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Jason Perlow

Calvados

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Calvados article in Saveur

I have about 5 bottles of this excellent spirit at home of various ages... Rachel and I are going to Normandy this summer, anyone have any good recommendations for good Calvados distilleries/producers to visit, with accompanying restaurants in the region?

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I don't have any suggestions along that line, but I'd urge you to also profusely sample the wonderful hard ciders of Normandy. Try some small producers, whose products can be found in better shops and at the outdoor markets. There should also be no shortage of rich fat local cow's milk cheeses.

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Jason--I had two meals in Rouen on a slight detour on my way to Tours--at Gill, worth every Michelin star (two) and at Le P' tit Zinc (I think it might have been a one star.)  I came away from both terribly impressed with the gastronomic value of the American dollar outside of Paris.  I had the most extensive/most expensive tasting menu option at each place--and left thinking I didn't pay enough.

Also, I seem to remember a nice piece by R.W. Apple on Calvados not too long ago in the Times.

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Dumb question #463: Since we have no plans to visit Normandy in the near future, and since I have been interested in finding some good Calvados, and since I haven't a clue what "good" Calvados is, can some of you help me?  We stock what is supposedly decent Calvados for cooking purposes.  I am currently paying around $35./for a "short" 5th.  I don't find it particularly "delicious".  I have also tasted what was purported to be 20 yr old stuff at a producer tasting; it was firey, but didn't have a substantial layer of fruit flavor.  What I need to know is, is there such a thing as a Calvados that is both firey and "apple-tasting".  Not sweet, but with a strong apple presence? Or am I looking for something that isn't charactistic of the beast?

I would particularly like to hear about producers whose stuff I could find in Paris.

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I have been reading Mirabelle Osler's book "The Elusive Truffle," which contains a particularly wonderful chapter on Normandy.  As the book is a few years old, I do not know if the information is still relevant.

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Not sure if these offer tours or tastings, but my faves are : Lemorton and Drouhin (different from the Burgundy)

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Calvados article in Saveur

I have about 5 bottles of this excellent spirit at home of various ages... Rachel and I are going to Normandy this summer, anyone have any good recommendations for good Calvados distilleries/producers to visit, with accompanying restaurants in the region?

Be careful - that article was, according to the fine print, first written in 1994. I hate it when they reprint articles - why can't they ante up and hire someone (even the original writer would be better than just reprinting) to update it or do a new one? A lot has happened in last eight years...

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I think the Saveur web page is just a collection of their past articles and not competition for the magazine itself. Let's be happy to have some access to their archives at our fingertips. I also think the Calvados guy is spelled Drouin and not like the Burgundy Drouhin. Jason, be on the lookout for either spelling, or producers we've not even mentioned.

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I also think the Calvados guy is spelled Drouin and not like the Burgundy Drouhin.

I stand corrected - the Coeur de Lion is indeed from Christian DROUIN, though there are misspellings of his name all over the 'net - even on the French websites.

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I have the Cour de Leon 25 year old at home, got it from Astor Liquors in the Village. Great stuff.

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I have the Cour de Leon 25 year old at home, got it from Astor Liquors in the Village. Great stuff.

See if you can get your hot little hands on the "800th Anniversary" edition - I'd be curious to know if this is available in NYC (or environs) and if so, how much it costs. It's amazing. Also if you don't mind my asking, how much the 25-year-old was? Thanks!

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Mirabel Osler is one of my most valued friends, so my word on "The Elusive Truffle" is supect. However, take it for whatever its worth. One recommendation of hers was very much up to date a year ago, and that's Au Caneton in Orbec. After a couple of solo visits I subsequently took my wife there on the way back to London from the Ile de Re and she was so enamoured of it that we stopped nearby overnight and ate there three times in two days. Worth a detour? Worth a standstill!

Mirabel's preferred title (for reasons which are apparent upon reading the book) was "The Elusive Salamander" but her publisher deemed it too obscure. Having titled my own book "Through Darkest Gaul with Trencher and Tastevin", my sympathies are obviously with her!

It's worth noting that the recipes from various restaurants that are scattered through "The Elusive Truffle" were checked and given final form by Shaun Hill, a Ludlow neighbor of Mirabel's.

