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Apricot Brandy: Apry, Etc.


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#31 Friend of the Farmer

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 08:18 AM

Eau-de-vie is known as 'Brand' in Austria and Germany, and the Hungarian tradition and production is much the same. Many believe the best quality and variety of apricots grow in the Wachau valley in Upper Austria, so its no surprise that most of the award winning producers come from this region. Do a web search on Marillenbrand and you'll find a world of variety.

#32 Martin Doudoroff

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 09:15 AM

A few points:

As far as I know, no, there is no comparable apricot liqueur to Brizard Apry available in the U.S. Pretty much every other brand I've ever tasted was between bad and revolting. It's a sad state of affairs.

Generally speaking, in the United States, you should approach purchasing any liqueur from Bols, Hiram Walker, Jaquin, Llords, Boulaine, or any other marque that seems to produce "one of every flavor" with extreme unease and trepidation. Brizard, despite their distribution problems, is the lone exception: not all are the best, but none are bad. (Note that we've never been able to get more than a fraction of Brizard's entire product line on these shores.) Bols makes decent liqueurs in the Netherlands for the European market, but those products have no relation to the products marketed as Bols in the USA, which are (cheaply and poorly) produced in Canada by a whisky conglomerate. When in doubt, if it seems too cheap to be good, it's probably not fit for consumption.

Regarding terminology: Alas, "Apricot brandy" can refer to either a liqueur (typically low proof, very sweet) or an eau de vie (typically spirit proof and bone dry).

"Apricot flavored brandy" only refers to a liqueur. In the USA, "apricot schnapps" is also a liqueur. Fruit liqueurs almost always have some color (there are a few exceptions). Few fruit liqueurs get above 60 proof, but it isn't out of the question. Fruit liqueurs generally smell and taste something like fruit-flavored candy.

Fruit eau de vies are almost always completely clear and color-less, tend to be spirit-strength (in the vicinity of 80 proof), tend to smell beautifully like the fruit they were distilled from, and tend to taste like wood.

Fruit eau de vies and fruit liqueurs cannot be substituted for each other in cocktails, nor can you produce a fruit liqueur by sweetening a fruit eau de vie.

#33 Friend of the Farmer

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 10:38 AM

To further clarify the distinctions between these products, the TTB/ATF has three categories which must show on the label as:

1) Brandy
2) Flavored Brandy
3) Brandy Liqueur or Brandy Cordial

Producers can sometimes play around with the placement of these words, but the label must be clearly marked with one of these designations in order to be legal for sale in US.

The principal distinction between these is that #1 (Brandy) may not have more than 2.5% of flavorings/colorings/blending materials (sugar or wine) added, whereas #2 and #3 are allowed. So if it's sweet, it must be labelled as either Flavored Brandy or Brandy Liqueur or Brandy Cordial. Important to note that #1 "Brandy" may contain up to 2.5% of flavorings/colorings/blending materials and without any requirement to label as such. So that apricot brandy may contain some added sugar and 'natural' flavorings.

Unfortunately, eau-de-vie and Brandy share the same classification and labelling designation as "Brandy", so if you want a true 100% distillate, hope the product is labelled as such. In Austria, any brandy or "Brand" label must show the % distillate used.

As for flavor profile, the best eau-de-vie smells AND tastes like the best essence of the fresh fruit. The better european fruit liqueurs and schnaps are semi-sweet and can taste like fresh fruit - sometimes because they are made directly from real fruit. The lesser quality liqueurs and USA-style schnapps are much sweeter and can taste like candy - a consequence of using the same added flavorings and lots of sugar!

#34 johnder

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 10:56 AM

So I guess the $10,000 question is:

In all the old classic cocktail recipes that called for

Apricot Brandy

what would it have been? A sweeter liquor based one, or a dryer eau-de-vie?

I am assuming the former.
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#35 Martin Doudoroff

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 02:57 PM

So I guess the $10,000 question is:

In all the old classic cocktail recipes that called for

Apricot Brandy

what would it have been? A sweeter liquor based one, or a dryer eau-de-vie?

I am assuming the former.

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The answer is that you cannot just assume. Most often, it will mean the liqueur, but there are notable exceptions that continue to derail people.

This problem has been exacerbated through clerical errors. Most recipe books are re-statements of recipes from earlier books. One author might erroneously assume that "Apricot brandy" meant the liqueur and rewrite a recipe a calling for "Apricot schnapps". Then a third author might re-state the second author's butchered recipe with different proportions that the third author finds more agreeable. Now you've got an old recipe that may or may not be good, a newer recipe that is almost assuredly undrinkable, and a newest recipe that might be at least okay. And they all have the same name. Happens all the time.

