By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer
Greetings all! This week I'm creating a drink with the Duche de Longueville! What is Duche de Longueville? This is a gorgeous creature, made with tiny French apples, impossibly tart and inedible when freshly picked off the tree but when pressed and fermented, they become otherworldly in their depth of flavor. Think of this product as Apple Champagne… although by the means of their provenance they could never call this liquid Champagne or a sparkling wine. Duche de Longueville makes cheap sparkling wine taste just that - cheap! I suppose the best direction is to say that cheap sparkling wine couldn't hold a candle to the quality in every (inexpensive) sip of the Duche.
Sparkling apple cider goes famously with grilled sausages, oysters, lobster BLT's and even a ham and cheese sandwich on French bread with butter and fleur de sel. There are scarcely any foods that don't go well with traditionally crafted, sparkling apple cider. But this is not your typical domestic, sparkling apple cider. The simple reason that these apples are from France makes this product unique in all ways. There is a flavor of the place and that says the French countryside. The soil is uniquely geared to the propagation of apples. Calvados, the fire-driven apple brandy, comes from France so it stands to reason that the French would know a thing or two about apples. Since Champagne also comes from France, it's not too far of a stretch to imagine that the inspiration of fizzy, celebratory wines could translate to sparkling apple cider. What they do in France with fermented apples transcends mere flavors. The flavors of toast to butter to acidic apples becomes a language all its own. This is a dialogue towards eating and drinking better, because a 10 dollar bottle of artisan-made French sparkling apple cider is still worlds better than a 10 dollar bottle of industrially produced sparkling wine, at least in my opinion.
I've combined this intellectual sparkling apple cider with Junmai Sake from Hiro in Japan. You don't need to over intellectualize a thousand or so years of Sake brewing history to know that the Japanese take high end Sake very seriously. Hiro is a relatively new product to our shores and it speaks clearly of the commitment to brewing the highest quality Sake.
I love combining Hiro Sake with a couple ounces of the Duche because together East truly meets West in the cocktail glass. The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters bring this drink together. Then in a tip of the hat to my cocktail whisperer desires I've taken some stone fruits - peaches and plums - and sliced them by half. I heated a cast iron pan to smoking hot then seared the stone fruits until they were nicely charred, let them cool and muddle them with the liquors. Deliciousness!
In my imaginary visit to Japan, I envision myself faced with a food-driven dilemma. Do I eat vast platters of sashimi with this cocktail combination or shall I venture into the unknown with grilled or broiled fish? Well my decision would be tempered by the fact that I find cooked fish less palatable than raw, but cooked eel is right up my alley. So, I'd do a combination of cooked to raw fish with a cocktail like the one that follows.
The Duche Cider is quite dry so a splash of simple syrup will bring the drink forward and then deeply into your memory.
Duche de Longueville Fizz
Ingredients for two tall drinks:
• 4 oz. Duche de Longueville "Antoinette" Dry Sparkling Cider
• 2 oz. Hiro Junmai Sake
• 1 oz. Simple Syrup
• ½ peach & ½ plum or other stone fruits (charred and muddled)
• Several shakes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
• 1 piece of lemongrass
• Splash of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (optional)
1. Into a Boston Shaker combine the charred stone fruits and the Hiro Sake and simple syrup.
2. Muddle together to release the aromatics and the juices of the fruits then add the bitters.
3. Fill Boston Shaker ¾ with ice and shake for 15 seconds or so.
4. Add the Duche de Longueville over the top. (If you desire a bit more fizz, may I suggest the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water instead of more cider. It will make the cocktail a bit lighter too… )
5. Serve in a tall Collins glass and garnish with a slice of charred fruit and a spear of lemongrass and sip slowly on a hot day!
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.