My view of calvados is colored by a bottle once given to me by an impoverished aristocrat running a B&B near Giverny. A barrel had been discovered in the family chateau which dated back to 1910. It was smooth as silk and both smelled and tasted of fresh apples.

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...For Calvados, we use the Couer de Lion at Rouge for our Calvados Sidecars.  It's about $25 in PA for a 750ml.  Undoubtedly less wherever you live. :rolleyes:  The only other Calvados I have any extensive experience with is the Pere Magliore which is about $5 more.  We used to serve that by itself and used the Couer de Lion for mixing.  Boulard also makes an under-$30 Calvados that I'm certain would be fine for sidecars.

Let me know how the experimenting goes!  Have fun!  :smile:

Thanks again, Katie!

My second and third favorite liquor stores have websites and here's what turned up:

Coeur de Lion Pommeau Calvados, France 750ml $17.99/Bottle

Coeur Lion Selection Calvados 750ML $24.99/btl

Coeur de Lion Reserve Calvados, France 750ml $29.99/Bottle

Coeur Lion Calvados Fine 750ML $34.99/btl

Coeur de Lion "VSOP" Calvados 750ml $49.99/Bottle

Do you know if one of these is the "at Rouge" under a different name? The Coeur de Lion homepage wasn't helpful. The photos aren't too clear but it appears the labels of the "Fine", the "Reserve" and the "VSOP" also say "Calvados du Pays d'Auge". My high school French is well beyond it's expiration date. Is "d'Auge" French for "at rouge"?

One of the shops has the Pere Magliore Fine (750ml) at $27.99/Bottle. They also have a Boulard calvados but at $102 something tells me that's not the one you were referring to. :wink: I'm thinking the P.Magliore might be the best deal of the bunch. Apparently Chicago prices aren't significantly different from PA prices.

I'll be sure to post again once I've experimented a bit.

Thanks again.

Kurt

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Kurt:

I'm looking right at a bottle of it as I type this. It's the Calvados Coeur de Lion Sélection that we use for Sidecar mixing here at my restaurant, Rouge. That's the one that's $25.99 from the PLCB.

The sugar rimmed glass that Ian and Sam both mentioned is also de rigeur for a proper Sidecar. Sam's recipe proportions look just right.

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....It's the Calvados Coeur de Lion Sélection that we use for Sidecar mixing here at my restaurant, Rouge....

Dang. I knew that. Boy, do I feel silly.

Thanks very much everyone.

Kurt

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Admin: posts merged in from Sidecar thread.

An interesting article in today's New York Times about Calvados:

An Apple Orchard in a Glass

They don't talk about Calvados sidecars, but the information is excellent and the tasting notes quite helpful.

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An interesting article in today's New York Times about Calvados:

An Apple Orchard in a Glass

They don't talk about Calvados sidecars, but the information is excellent and the tasting notes quite helpful.

Actually, Calvados sidecars are mentioned, and ultimately brushed off by none other than King Cocktail Dale DeGroff himself:

"The don't lend themselves to cocktails," he said. "They just come through too strongly."

The same paragraph then goes on to assert that the Jack Rose calls for Calvados. Seems to me I've always thought the Jack Rose calls for Apple Jack. That's how I always make 'em, anyway.

Christopher

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An interesting article in today's New York Times about Calvados:

An Apple Orchard in a Glass

They don't talk about Calvados sidecars, but the information is excellent and the tasting notes quite helpful.

Actually, Calvados sidecars are mentioned, and ultimately brushed off by none other than King Cocktail Dale DeGroff himself:

"The don't lend themselves to cocktails," he said. "They just come through too strongly."

The same paragraph then goes on to assert that the Jack Rose calls for Calvados. Seems to me I've always thought the Jack Rose calls for Apple Jack. That's how I always make 'em, anyway.

As far as I know, calvados, Cointreau and lemon juice was named the Royal Jubilee back in the day by none other than Harry Craddock. And, yea, also as far as I know, the Jack Rose is made with applejack.

I don't know about using calvados as the sole base spirit in a cocktail, but the calvados boost in Audrey's Tantris Sidecar makes a world of difference without overpowering.

Very cool article, though. I agree with the authors that some of the younger, less expensive calvados bottlings can actually be better and taste more strongly of apples.

