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Falling Leaves Cocktail


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New York Metro just ran a blurb on one of Audrey "Libation Goddess" Saunders' new cocktails at Bemelmans: Falling Leaves.

Pungent pear eau de vie from upstate New York lends the drink suppleness, while the high acidity of Riesling provides backbone. The result? Autumn's multihued spectrum in a glass.

I'm pretty sure Clear Creek Distillery is in Oregon and not upstate NY, but I quibble...

The recipe includes pear eau de vie, reisling, honey syrup, orange curaçao, Peychaud's bitters and a star anise garnish.

I was able to try one of these a few weeks ago when I visited Bemelman's with JAZ, Fat Guy, Splificator, Eric_Malson and bergerka to be dazzled by Audrey's mixology. It's a very interesting drink. In many ways it's a cocktail unlike any other with which I am familiar. More subtly flavored and, since the base "liquor" is reisling, with less alcoholic kick than most cocktails (substantially less kick than a Manhattan or Martini). It also needed to spend some time in the glass and warm up slightly for the flavors to have full impact. So, it's a drink that one can have two ways -- taken straight from the shaker it's a light and subtle quencher, after a minute or two it's a more complex and full flavored drink for sipping and thinking.

I'm not aware of any other cocktails (which is to say, short strong drinks chilled with ice and served "up") that have wine as the base alcohol.

One thing I have always noted about any of Audrey's recipes, unlike those from certain other notables in the cocktail world, is that they always turn out just right if you follow the recipe. So if you can't drop in to Bemelmans, mix one up and see what you think.

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Thanks for the link, Sam. I was just trying to describe this drink to someone, and couldn't remember the exact ingredients. I was thinking it had Calvados, not Pear Eau de Vie.

It was a deliciously complex cocktail -- one of those that, if I hadn't known what was in it, I'd never have guessed. And like many of Audrey's cocktails, it's a combination of ingredients that seems unusual at first glance, but that actually goes together beautifully.

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You guys make me extremly jealous. Being able to drop in and share such wonderful cocktails with Audrey anytime you want to... :-<

Well... not exactly every time I want to. Luckily for her (and for my liver, no doubt) I can't get over there nearly as often as I'd like -- otherwise she'd never be able to get rid of me. Probably have to take out a restraining order, etc. And really... cocktail stalking is so uncouth. :smile:

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You guys make me extremly jealous. Being able to drop in and share such wonderful cocktails with Audrey anytime you want to... :-<

Any chance we'll see this on your PDA version? I'd love to have it at hand when I go out (I have no idea where to get the pear eau de vie or honey syrup) but it sure sounds fabulous! :biggrin:

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You'd be surprised at how easy the ingredients are to find. Pear eau de vie (aka pear brandy and poire william) can be found in most decent liquor stores, as can riesling wine and orange curaçao. The only one that might be difficult to get your hands on is Peychaud's bitters. But even that can be had via the internet (and should be a part of any cocktail enthusiast's pantry anyway). Honey syrup is simply honey mixed 1:1 with water. You can make it at home.

Click the link over to NY Metro for the full recipe, BTW. Although she has been very generous with recipes in the past, I didn't want to post the recipe without Audrey's permission.

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You'd be surprised at how easy the ingredients are to find.  Pear eau de vie (aka pear brandy and poire william) can be found in most decent liquor stores, as can riesling wine and orange curaçao.  The only one that might be difficult to get your hands on is Peychaud's bitters.  But even that can be had via the internet (and should be a part of any cocktail enthusiast's pantry anyway).  Honey syrup is simply honey mixed 1:1 with water.  You can make it at home.

Click the link over to NY Metro for the full recipe, BTW.  Although she has been very generous with recipes in the past, I didn't want to post the recipe without Audrey's permission.

Thank you so much! You are so kind with your time and help! I can't wait to make a few of these this weekend. I will look for the ingredients tomorrow! You are also very thoughtful, Sam :smile:

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I'll add my thumbs-way-up for the Autumn Leaves. I had the pleasure of savoring one a couple weeks back (unfortunately on Audrey's night off), and really enjoyed the melding of flavors. The sort of cocktail where the components are similar but each highlights a different flavor profile. Very subtle, very contemplative.

Put me in mind of a drink from 11 Madison from a few years back that I've kept in rotation in my home bar -- Parkhurst's Pear -- which also included Poire Williams, but rather than Riesling had as its base a vanilla/pear/peppercorn infused vodka (and to which I'd coincidentally since revised to add star anise as well).

