Eau-de-vie Cocktails

As I flipped through my June 2008 issue of Food & Wine magazine, I noticed an article on a new trend in bartending mixology – crafting cocktails using eau-de-vie.  I chuckled to myself and remembered the day last fall year when Bob and I mixed and sipped and mixed and sipped some more as we tried to develop the prefect combination of spirits for an eau-de-vie recipe to feature in our book HOT DRINKS: Cider, Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, Spiced Punch, Spirits. http://www.cooksshophere.com/products/hot_drinks.htm

We wanted to include a drink using eau-de-vie, a  family of liqueurs we have come to love and which we associate with our many wonderful food-discovery trips to France. In fact, years ago, we spent a delightful afternoon visiting the Clovis Reymond distillery in Villamblard, Perigord and dragged home six or so various bottles which we enjoy using in desserts, as after-dinner liqueurs, etc.

Eau-de-vie is clear brandy distilled from fruit. Please do not confuse these glorious brandies with simple fruit flavored brandy – that is like confusing artisan cheese with ‘you-know-what’ in a box. The best eau-de-vies possess rich, ripe concentrated fruit flavors and ethereal, intense aromas – a liquid expression of the fruit ( albeit with a burn and a kick). They are clear in color but fiery in taste, and have a high alcohol content.

Classified as brandy, these liqueurs are distilled 100% from ripe fruit such as pears ( Pear William ), cherries ( Cerise ), raspberries ( Framboise), yellow plums ( Mirabelle ), black currants ( Cassis), apricots ( Abricots). Eau-de-vie as the name implies, is often synonomous with France, in particular the orchard-heavy regions of Alsace and the Dordogne. But other European countries and several producers in the USA also distill this potent elixir.

It took a bit of crafting and fiddling for us to get the balance of flavors we wanted in the drink just right. When we finally said ‘This is it ‘ we named our drink Pan-Asian Pear William. We added a touch of Japanese sake to smooth the alcohol ‘bite’ from the two brandies and add a faint sweetness. The drink was created to be enjoyed hot, but served chilled ( stirred with ice but served without ice ) in a stylish liqueur glass would be nice too in on a warm summer evening.

Pan-Asian Pear William

Serves 2

2 tablespoons ( 1 ounce ) junmai ginjo sake

2 tablespoons ( 1 ounce ) Pear Williams eau-de-vie

2 teaspoons Calvados

1/4 cup freshly-drawn water

Combine sake, Pear William, Calvados and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Ladle into sherry glasses or small, clear glass cups and serve steaming hot.

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