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TODAY’S FRANCE Cocktails With French Flair

Posted on  | January 24, 2014   Bookmark and Share
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Troy Sidle, bartender/partner at Pouring Ribbons in NYC, offers a few classic and original cocktails.

What do the Statue of Liberty, foie gras and the dry martini have in common? For each of them, we owe a debt of gratitude to France. The cocktail may be an American creation, but without critical ingredients like dry vermouth, first produced in France by Joseph Noilly, namesake of Noilly Prat, as well as high-quality spirits like Cognac and original liqueurs like Chartreuse, many classic cocktails simply would not exist. France offers a great tradition of liqueurs, wine and spirits, many of which actually predate the invention of the cocktail, making them an integral part of cocktail history.

That tradition appears strong at New York City’s Pouring Ribbons, where Troy Sidle, partner in Pouring Ribbons and Alchemy Consulting, offers a list of classic and original cocktails, many of which include French spirits, liqueurs or wines. There is even a list of 18 vintages of Chartreuse, a tribute to one of Sidle’s favorite French spirits.

Unlike bourbon or gin, French ingredients rarely take center stage in a cocktail. But, that makes them no less important. Much like a dash of fleur de sel from Brittany or a sliver of black truffle from Provence, these Gallic specialties are irreplaceable. When added to cocktails, they lend complexity, balance, intrigue and that elusive je ne sais quoi. Here, Sidle shares his strategies for utilizing French ingredients, both popular and lesser known.

Green Chartreuse
This green liqueur is produced by Carthusian monks in the French Alps from over 130 different types of flowers, herbs, roots and other botanicals.

Sidle says: “A fascinating spirit, Chartreuse is the oldest liqueur in the world. It’s sort of like truffle oil, you put a touch in and you cannot miss it. However, it’s best in small doses that make a cocktail complex and interesting.”

Bénédictine    
Founded in 1863, this liqueur actually dates to the Benedictine monk Don Bernardo Vincelli, who created it using 27 plants and spices in 1510. Key ingredients include Angelica, Hyssop and Lemon Balm.

Sidle says: “While often enjoyed with brandy, as B&B, it works really well with Scotch, too. It carries a lot of honey notes, so that makes a nice inclusion as well. When using Bénédictine in a cocktail, you don’t need a lot of other ingredients.”

Cointreau    
Created by Edouard Cointreau in 1875, Cointreau is the first triple sec, an 80-proof spirit that balances sweet and bitter orange flavors.

Sidle says: “A lot of time a generic triple sec will have some orange color; that makes Cointreau the choice for something in a martini glass that you want to remain clear. It also offers a very distinct and authentic orange flavor.

Chambord
A black raspberry liqueur, Chambord is created by infusing raspberries and blackberries for a total of six weeks in neutral spirits. This is blended with natural fruit extracts, Cognac, Madagascar vanilla and other fragrant herbs before final blending.

Sidle says: “As a sweeter liqueur, Chambord is a great opportunity to balance with something bitter, like Angostura bitters. Try Chambord as a complement to other harsher spirits, like balancing a really intense smoky mezcal with something so sweet and pretty.”

Calvados
Apple brandy from Normandy in northern France, Calvados can be distilled from fermented ciders from over 200 varieties of apples.  

Sidle says: “Like Cognac, this is potentially best sipped on its own. I just really respect and love the flavor of this refined apple brandy. You could look to substituting it in Cognac cocktails to create something similar but with apple flavor.”

Absinthe
While it originated in Switzerland, this high-proof anise-flavored spirit is most associated with France’s Belle Epoque and known for its reputed hallucinogenic effects. A longstanding ban in the U.S. was lifted in 2007, opening the market to Lucid Absinthe, which was then followed by others.

Sidle says: “Now that the sensation has died down, we are seeing absinthe used in a less heavy-handed way. It works well in small amounts, as in a Sazerac where the glass is rinsed with Absinthe to ensure you don’t use too much. Drinks made this way can be called “Sazerac style.”