#36 Martin Doudoroff

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:16 PM

To further clarify the distinctions between these products, the TTB/ATF has three categories which must show on the label as:

1) Brandy
2) Flavored Brandy
3) Brandy Liqueur or Brandy Cordial

Producers can sometimes play around with the placement of these words, but the label must be clearly marked with one of these designations in order to be legal for sale in US.

The principal distinction between these is that #1 (Brandy) may not have more than 2.5% of flavorings/colorings/blending materials (sugar or wine) added, whereas #2 and #3 are allowed.  So if it's sweet, it must be labelled as either Flavored Brandy or Brandy Liqueur or Brandy Cordial.  Important to note that #1 "Brandy" may contain up to 2.5% of flavorings/colorings/blending materials and without any requirement to label as such.    So that apricot brandy may contain some added sugar and 'natural' flavorings.

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Interesting. What distinctions does the law draw between categories #2 (flavored brandy) and #3 (brandy liqueur or brandy cordial)?


As for flavor profile, the best eau-de-vie smells AND tastes like the best essence of the fresh fruit.  The better european fruit liqueurs and schnaps are semi-sweet and can taste like fresh fruit - sometimes because they are made directly from real fruit.  The lesser quality liqueurs and USA-style schnapps are much sweeter and can taste like candy - a consequence of using the same added flavorings and lots of sugar!

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I've never encountered an unadulterated eau-de-vie that tastes like fresh fruit, and I cannot see how that would be possible. There's no way enough of those characteristics would survive the distillation process to produce that sensation. The nose, on the other hand, should be spectacular.

It's also worth noting that the better liqueurs tend to be at the higher end of the proof scale, although that is not a sign of quality, per se. Brizard's stuff tends to be 60 proof. I've noticed that herbal liqueurs seem to lend themselves better to high proof than the fruit liqueurs (witness absinthe or get).

#37 eje

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:33 PM

[...]
It's also worth noting that the better liqueurs tend to be at the higher end of the proof scale, although that is not a sign of quality, per se. Brizard's stuff tends to be 60 proof. I've noticed that herbal liqueurs seem to lend themselves better to high proof than the fruit liqueurs (witness absinthe or get).

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get? Not familiar with that.

Yeah, at least with Kirsch vs. Cherry Brandy, most of the time it is safe to assume, if the recipe calls for cherry brandy it's calling for liqueur and if it calls for Kirsch it is the Eau de Vie. Though, I think the verdict is still out on which is supposed to be in the Singapore Sling.

Slightly off topic, is the Peach Brandy called for in the classic Georgia Julep meant to be the liqueur or Eau de Vie?

Oh, and also off topic, by way of exceptions, I have found sweetened plum eau de vie to be an OK substitution for Maraschino liqueur. Much closer than any cherry flavored brandy, anyway.
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#38 Friend of the Farmer

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 06:16 PM

What distinctions does the law draw between categories #2 (flavored brandy) and #3 (brandy liqueur or brandy cordial)?


The TTB has a fairly good guide available for download that provides some insight: http://www.ttb.gov/s...ts/chapter7.pdf While both #2 and #3 can have additive >2.5%, liqueurs elsewhere defined have sugar/sweetener greater than 2.5%, wheras the flavored may only be flavored in excess of 2.5%.

Unadulterated eau-de-vies that capture the fresh taste - they do exist but are wildly uneconomic for cocktails. Try the Reisetbauer line.

Perhaps like others I'd like to have control over the degree of sweetness. I'm wary to serve up insulin shock. :shock:

#39 BTR

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 06:34 PM

I've never encountered an unadulterated eau-de-vie that tastes like fresh fruit, and I cannot see how that would be possible. There's no way enough of those characteristics would survive the distillation process to produce that sensation. The nose, on the other hand, should be spectacular.

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I had, and mentioned in the eau-de-vie thread, an amazing pear eau de vie that tasted very much like fresh pears. I don't know the brand, though.

#40 Splificator

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 06:45 PM

get?  Not familiar with that.
....................
Slightly off topic, is the Peach Brandy called for in the classic Georgia Julep meant to be the liqueur or Eau de Vie?

"Get" is a French brand of creme de menthe that is to the category as Cointreau is to triple sec. It comes in white and green. I could not contemplate life without the white in my house, because that would mean life without Stingers. If you can call it life.

