As we drink our way through the seasons (and yes, that sounds both good and bad) we find some cocktail ingredients are easier to work with than others. Citrus is easy, lots of great recipes and combinations. Stone fruits are harder to handle, but are very tasty in all sorts of drinks. Apples? No problem. But now we get to pears, and it gets a bit challenging.
Pears are one of our most ancient fruits and are popular all over the world, but oddly, are not a common cocktail ingredient. Pears have a soft, sweet flavor and light fragrance that can get lost when mixed with other flavors. And pear brandy (eau-de-vie), while common in France, is a rarity here in the states. More recently new pear liqueurs and vodkas hit the market. And since it is pear season (and we have a few pear trees and a decent crop) we got some Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear liqueur and started to experiment.
As we noted, there are few “classic” pear cocktails to work from, so we approached this more like a dessert recipe. Firstly, we tasted the pear liqueur and it was sweet with clear pear flavor and a slightly dry finish. A good sip, but more of an attractive flavor accent than a lead note. So what else plays well with pears? Apple and spice came to mind. And we also like sparkling cocktails, as they often show off the aromas of their ingredients (and we had some sparkling wine left over from making Death in the Afternoon cocktails). With that in mind we did some research and found a cocktail called the Daisy Buchanon that combines pear liqueur, apple brandy and Champagne. We then looked to another of our favorite sparklers, the bitters-heavy, spicy Seelbach, for inspiration. And after many experiments, we got the Rochelle-Normande.
The Rochelle-Normande combines pear liqueur, applejack (or calvados), lemon juice, Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters (substitute Angostura) and champagne. We garnish with a slice of pear and lemon twist. The sip is crisp and dry with both apple and pear flavors and aromas showing through. The lemon juice adds some acidity and the finish shows off the allspice, cinnamon and clove notes of the tiki bitters. A tasty, if somewhat dry, seasonal cocktail for the holidays. (And we like the look of the pear slice in the champagne flute.)
You might note a lack of overtly sweet ingredients in this cocktail, and we did experiment both with Domaine de Canton to add sweetness and ginger notes and muddled pears. But muddled pears get gritty and the Canton did not play as well with the pears as we expected. In the end, we like the aroma and dry notes from both the pear liqueur and apple brandy and decided to highlight them. And the name? La Rochelle-Normand is an area in Normandy known for growing apples and pears. So while making this cocktail was challenging, finding the name was easy.
- 3/4 oz. applejack or Calvados
- 3/4 oz. pear liqueur (Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear)
- 1/3 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 3 dashes Bitterman’s Elemakule Tiki Bitters (or Angostura bitters)
- 4 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine
- Pear wedge, for garnish (optional, but nice)
- Lemon twist, for garnish
- Combine the applejack, pear liqueur, lemon juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled flute. Top with the Champagne and then add the pear wedge and lemon twist. Serve.
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