Dry (French) Vermouth
“Vermouth” is a French pronunciation of the German word for wormwood, a bittering ingredient used in this back bar staple. Technically wine flavored with aromatic herbs, dry vermouth, like that used in the martini was created in France around 1813 by Joseph Noilly.

Sidle says: “I never met a dry vermouth I didn’t like. The most important thing is to keep it fresh by buying small bottles and tasting it before each use. As soon as it’s no longer fresh, it’s best used for cooking.”

Lillet    
Founded in Bordeaux in 1872, Lillet is a brand name aperitif, with Lillet Blanc the modern incarnation of the founder’s original Kina Lillet. More recent additions include a Rouge (1962) and Rosé (2011).

Sidle says: “Lillet is really a sweet vermouth that is light in color, so it holds a unique position. You can take a Manhattan template, using sweet vermouth, and create variations using Lillet. It’s also a natural fit with orange bitters.”

A Selection of  Cocktail Recipes

Last Word by Troy Sidle

¾ oz. Ford’s Gin
¾ oz. Green Chartreuse
¾ oz. Fresh lime juice
¾ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

Holidays Away by Troy Sidle

1½ oz. Bowmore Legend Scotch Whisky
½ oz. Unicum
¼ oz. Honey syrup
1/8 oz. Benedictine
Garnish: Lemon twist

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass over ice cubes, or a single large ice cylinder.


Cosmopolitan

1½ oz. Pinnacle Citrus vodka
½ oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Cranberry juice
½ oz. Fresh lime juice
Garnish: Lemon twist

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

Grand O adapted from Grand Marnier

1 1/3 oz. Grand Marnier liquor
2 oz. Fresh orange juice
2 oz. Club soda
1 Lemon wedge
Garnish:  2-3 seasonal berries

In a tall glass, pour Grand Marnier and orange juice over ice cubes. Fill up with soda water. Squeeze a wedge of lemon above the glass and add same wedge in the glass.

 

French Martini

1½ oz. Vodka
½ oz. Chambord liqueur
2 oz. Pineapple juice
Garnish: Fresh raspberries

Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Champagne Cocktail by Troy Sidle

1 Sugar cube
15 drops Angostura Bitters
5 oz. Champagne or French Brut
Garnish: Long lemon twist

In a chilled cocktail glass, add the sugar cube and soak with Angostura bitters. Add the spiral twist of lemon and fill the glass with Champagne.

 

Fort Julep by Troy Sidle

1½ oz. Lillet Rosé
½ oz. Green Chartreuse
5 Mint leaves
Garnish: Mint sprig

Lightly press mint into the bottom of a silver julep cup or rocks glass. Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the cup with mint.

 

Classic Dry Martini by Troy Sidle

2 oz. Beefeater Gin
1 oz. Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
1 dash Orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Sidecar

1½ oz. Cognac
¾ oz. Cointreau
¾ oz. Fresh lemon juice
1 Lemon wedge
Fine sugar

Prepare a cocktail glass by rubbing the outside rim with lemon juice and dipping it in sugar. Add the liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the prepared glass.

 

Hypnosis

1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1½ oz. Hpnotiq
½ oz. Lemonade or sour mix
2 oz. Lemon-lime soda
1 Lemon wedge

Fill a tall glass with ice and add Lucid Absinthe, Hpnotiq, lemonade and fill with lemon-lime soda.

 

Widow’s Kiss

1½ oz. Calvados
¾ oz. yellow Chartreuse
¾ oz. Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish: Maraschino cherry

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

Aviation

2 oz. London dry gin
½ oz. Fresh lemon juice
¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
¼ oz. Crème de Violette
Garnish: Maraschino cherry

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

 

Violette Royale

½ oz. Crème de Violette
5 oz. Champagne

Add Crème de Violette to a flute. Top with Champagne and stir gently.