Christopher

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The only one that might be difficult to get your hands on is Peychaud's bitters.  But even that can be had via the internet (and should be a part of any cocktail enthusiast's pantry anyway).

I'm not a cocktail enthusiast (yet?) so it isn't in my pantry. I have totally struck out finding Peychaud's bitters here in Boston. Checked everywhere from warehouse-sized places to smaller places that seem more geared to cocktails and liquor. Nothing.

I have read that there is no substitute for the flavor of Peychaud's but I am wondering if there is an acceptable alternative. For example, Angostura with a wee bit more honey syrup to increase the sweetness? Is Angostura just too far away from Peychaud's to give it a whirl.

Perhaps I'll just wing it on Thursday and see how it goes.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Steven, unfortunately there is no substitute for Peychaud's. That said, I bet the drink would work with Angostura. It won't taste exactly the same, but will probably still be very good.

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Thanks Sam. I have the benefit of not serving it to people who have had the original so they will not be drawing comparisons.

Now the bigger question is why there isn't a liquor store in Boston carries Peychaud's. It is especially frustrating because MA is one of the states where you cannot direct ship from an out-of-state merchant to a consumer, all sales must go through some in-state-licensed seller. Thankfully I will be in New Orleans in February and I can grab a bottle.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Bitters may be one of those things that is exempt from most liquor distribution laws. This is because, although it does contain alcohol, it must (by law, I think) be so bitter that it is not potable on its own. AFAIK, underage kids can buy Angostura bitters in a grocery store because it is not considered an "alcoholic beverage."

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AFAIK, underage kids can buy Angostura bitters in a grocery store because it is not considered an "alcoholic beverage."

That's the case here in Washington; you can buy Angostura in the supermarket (despite the absence of other 'hard' liquor) even though it's plainly marked 45% alc. Although we did have to hunt pretty hard for the Peychaud's, at least our crummy state liquor board has a product-lookup function on its website.

As for substitutes, I'd perhaps try the merest hint of Ouzo or Sambuca to get the liquorice flavor.

~Anita

ps: After having (a few!) Falling Leaves at a fellow eGer's house a few weeks back, and we liked them so much we served them to our more-adventurous Turkey Day guests... they went over quite well.

Edited by ScorchedPalate (log)

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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Bitters ... must (by law, I think) be so bitter that it is not potable on its own.

That sort of depends on what exactly you mean by "by law".

There is nothing wrong with making bitters "potable". For the most part, Jagermeister and Fernet Branca are examples of products that can easily play the roll of "cocktail bitters", but are for the most part potable (although some might argue with that point).

The "law" issue comes into play when you look at what the cost and distribution options of these products are. A "potable" alcoholic product is in a wildly different tax bracket then a non-potable one. So Angostura could change the formulation of their product such that it was deemed "potable", still sell it in the same bottles, for the same purpose, but not only would it now have to be sold in the state liquor stores here in Washington, but it would also cost more.

This was the little speed-bump that Gary Regan ran into with getting his new bitters to market. The FDC determined that it was potable, and while this wouldn't have prevented the sale, it would have made it cost and distribution prohibitive, so they have reformulated it, and it will be on the market very soon now.

-Robert

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Good points, Robert. I should have mentioned the difference between "potable bitters" and "nonpotable bitters." My comments were, of course, directed towards the latter -- which is to say, the kind of bitters one uses in drops and dashes as a flavoring.

Interesting to hear that "potability" was keeping Gary's bitters off the market, and very glad to hear that it will be on the market soon. I predict a rash of cocktails designed around orange bitters upon its release.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was at Union restaurant in Seattle last night and they had this on their drink menu. It didn't mention the Reisling though?? The bartender mentioned something about DrinkBoy's website.

I didn't get to taste it as we were drinking Duetz. sounds very good though!

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I was at Union restaurant in Seattle last night and they had this on their drink menu. It didn't mention the Reisling though?? The bartender mentioned something about DrinkBoy's website.

:laugh: Funny. The thread on Drinkboy's (very good) forums references this very thread for info on the Falling Leaves Cocktail.

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Are there two different drinks - one called Falling Leaves with Pear Brandy and reisling and Fallen Leaves with Calvados and vermouths? The recipe on Drink Boys website is different from the one posted here, then I noticed the names were slightly different......

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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