And yes, the peach brandy in the Georgia Julep was a barrel-aged peach eau-de-vie--completely irreplaceable. (Along with good Holland gin and Batavia arrack it's one of the triumvirate of vanished essential spirits of the Saloon Age, and the only one that is made nowhere in the world, to the best of my knowledge.) Rats.
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#41 BTR

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 07:11 PM

Mette makes a peach eau de vie, though it's not barrel-aged.

#42 Martin Doudoroff

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 06:07 AM

The TTB has a fairly good guide available for download that provides some insight: http://www.ttb.gov/s...ts/chapter7.pdf

Thank you for the reference.

#43 johnder

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 09:53 AM

Ok, I give up looking for Apry, so I am trying to figure out how to make some.

Given apricots are out of season I figured I would try dry. I minced up 2 pounds of dried turkish apricots and added them to a jar with vodka to cover. I was planning on letting this sit for a week or two to flavor the vodka and then put the plumped up apricots into a rig in which I can squeeze the living crap out of them.

From this base I was going to add some sugar and maybe some other flavorings to bring it to something palatable.

I have no idea if this will work, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Doing some research I did find this -- looks pretty bizarre:

Apricot Brandy Mix
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#44 sadistick

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 10:12 AM

Better idea...why not just make your own apricot brandy? Thats what I did this past weekend...I made a large batch of apricot jam, saved the pits, and some flesh, tossed it in a jar with some sugar, let that sit for 30 mins, then added the brandy!

Simple, and so much better than the stuff you buy in stores!
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#45 donbert

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 07:39 AM

Has anyone tried the Luxardo Apricot or know where it is sold? This looks promising given how good everything else they do is.

#46 johnder

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 09:22 AM

I haven't been able to find the Luxardo, but I find a place that has a really large selection of apricot flavored brandies/liquors.

I ordered a bottle of:

Maraska Apricot
A fine golden liqueur with the distinctive sweet taste of tree-ripened apricots. The juicy apricots, grown in Croatia are full of taste and characteristic aroma. This fragrant liqueur is an excellent accompaniment to cakes or other desserts at anytime. It is the traditional drink for ladies at weddings in former Yugoslavia.



and a bottle of:

Zwack Apricot Brandy Barack
One of the finest products of the Zwack House, its distinctive and characteristic taste became famous in many countries as early as the beginning of the twentieth century. The famous apricots that grow in the orchards around the town of Kecskemét, and the Zwack Company's know-how in the art of distilling come together to produce a truly delectable apricot eau de vie.


I ordered them from Here.
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#47 scratchline

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 12:04 PM

I've been seeing Apry regularly in liquor stores around the country. Haven't had a problem finding it at all. (I don't know if these are leftover bottles, or if Heaven Hill is distributing effectively.) I'm in NYC, so I'll let you know the next time I see it here--maybe the problem is particular to NY.

In LA, I found some unusual things at a downtown liquor store, among them an old bottle of apricot brandy (not eau-de-vie), made in Germany by Schladerer. Not manufactured any more as far as I could discover via internet research. Very sweet and very apricot-ty. Not to my taste alone on the rocks, but great in vintage cocktail recipes.

#48 Bricktop

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 03:37 AM

I bought a bottle of Apry yesterday. When I got home, I poured a small glass, and it was not at all what I expected. No surprise it was viscous and sweet, but the predominant flavor was of almonds, the apricot pit rather than the flesh. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I think fruitier would have been more versatile.

#49 johnder

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 06:49 AM

Ok, I have an update. I have been corresponding with a rep from Boisset and apparently this is the latest:

We do sell MB Apry in NYC but we have not been able to ship our distributor for over a year due to ther fact that MB Apry was not approved by the TTB. We finally received approve[sic] and believe it or not our distributor in NYC, Charmer just received 20 cases,  first time they have receive any Apry in over a year. That is why no one can find it in the states.


I will believe it when I see it.
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#50 eje

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:21 AM

Ok, I have an update.    I have been corresponding with a rep from Boisset and apparently this is the latest:

We do sell MB Apry in NYC but we have not been able to ship our distributor for over a year due to ther fact that MB Apry was not approved by the TTB. We finally received approve[sic] and believe it or not our distributor in NYC, Charmer just received 20 cases,  first time they have receive any Apry in over a year. That is why no one can find it in the states.


I will believe it when I see it.

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Any word on the rest of the country?

