Belle Normandie

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And, the last drink from the spirited dinner at Feast, the Belle Normandie is a fine drink that is reminiscent of a Marconi cocktail.

The Belle Normandie, or “beautiful Normandy” cocktail is another one of Jackson’s creations.  Featuring Calvados, which is an appellation d’origine contrôlée liqueur from France, specially the southern Normandy region known as Basse-Normandie, the drink is befitting of its’ name.  With strong apple flavors, the cocktail has a bit of anise and other herbal flavors on the account of the house made rose vermouth that Jackson uses, as well as the small amount of pastis to rinse the glass.

Since the cocktail is one that uses Calvados and rose vermouth, it appears quite a bit similar to the Marconi cocktail, a drink that uses a two to one ratio of Calvados to vermouth, similar to a more classic Martini (save the orange bitters).  However, the Marconi is a strange beast, and is quite likely an offshoot of the Star Cocktail, a classic vermouth drink, along the same lines of the Rob Roy, Manhattan and Martini, drawing out the use of equal proportions of apple brandy and sweet vermouth, with the addition of Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters (and in some cases a dash or two of gomme syrup).  The Belle Normandie is replacing the sweet vermouth with a lighter rose version, and replacing the bitters with pastis, as well as the apple brandy with Calvados, which in many respects is producing a French version of the Star.

Rose vermouth is a style of vermouth similar to vermouth rouge, but is lighter in terms of the sweetness as well as the body. In many cases, rose vermouth has a lot more citrus notes, such as orange, and flavors such as vanilla are easier to pull out because there are less of the bitter flavors that are found oftentimes in vermouth. It is a style of vermouth that is not often found in cocktails, nor is it popular in the United States (much like rose wine): yet, rose vermouth does have a following in both Italy and France, the two historical vermouth producing countries after which red and white, sweet and dry styles are respectively referred.

Jackson’s own Eastern Standard rose vermouth is fantastic, and does very well to capture the nuances that are characteristic of this different style. The vermouth does have a bit of the bitter component characteristic of sweeter vermouth, but also conveys it well when juxtaposed and balanced against citrus driven notes and other flavors. Honestly, I have a desire to fly to Boston just to get some more of the stuff. Since it is a rare breed, if you want to make this cocktail yourself, you could perhaps use a smaller proportion of sweet vermouth touched up with a dash or two of gomme syrup, but your best bet would be to execute the drink with Cinzano rose vermouth, which while not fantastic, is generally widely available.

For mixing the drink, it would probably be better to rinse the glass with the pastis, in order to assure the minimal amount, but adding it into the mixture prior to chilling works just as well.  The trend to rinse cocktail glasses with vermouth,  something which is quite popular among crowds who do not like vermouth, has one thing going for it: control over the direct proportion of the ingredient with respect to the size of the glass and volume of the overall drink.  The surface area of the cocktail glass chosen for a specific cocktail limits the amount that can be present, and in many cases, that works nicely in keeping a specific proportion to the volume of the drink (think about the shape of cocktail glasses).  This is the same principle behind spraying a glass with bitters, or measuring out specific amounts of droplets of bitters rather than using arbitrary dashes.  Control over the volume of ingredients allows for control over a cocktails’ taste.

Belle Normandie:

1 1/2 ounces Calvados
1 1/2 ounces Rose Vermouth
Bell ringer of Granier mon pastis

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with an orange twist.