a quite harsh pure spirit taste to it, sweet -YES and edgy, with the Chartreuse popping up in the rear. It lacks nuances and and I can't say it's my cup of tea. I am starting to think that it's just The Poir Williams I really can't come to terms with, and I don't think it's the brand, but just the liquor itself. I tried it in The Copper Penny too, which I didn't like.

  • Rick Wood

    Just did the Poor Lisa with Lairds Apple Brandy 12 year. I live on Guam Island and we have a very poor selection of liquors. My daughter brought the apple brandy and chartreuse (green) from the US some time back. I am wondering how close the apple brandy version would compare to the Pear version?

    Also any thoughts on cutting back on green chartreuse a bit to simulate a drink calling for yellow variety?

    Anyhow, love your blog. Yours and Robert Hess's blog are my goto sites for inspiration.
    Thanks

    • Rick,
      All the way from Guam? That's fantastic! Thanks for the kind words.

      I don't see why you can't make a decent drink using this formula with the apple brandy. It will be a different drink, but subbing base spirits is what cocktail creativity is all about. For the Poor Liza, there's definitely something to be said about how Chartreuse brings out the flavor of the pear, or vice versa. That's not to say similar magic cannot happen with apple. It probably can. I'd go with the idea and see if needs more or less Chartreuse. It may be that one obscures the other until, for example, you add some lemon juice to bring out more apple flavors. I'm curious about what you might create, but snot be afraid to experiment. I know, it means your precious inventory goes down, but you can make scaled down experiments to see how things work. Sometimes smelling both bottles together will give you an idea how they will combine in a glass.

      As for the yellow Chartreuse, subbing green is pretty common and you would use less green to approximate the same intensity. Yellow is also sweeter, so you might need to make other adjustments in a recipe to compensate.

      Thanks for reading! Is there anything drink related that is specific or unique to Guam that you can share?

  • Rick Wood

    Thought I had responded. I got a bottle of Williams Brine pear brandy and did the poor Lisa..Very nice - better than with applejack. When I tried it befor I only had Lairds unbounded. Got lairds 7 and 12 year apple brandy and those were better.

    Not ant real special things here. We have no alcohol commercial production except a brewpub that I own and operate. The Mermaid Tavern and Grille. There is an artesian product called Tuba which is fermented wild. It is sold on the roadside. It is also distilled product from the tuba.

    Cheers Rick

  • Rick Wood

    Hafa Adai from Guam
    There's not much of it around. Making tuba is a bit of a nuisance. The
    coconut flower spike is cut off and a container is attached to collect the
    rising sap. Sweet tuba is the unfermented product, although ia bit of
    fermention occurs. If hard tuba is desired it is just allowed to sit for
    more time. The fermentation is accomplished with wild yeast and is also
    soured.

    It is then distilled (although not so much anymore). A simple "moonshine"
    type still is used. I have never tested the proof of the product as I
    have not seen much of it. It is quite alcoholic, certainly moderately
    over 100 proof. It is drank unaged. It is rather harsh, but I guess it
    gets the job done. Not a whole lot of flavor in the efforts I have
    tasted. Maybe a tiny coconut flavor???? Probably would be classified
    closest to a rhum agricole.

    Cheers Rick

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