Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Widow’s Kiss

There’s still a bit of chill in the air even though we have probably seen the last of winter. Even with warmer days, it can cool down overnight, so this cocktail seems appropriate. We could have put more focus on eggs or family gatherings this week, but we like the rich and complex herbal flavors in this drink so much we decided not to wait any longer to post it, especially as we begin our journey into the warmer months.

So, while it’s still a bit cool outside, here’s a wonderful spirit-driven recipe that pulls together a couple of our favorite components and uses a base spirit we don’t see very often. Calvados is French apple brandy. In most respects it’s similar to Applejack, but it has a softer, more refined flavor. That’s probably a good thing in this drink because there is already plenty going on with the other elements.

Widow’s Kiss
2 oz calvados
1 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Last week, we featured a recipe that paired Green Chartreuse with brandy, and this week we are changing things around just a bit, optiong for Yellow with Calvados. We’ve used Yellow Chartreuse in several other cocktails in the past such as the Norwegian Wood, the Greenpoint and the Alaska cocktail. The big difference here is that we are also using DOM Benedictine. You’d expect it to turn out like a clash of the monasteries producing flavors in opposition, but the layers of herbal complexity actually compliment and support one another.

These liqueurs are centuries old and each are ostensibly the product of French monks following secret formulas handed down through the ages. There is plenty of historical evidence of this for Chartreuse with production still overseen by the monks to this day. But some people question the authenticity of similar stories surrounding Benedictine. It is certainly an old liqueur that, like Chartreuse, has seen its share of imposter copycats come and go, but the monastic history surrounding its beginnings may be more marketing than reality. Whatever you believe, there’s no denying the fact that both liqueurs have enjoyed an important role in the history of cocktails and that neither has any substitute.

Each of them are delicious, but for different reasons, and while they both rely upon secret recipes, our Drink of the Week cannot be made without them. Benedictine’s sweet and unusual herbal flavors mingle uniquely with the compellingly delicate complexity of Yellow Chartreuse. It’s not competition, it’s collaboration. The Calvados is just unusual enough to keep you guessing, yet smoother than a whiskey might be which helps to carry things along.

As you might expect, the combination of these liqueurs puts everything on the sweet side overall. The Angostura Bitters serves to season the cocktail as it melds with the other elements. Just a dash helps bring everything together. You might not know it’s there, but you’d recognize the difference without it. There’s no question, this is a strong cocktail both in terms of it being an all-spirits mixture as well as the fact that every ingredient is strikingly independent when sampled alone. Somehow, it manages to combine in ways that may surprise. Properly chilled and diluted, it’s an excellent sipper worth more as a whole than the sum of the parts. Give it a try before the heat of summer takes over.

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12 years ago

And you can actually order this at The Lowry in Mpls for about $10. It’s on their cocktail menu (or was this winter). A great price considering the ingredients.