Last night one of my favorite regulars had a whiskey and Chamberyzette cocktail and asked for a variation of the theme. The meal and the evening were moving along so I thought he could tolerate something a little sweeter, possibly bitter, and I could up the anti on the exotic. My other favorite regular had given me a bottle of his favorite wine maker, Guy Davis’ APPLE-ATION, apple brandy. I’ve had a lot of apple brandies but nothing like appleation ever. It has some kind of unnatural apple potency and an unreal aromatic intensity so the cocktail was as follows:
1.5 oz. apple brandy (apple-ation, end of the bottle)
1 oz. chamberyzette (replica)
1 oz. cynar
2 dashes peychaud’s bitter
stir. I didn’t garnish because it was already so aromatic.
The aromas of the 80 proof plus spirit dominated the other components in the most beautiful way. The strawberry vermouth sounds its own notes and the Cynar provides a very elegant and mysterious bitter finish. The artichoke liqueur adds just the right amount of darkness for an otherwise bright “fruity” cocktail. In regards to the brandy, the Dutton Range orchard apparently has unique aromatic properties and Davis has figured out how to tap them. His website claims he even strays from well followed conventions in his production technique. Others merely press the juice of the apples, ferment then distill, but Davis borrows techniques from red wine production. He simply slices the fruit and ferments it with all the solids, and even puts the solids into the still increasing intensity [it turns out this risks elevating methanol above permissible levels].
I really wanted to revisit the drink and make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Anything tastes interesting when you are in the middle of your dinner rush. I constructed my version with 2 oz. of Clear Creek’s eight year old apple brandy, which is lovely. Clear Creek’s spirit is less pungent but makes up for it with complexity. I found the sweetness of the cocktail so elegant and within the average of anyone tastes at any point of the day. The meeting of strawberry and artichoke is beautiful and very Americana. Flavors crossing seemingly randomly, but synergisticly like most very American conventions. Wine can be interesting but it can’t be as eccentric or exciting as this.
If you are too lazy to construct a Chamberyzette replica, I’ve heard a rumor that the vermouth maker Dolin is going to start wider distribution in the U.S. including their Chamberyzette.