Cocktails with… Pomme Pom – Adnams Aged Apple Spirit

This week (26th October – 1st November) is National Calvados Week, but it also marks the launch of Adnams Pomme Pom, an oak-aged apple spirit, or – to put it another way – an apple brandy. Whilst I am a big fan of Calvados (and North American Applejack, too, for that matter), I thought that for this Calvados Week I would look across from Normandy to the other side of the channel to explore this English apple brandy*.

PommePom Bottle

Pomme Pom is made at the Adnams Copperhouse Distillery in Southwold, Suffolk. The distillery takes cider from nearby Hogan’s Cider Farm and distills it in their copper pot stills. It is then aged for at least three years in oak casks.

On its own
Nose: Dried apples with rich notes of wood and warm spice, as well as a hint of caramel and vanilla.
Taste: A smooth mouthfeel upfront, with a warmth that gently builds over time. Rich, woody oak, spice and vanilla notes are followed by fruity notes of apple on the finish. The intensity of the apple notes grows as you sip and lingers for a long time on the palate.

From the fridge
A light chill brings out some of the fruity notes of the spirit, but it still keeps its war mth. The finish is of baked apple, with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

From the freezer
Fragrant, juicy apple on the nose. Served from the freezer, the texture is more viscous and the fragrant apple flavour is fuller. There is a touch of tart cider apple flesh to start, then warm, spiced woody notes, followed by a delightful finish of fresh apple and apple blossom – superb!

From a hipflask
Calvados is one of my favourite spirits to enjoy from a hipflask: it is warming, yet fruity, and Pomme Pom ticks the same boxes. As it is gently warmed by being in a jacket pocket, the spirit becomes more mellow and rounded – perfect for a little nip when going on a long walk, especially now that the days are a tad cooler.

Toddy
[25ml Pomme Pom, 10ml Sugar Syrup, 15ml Lemon Juice, 100ml Boiling Water]
Superb, absolutely superb! So warming and comforting; an excellent drink to enjoy outside whilst watching fireworks or to warm up inside after a crisp, autumnal walk. To add an extra bonfire-esque element, replace the sugar with a piece of cinder toffee and allow it to dissolve as you sip.

PommePomToddy

With apple juice
[25ml Pomme Pom, 75ml Apple Juice]
Rich and creamy, with a slight note of custard coming through alongside the spice and creamy vanilla. There is then a warm, woody element, before a crisp, refreshing finish. This is a really simple, but nonetheless delicious drink with lots of depth and character. Best enjoyed with an apple juice that does not come from concentrate.

With soda
[25ml Pomme Pom, 100ml Soda Water]
This is a light and refreshing drink with subtle flavours of apple and wood coming through from the Pomme Pom, as well as touch of creamy spice and vanilla. A pleasant drink for an autumnal afternoon or as an early evening refresher on a hot summer’s day. Best garnished with a spritz of lemon peel oil.

Father & Son
[50ml Pomme Pom, 100ml Still Cider – Shake with Ice]
A simple, but exceptionally cooling and refreshing cocktail. The cider adds a little extra tartness and the Pomme Pom adds a fortifying element, as well as more complex notes of wood and spice. Delicious and very satisfying.

In Conclusion
As I have mentioned in the past, I am a big fan of cider and so apple brandy is a favourite, too. I think that it’s great that, as more distilleries open up in the UK, more are looking at making apple spirit. After all, we make great cider in the UK, so why don’t we make great apple/cider brandy, too?

Pomme Pom is a versatile spirit that works well in both warming and cooling cocktails and, whilst apples undoubtedly have more of an autumnal/winter vibe, I’d happily enjoy it all year round. My favourite drinks were spirit served straight from the freezer, straight from a hipflask, and the Father & Son.
* This used to also be known as cider brandy, but as “Somerset Cider Brandy” (including “Cider Brandy”) now has a European Geographical Indication Protection, the term cannot be used so broadly.

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National Calvados Week – Cocktails with… Pere Magloire VSOP

This week is National Calvados Week and, to my mind, it is perfect timing. This aged apple brandy from Normandy is one of my favourite Autumnal drinks; still fruity, but warming as the nights start to draw in.

www.nationalcalvadosweek.com

For our part, we shall be writing a little introduction to Calvados and having a closer look at Pere Magloire VSOP.

PereMagloire VSOP Calvados

What is Calvados?