Bijou

1 oz. Green Chartreuse
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Sweet vermouth
1 dash Orange bitters
Garnish: Maraschino cherry

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

 

Bobby Burns

2 oz. Scotch malt whisky
3/4 oz. Sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. Benedictine

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

Cointreau Fizz Cucumber and Basil adapted from Cointreau

1 ½ oz. of Cointreau
¾ oz. Fresh lime juice
3 Slices fresh cucumber
4 Fresh basil leaves
1 ½ oz. Club soda

In a shaker glass, muddle the cucumber slices with basil leaves, add Cointreau and lime juice and ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with club soda.

 

Margarita

1½ oz. Tequila
1 oz. Grand Marnier® liqueur
¾ oz. Fresh lime juice
Garnish: Lime wedge

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.


Bramble Bar Cocktail

2 oz. Chivas Regal blended Scotch whisky
2 oz. Apple juice
1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. St. Germain Elderflower cordial
2 oz. Club soda

In a Collins glass, combine the first four ingredients. Add ice, top with club soda. Stir gently.

 

The Sweet Taste of Victory created by Hal Wolin, New York, New York, courtesy Chambord

2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
3/4 oz. Chambord liqueur
3/4 oz. Vanilla Syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s® Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a Coupe glass. Garnish with any three of brandied blackberries, brandied raspberries or regular blackberries.

 

Sazerac as prepared by Troy Sidle

2 oz. Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1/4 oz Demerara syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1/8 oz. Pernod Absinthe
Garnish: Lemon peel

Prepare a rocks glass by adding the Pernod Absinthe, swirling to coat, then discarding the liquid. Add the remaining liquid ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into the rocks glass. Garnish by twisting the lemon peel over the glass and adding it to the drink.


El Diablo

2 oz. Tequila
3/4 oz. Créme de cassis
3 oz. Ginger ale
1 Lime wedge

In a collins glass filled with ice, add Tequila and crème de cassis. Top with ginger ale and stir gently. Squeeze the lime wedge and add it to the drink.


Black Forest Martini adapted from Bols Liqueurs

½ oz. Bols Strawberry
½ oz. Bols Crème de Cassis
½ oz. Bols Vodka
½ oz. Cream
½ oz. Simple Syrup

Add all ingredients except cream to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the cream on the surface of the cocktail.

 

Rémy Martin Jasmine Tea adapted from Remy-Martin

1 1/2 oz. Rémy Martin VSOP
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
4 oz. Iced jasmine tea
1 Dash Fresh lemon juice
Garnish: 1 slice of lemon

Pour Rémy Martin VSOP, the simple syrup and the jasmine tea in a long drink glass over crushed. Add a dash of lemon juice, stir and add a straw.

 

Ti’ Punch

2 oz. Rhum Agricole
½ lime
1 oz. simple syrup

Squeeze lime into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice, and add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.

 

F.W.I. Revolver adapted from Rhum Clement

2 oz. VSOP Rhum Vieux
1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg, orange wheel, brandied cherry

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled tumbler or Collins glass. Garnish by grating nutmeg and adding the orange wheel and brandied cherry.


Moët Golden Glamour created for the 2010 Academy Awards by Moët Hennessy

4 oz. Moët & Chandon Imperial Champagne
1/4 oz. Navan liqueur
1 1/2 oz. Passion Fruit Juice
Garnish: Mint sprig

Combine all ingredients in a flute. Top with fresh sprig of mint for garnish.

 

Anne-Rosine adapted from Noilly-Prat

2 oz. Noilly Prat Original Dry
1/2 oz. Grey Goose® vodka
1 oz. Freshly grapefruit juice
¼ oz. Grenadine
Garnish: Pink grapefruit zest

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the grapefruit zest.

 

Vesper as enjoyed by James Bond

3 oz. Gordon’s Gin
1 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Lillet
Garnish: Lemon peel

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon peel.


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Links to other Today’s France stories

Selling French Wine in the 21st Century
Cognac Courts Bartenders


Comments

  1. » TODAY’S FRANCE Selling French Wine in the 21st Century Beverage Media Group
    January 22nd, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

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