Certain ingredients invoke a seasonal feel, and while they may be perfect for that season, branching out and exploring other ways to use a flavor outside of its seasonal time is a great way to try new things. One of these ingredients is apple brandy, which folks normally associate with all the warm spices and flavors of fall. While the US makes some fabulous apple brandies (aka applejack), one of the most world renowned is one distilled in the Normandy region of France, where there is a long tradition of using the fine apples grown in the region to make Calvados. One of the most famous distillers of Calvados is the Boulard family, who has been distilling since 1825. When their promotions group contacted us and asked if we were interested in receiving a sample to use on the blog, we jumped at the chance to get to use this great ingredient in some of our cocktails. (Disclosure: We were provided samples free of charge, all opinions presented in this post are 100% our own!)
Boulard Calvados is made with apples picked from orchards in the Pays d’Auge area of Normandy, France, and then pressed into a dry cider. The cider is fermented and then double distilled using copper pot stills. Boulard’s double distillation process gives their brandy a rich complex flavor perfect for aging in barrels made from French oak over several years. The aging process adds flavors and matures the brandy, resulting in a rich smooth spirit. While French law mandates that Calvados must be aged for a minimum of two years, Boulard Calvados ages theirs for a minimum of four years, allowing their Calvados to mellow into a complex velvety spirit full of ripe apple, vanilla and hints of oak from the barrel aging. The layered mellow flavors makes Boulard Calvados perfect for mixing in cocktails.
While researching the history of Calvados, we kept running across a drink that the locals in Normandy love to drink, Calvados and tonic. We love the refreshing flavors of a good gin and tonic, so when we read about the combination of Calvados and tonic, we thought this might be a good start for a cocktail. Wanting something light and refreshing and fit for spring, we decided that we needed something sweet and floral to bring a little spring flavor to the drink. One of our favorite ways to add a floral note is to use St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, which is sweet and floral, and we know plays well with our favorite tonic, Fever Tree. Adding the St. Germain to the Boulard Calvados and tonic made for a very delicious drink, and once we added a splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a orange peel garnish, we realized we had found a new spring drink! We started out our spring break sitting on our porch sipping the Normandy Flower on a warm spring evening!
- 2 oz Calvados
- 1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
- 1/4 oz Lemon juice
- 4-5 oz Tonic Water (we recommend Fever Tree Tonic)
- Orange peel for garnish
- Add Calvados, St. Germain, and lemon juice into a glass with a large ice cube.
- Top with tonic water.
- Take an orange peel and express the oils onto the top of the drink.
- Use the orange peel for a garnish.