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Picked up a bottle of the Daron Fine calvados last night and mixed up a Calvados Sidecar with the Marie Brizard triple sec I picked up a while ago. I went with 2:1:1 and it was delish. My pal Des thought so too.

Since it was a "school night" we stopped at one but we both look forward to tweaking the ratio and also to comparing a Marie Brizard sidecar glass to glass against a Cointreau sidecar. I'm thinking that a smidge less lemon juice and a smidge more triple sec will lead to my ideal Calvados Sidecar but who knows. My first thought was that my Margarita ratio of 3:2:1 might be the way to go. Further research must be done.

It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Kurt

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Admin: threads merged

I bought a bottle of Calvados recently... Bushnel VSOP. So far so good I enjpy it.

Wondering what any one else thinks about this libation any and all thoughts

appreciated.

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I've never had the Bushnel. The VSOP I have here is Meslon and its ok for mixing but not a great sipping brandy.

The Cour de Leon 25 years is really nice if you can find it. Also the Boulard 21 years, but someone got me that bottle in France at Charles De Gaulle.

Calvados is really hard to find in the US in general, and even in France it has the lowest production out of the three types of brandy exported by that country.

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Here is some calvados talk from the thread on the Sidecar cocktail (edited to include only discussion relevant to calvados.

Try a Calvados sidecar sometime.  Those are really yummy!  :wub:

If you have a Calvados recommendation I'd appreciate that too.

For Calvados, we use the Couer de Lion at Rouge for our Calvados Sidecars. It's about $25 in PA for a 750ml. Undoubtedly less wherever you live. :rolleyes: The only other Calvados I have any extensive experience with is the Pere Magliore which is about $5 more. We used to serve that by itself and used the Couer de Lion for mixing. Boulard also makes an under-$30 Calvados that I'm certain would be fine for sidecars.

My second and third favorite liquor stores have websites and here's what turned up:

Coeur de Lion Pommeau Calvados, France 750ml $17.99/Bottle

Coeur Lion Selection Calvados 750ML $24.99/btl

Coeur de Lion Reserve Calvados, France 750ml $29.99/Bottle

Coeur Lion Calvados Fine 750ML $34.99/btl

Coeur de Lion "VSOP" Calvados 750ml $49.99/Bottle

Do you know if one of these is the "at Rouge" under a different name? The Coeur de Lion homepage wasn't helpful. The photos aren't too clear but it appears the labels of the "Fine", the "Reserve" and the "VSOP" also say "Calvados du Pays d'Auge". My high school French is well beyond it's expiration date. Is "d'Auge" French for "at rouge"?

One of the shops has the Pere Magliore Fine (750ml) at $27.99/Bottle. They also have a Boulard calvados but at $102 something tells me that's not the one you were referring to. :wink: I'm thinking the P.Magliore might be the best deal of the bunch. Apparently Chicago prices aren't significantly different from PA prices.

Kurt, the "d'Auge" part means "from Auge." It's part of the regulation for calvados d'appellation contrôlée. A Calvados so named must be distilled form apples grown in the orchards of the Pays d'Auge.

An interesting article in today's New York Times about Calvados:

An Apple Orchard in a Glass

Very cool article, though. I agree with the authors that some of the younger, less expensive calvados bottlings can actually be better and taste more strongly of apples.

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I'll second -- or is it seventh -- all of the above recommendations for the Calvados of Christian Drouin. If you don't mind starting at the $50ish price point, I'd highly recommend skipping right past the "Selection" and other entry-level bottlings and starting with the VSOP. It's a great introduction to the real thing. Great fruit, pure flavors, unadulterated power, no added caramel.... From there, move on to some of his vintage bottlings. The 1973 is available on today's market for somewhere in the $125 ballpark and is absolutely stunning.

Also, look out for the Calvados and biodynamic apple and pear ciders of Eric Bordelet. They'll be much harder to source on the US market but they're well worth the search, particularly the ciders.

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It isn't a calvados per se, since it isn't from France, but Clear Creek Distillery makes a spectacular "Eau de Vie de Pomme" using the traditional methods of Normandy's calvados makers. It's distilled from good old Granny Smith apples from Oregon and aged 8 years in old Limousin oak Cognac barrels. It's often been called "American calvados," and is rated higher than many examples of actual calvados. A 750 ml bottle will only set you back around 35 bucks.

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