Calvados is a brandy, but instead of being made from fermented and distilled grapes (as many other French brandies are), it is made from apples; in essence, it is the result of distilling cider. The region where Calvados is made in Normandy, Northern France is also known for the quality of their cider, so it makes sense that distilled products based on this are of such a high quality.

Calvados has an appellation contrôlée, which means that it can only be made in a certain area of France and strict rules govern its production. For example, all Calvados must be aged for a minimum of 2 years in oak casks.

Pere Magloire is a Calvados Pays D’Auge, which means that is subject to even more regulation than regular Calvados; it has to be made in the Eastern part of the Calvados region. Pere Magloire is made in the village of Pont l’Eveque. In addition to the rules defining Calvados AOC, Calvados Pays D’Auge must be made from cider that has fermented for at least 6 weeks and must also be distilled twice (double distillation). In the theory of distilling, the longer fermentation (consuming more sugars) and the double distillation should lead to a cleaner, dryer, smoother, and higher quality spirit.

So what does it taste like?

On its own

Nose: Fantastic – very engaging and enticing; rich apples with just a hint of acidity, reminding me of refreshing, still cider. Also, hints of spice and vanilla.

Taste: A well-rounded spirit and one that leads on well from the nose. Dry, crisp apple with a little sweetness in the middle, along with hints of toffee, caramel, cinnamon and nutmeg, which provide an impression of spiced baked apple. It has a warming finish, but no burn; as you continue to sip, a pleasant, cosy warmth builds in the chest. Just what you need on a cold, rainy day.

PereMagloire VSOP Calvados collins

Calvados Collins

25ml Calvados, 25ml Lemon Juice, 25ml Sugar Syrup, 150ml Soda Water. Add the ingredients to a hi-ball glass with ice.

Tart and refreshing, with the lemon juice bringing out the dryer, crisper notes of the Calvados and the sugar adding some balance. This would make a pretty lovely dinner drink or something to enjoy in the afternoon, catching the last sunny hours before winter. For an extra touch of indulgence, replace the sugar syrup with honey.

Calvados & Ginger Ale

50ml Calvados, 150ml Dry Ginger Ale, Ice. Add the ingredients to a hi-ball glass with ice (lemon wedge optional).

An inviting nose of apple and ginger, that is also quite fresh. In terms of taste, the drink is light and refreshing, with some sweetness; if you prefer a slightly dryer or tarter drink, a quick squeeze of a lemon wedge should do the trick.

PereMagloire VSOP Calvados Manhattan

Calvados Manhattan

50ml Calvados, 25ml Red Vermouth – stir & serve in a cocktail glass.

A wonderfully complex cocktail, equal to many of the whiskey-based varieties. It has a lovely, red-gold colour and an initial flavour of the fruity, slightly tart apples that is followed by rich herbal notes and a little sweetness. The warming nature of the Calvados presents itself on the finish, as well as a note of dry apple.

PereMagloire VSOP Calvados OldFashioned

Calvados Old Fashioned

Take a tumbler/old fashioned glass, add a sugar cube, bitters and a little water, and muddle the cube until the sugar has dissolved. Add 50ml Calvados. Stir gently with ice and strain into another pre-chilled Old Fashioned Glass.

A thick and viscous drink, with the bitters bringing out some of the more delicate, sweet spiced notes of the Calvados. A drink well-suited for after dinner, as an alternative to savouring a brandy balloon of the spirit; there’s a liveliness to the flavours, which will keep you engaged for the evening ahead of you.

In Conclusion

I really enjoyed experimenting with Pere Magloire VSOP Calvados and found that it worked equally well on its own and in mixed drinks; it has the character to be mixed, but the smoothness and complexity to be savoured on its own. Of all of the cocktails that I tried, I’d say my favourite was the Calvados Manhattan, but, personally, give me a glass of the spirit on its own and I’ll be more than happy.

Pere Magloire VSOP Calvados is available for £25.86 for 70cl from The Drink Shop this is a special price for National Calvados Week.

 

Halloween Cocktails with Niederegger Marzipan

A few weeks ago, I received an interesting e-mail from Niederegger Marzipan, advertising a game for Halloween (see below). I thought I’d take the opportunity to match some of the chocolate-covered marzipan from their Klassiker Range, which mixes liquors and marzipan, with some cocktails. I wanted to create a cocktail to complement each of the four flavours, whilst also giving the cocktails a somewhat autumnal twist; and no, there will be no Amaretto – that is just too easy.

Niederegger confectioners have been making tasty treats since 1806 in the German city of Lübeck. Today, they make a wide range of fine treats, including a host of different marzipans and nougats.

