Sunday, July 15, 2012

Classic Cocktails: The Widow's Kiss

This cocktail comes from Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. It was invented by George Kappeler and first published in his Modern American Drinks in 1895. A drink from another era, it showcases the formidable power of the herbal liqueurs that fell out of favor during Prohibition and the advent of shelf-stable fruit liqueurs.

The Widow's Kiss
1.5 oz apple brandy
0.75 oz Chartreuse
0.75 oz Bénédictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients, stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

The nose contains elements from the apple brandy, Chartreuse and Bénédictine twining about each other without crowding for attention. Sweet and fruity but also gently herbal. The sip comes in reverse order from what I expected, with the bitter notes from the herbal liqueurs coming in first, fading into the clove and allspice of the Angostura, which finally leads to the liqueur's strong sweetness. The finish is still sweet, with lingering herbal and spice notes. Through everything, the apple brandy rides in the background, supporting the more potent herbal liqueurs.

As a note, the recipe calls for the more heady 110-proof Green Chartreuse, but you can sub in the more restrained 80-proof Yellow Chartreuse. Under the circumstances, that's not a bad plan. With Yellow Chartreuse, the final drink will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-proof.

This cocktail is aptly named. Strong, sweet and mysterious. You don't want to trifle with this one, as it's all spirits with nothing but ice to moderate its strength. Approach carefully, but don't try too hard to resist its charms.

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