I would hope once they are approved by the TTB, then it is a matter of re-supplying the existing Brizard distributors in other states. Or are there other approval processes they must go through?
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#51 johnder

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:34 AM

Not sure. She is supposed to email me the stores that will get it first in NYC when it leaves the warehouse, I can ask her to do the same for SF and I can let you know.

John
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#52 KatieLoeb

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:51 AM

I've been having pretty good luck using Kassatly Kamardeen syrup and cognac in cocktails, as a substitute for actual apricot brandy. It's an apricot syrup from Lebanon and is available online or at Lebanese and Mediterannean markets.

I have a bottle of the Brizzard Poire William that I'm quite fond of too.

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#53 johnder

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 03:54 PM

BREAKING NEWS ALERT....

I am sitting in pegu looking at a bottle of Apry. Of the cases that were floating around, Audrey now has a few in stock. Lenells is supposed to get some in stock as well.

Let the party begin!

I am going to stop by on Saturday to Lenells to see if they have it yet and I will report back.
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#54 eje

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 05:08 PM

BREAKING NEWS ALERT....

I am sitting in pegu looking at a bottle of Apry. Of the cases that were floating around, Audrey now has a few in stock. Lenells is supposed to get some in stock as well.

Let the party begin!

I am going to stop by on Saturday to Lenells to see if they have it yet and I will report back.

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Hmmm...

2:54 PM and you're at Pegu?

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#55 johnder

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 06:33 AM

I am not that much of a lush. East coast time man. 5:54pm.
:biggrin:
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#56 johnder

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 12:52 PM

Lenells does in fact have Apry on the shelves for any of you in NYC.
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#57 eje

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 09:16 AM

I've asked around and it sounds like Brizard Apry should be available soon in the Bay Area.

The general manager at the Plump Jack Wines Noe Valley Store said his distributor should have it in stock next week. Not sure if he's planning on stocking it in the store. He did look at me kind of strangely when I first asked about it, and say, "I don't get much call for Apricot-ey things". But, they're always happy to special order.
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#58 marty mccabe

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 07:39 AM

Just an fyi for Boston folks, but Apry is available again! Just picked up my first bottle this week. Now, what to make first?!?!
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#59 Dave the Cook

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Posted 16 June 2007 - 09:58 PM

. . . Now, what to make first?!?!

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I started with the recipe for the Paradise on the back of the bottle:

6 parts gin
3 parts Apry
1 part orange juice

It was way sweet. So I turned to Killer Cocktails, from which I extracted the Mike Romanoff:

2 ounces vodka
1 t Cointreau
1 t apricot brandy
3/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Better. A lot better, but very tart. I liked it better at 1/2 oz. lime, though I agree with Wondrich that the bitters make a big difference (the original recipe didin't include them).

I then abandoned research. None of these are terribly sophisticated -- they're all derived from other cocktails -- but they're all tasty. The second is surprisingly complex.

Paradise Regained

From the Brizard recipe, I first went to lemon juice. It wasn't quite sharp enough, so I added bitters -- peach at first, then Peychaud's. Then one day, I had a half a lime and the bottle of Apry was already on the counter. No bitters necessary.

2 oz gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Apry
1/2 oz lime juice

I was on a roll. I'm still learning cocktails, and I decided that I could do worse than do what I did when I was learning how to play guitar: mimic the masters, and hope to find my own way eventually. Hence, the

Apricart

sugar-cinnamon rimmed glass (optional)

2 oz cognac (Landy)
scant 1/2 oz Apry
1/2 oz lemon juice
dash peach bitters (optional; I can't decide)

Then, maybe the best hard cider I've ever had.

Paracide

2 oz Applejack
1/2 oz Apry
1/2 oz lemon juice

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#60 aschbren

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 12:27 AM

If you have some time on your hands, a freezer, and a willingness to flaunt the law, you could make true apricot brandy at home.

Start with pure apricot juice, freeze it slowly to remove water and increase the sugar concentration. Then add a cider yeast starter (available from a home brew store) and/or wine yeast and allow it to ferment for 3-6 months. At this point you'll have apricot wine.

Now proceed as if you were making applejack and just freeze it repeatedly, discarding any ice that forms until it stops forming. The final alcohol concentration will depend upon the temperature of your freezer. When you make applejack, most people can achieve 60 proof using the freezer.

As I noted above, I wouldn't tell the ATF if you do this as fractional crystallization is considered a form of distillation (i.e. technically a felony as if you were operating an illegal still). If you're sure the feds aren't going to raid your home, you should be fine though...