The Cocktails

#1) Normandy ‘75 with Calvados, accompanied by Calvados & Apple Marzipan
[1 sugar lump, 3–4 drops of orange bitters, 20ml of calvados, Champagne – Serve in a Champagne Flute]
Quite dry, given the Calvados and Champagne, with the red vermouth adding some herbal notes and, along with the sugar cube, some sweetness for balance. The fresh, fruity and sweet apple of the chocolate complements the dryer cocktail. Additionally, the marzipan’s smooth texture contrasts pleasantly with the intense bubbles of the Champagne.

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#2) Port & Starboard with Vodka and Port, accompanied by Vodka & Fig Marzipan.
[20ml Vodka, 20ml Port, 10ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup (1tsp sugar) –  SHAKE]
A relatively tart drink with some deep, fruity, jammy notes from the port. If it’s a bit too tart, try adding a little sugar and stir. The marzipan has a lot more texture than the previous one, being almost crunchy, and is rich and sweet, going well with the tart dryness of the cocktail, which reminds me almost of a rich, dry sherry. Whilst these two might be too bitter/sweet on their own, together, they harmonise.

#3) Smoky Rob Roy, with Bowmore Mariner Scotch Whisky, accompanied by Mirabelle Brandy Marzipan.
[30ml Bowmore Mariner (or other Scotch), 20ml Red Vermouth – SHAKE]
The marzipan is light and more coconutty in texture, with a hint of orange coming through, too. In contrast, the cocktail is stronger in flavour, being very smoky and deliciously refreshing. The orange twist ensures that this pairing go together remarkably well. Although you wouldn’t necessarily think that smoky whisky would go well with marzipan, it really does – this is excellent and easily Mrs. B’s favourite.

#4) Rum Alexander with Spiced Rum, accompanied by Rum & Croquant Marzipan
[20ml Rum, 20ml Semi-skimmed Milk, 20ml Creme de Cacao – SHAKE]
This marzipan tastes richer and weightier than the previous ones, with its sweetness and rum notes coming through strongly. As such, the lighter cocktail is a very good accompaniment, tasting something akin to an adult’s version of chocolate milk. Coincidentally, the use of milk is much preferable to cream in this pairing, as the latter would create a far too heavy, sickly cocktail. As it is, the cocktail carries a lovely hint of rum that continues well into the finish, accompanied by lots of almond.

In Conclusion
This box of marzipan covers a whole range of interesting flavours, meaning that everyone – who likes marzipan! – should find a favourite in here; fortunately for us, we were evenly split, with Mrs. B. preferring the Vodka & Fig Chocolate and Smoky Rob Roy, and my favourites being the Apple & Calvados Chocolate and the Normandy ‘75.

In addition to being delicious on their own, I was impressed at how well they went with cocktails, each of which highlighted the flavours and textures of the sweets and often meant that the flavours lasted for longer. The sweetness of the marzipan also meant that we could experiment with stronger flavours (e.g. bitter or tart) that, when sampled on their own, were less palatable.

All in all, this was a tasty and entertaining experiment and I look forward to enjoying the rest of our box of marzipan in the game below…

The Halloween Game

Niederegger Roulette

This is:

“based on the lethal game of Russian roulette but with the additional fun elements of Harry Potter’s Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans but more sophisticated.”

You will need:

  • An assortment of different flavoured Niederegger marzipan treats that are either all the same style; e.g. mini loaves, sticks, or that have been cut into pieces that all look and feel similar;
  • A blindfold; and
  • Some willing participants.

How To Play

  1. Teams are formed and, each round, one player from each team dons the blindfold and chooses, at random, a piece of Niederegger.
  1. They must then write down what flavour they think they tasted on the team’s cards.
  1. This process is repeated through all the flavours that are available, ensuring that each team member has a go.

“With the options to choose between the innumerable concoction of different fruity flavours, orange, pineapple, strawberry, lemon; dark, milk and white chocolate toppings; more savoury fillings include pistachio and walnut filled; espresso, ginger, cream praline nougat as well as the liquor flavoured pieces such as Apple & Calvados, Mirabelle Brandy, Rum & Croquant, Vodka & Fig. Once everyone has been through all of the rounds then the host can reveal which sweets were which.”

“Try something fun and delicious this Halloween with Niederegger Roulette.”

A selection Niederegger Marzipan is available from Amazon, John Lewis, and Lakeland as well as many other shops.