That holds for my relationship with the top trio of French brandies: calvados, the apple brandy from Normandy, cognac, made from doubly distilling white wine in Charente and Charente-Maritime, and armagnac, made from the singly distilling white wine in Gascony. Call me old-fashion, but I still appreciate brandy an occasional digestif after a lengthy meal and as a nightcap. Among the trio of brandies mentioned above, cognac and armagnac, as grape-based spirits, carry more prestige than apple-based calvados, yet calvados is the one I most frequently encounter on my travels for the simple reason that I visit Normandy from Paris more often than I visit Charente or Gascony. One of those visits to Normandy was to the Calvados Nouvelle Vogue International Trophies , an annual bartending competition to create the best calvados-based cocktails. The competition is held in a different location in Normandy each year in spring, for example the pretty port town of Granville in and the city of Caen in That for the photo op.
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That holds for my relationship with the top trio of French brandies: calvados, the apple brandy from Normandy, cognac, made from doubly distilling white wine in Charente and Charente-Maritime, and armagnac, made from the singly distilling white wine in Gascony. Call me old-fashion, but I still appreciate brandy an occasional digestif after a lengthy meal and as a nightcap.
Among the trio of brandies mentioned above, cognac and armagnac, as grape-based spirits, carry more prestige than apple-based calvados, yet calvados is the one I most frequently encounter on my travels for the simple reason that I visit Normandy from Paris more often than I visit Charente or Gascony. One of those visits to Normandy was to the Calvados Nouvelle Vogue International Trophies , an annual bartending competition to create the best calvados-based cocktails. The competition is held in a different location in Normandy each year in spring, for example the pretty port town of Granville in and the city of Caen in That for the photo op.
Marc Jean, head bartender at Le Normandy, Deauville. But it was behind the bar that he would make a home for himself. Hired as third barman at the Normandy in , he rose to head barman in One of the original participants in the Calvados Nouvelle Vogue competition, he is now one of its organizers as well as president of the Association des Barmen de Normandie. As a Norman born and bred, calvados naturally hold place of honor on his liquor shelves.
He has created numerous calvados cocktails. Four of his recipes can be found below. Before turning to mixology, however, a brief history of the brandy called calvados. A Brief History of Calvados Normandy has been prime territory for fermented apple juice, i. The first record of the fermented juice being distilled to make brandy eau-de-vie in French dates to Though produced for centuries, the spirit became largely associated with the Normandy department or sub-region named Calvados in the 19th century.
In it gained status as a legally recognized appellation, meaning only apple brandy produced within a specifically delimited zone could be called calvados. Wartime——may seem an odd time to be seeking official appellation status, particularly as the Germans were increasingly building up defenses along the coast in order to repel an eventual Allied invasion. But the war was in fact a major reason for producers to seek regulation of the term calvados for their brandy: during the German Occupation, the only copper stills that were not requisitioned by Germany for military purposes were those used for appellation products.
Calvados, affectionately known as calva, is largely produced in the Normandy departments of Calvados and Manche which represent the major of the zone in which the Battle of Normandy took place. There are also designated production zones just over the border in Mayenne and Sarthe and in the area around the town of Neufchatel, further west in Normandy. Photo GLK. Calvados Cocktails For much of its history calvados has been imbibed in its pure state.
It has also found its way into the kitchen. And increasingly over the past 20 years it has been used in cocktails. Or 22 years to be precise since a major influence in the spread of the gospel of the calvados cocktail has been the Calvados Nouvelle Vogue competition, which was launched in Originally a regional bartending competition, Calvados Nouvelle Vogue International Trophies, as it came to be called, now includes bartenders from 15 countries, mostly European, themselves winners of national competitions which draw competitors.
Competitors are judged on creativity, dexterity and the story they tell about the inspiration for their cocktail, along with its taste and presentation. A theme is given each year—this year, vegetables. A competition among student bartenders and another among journalists are also held.
Local tourist offices can provide a list of those that receive visitors. During my own travels in the region, I enjoy the encounter as much as anything. Quality of the calva is often the secondary pleasure but nothing beats meeting a quality producer with a good story to tell. More than half of calvados production is exported, with the U. Calvados is aged in oak vats for a minimum of two years three years for calvados domfrontais. Long-aged calvados of six years or more may be more difficult to find in ordinary liquor stores at home.
Anyway, a young calvados of two or three years of oak aging is more appropriate for most cocktails since they provide the fruity aromas that are often sought. For information about cocktail-bar tours and encounters with mixologists in Paris see here. France Revisited reminds readers to drink responsibly and with moderation.
In the Spirit of Normandy: Calvados Cocktails
The first known Norman distillation was carried out by "Lord" de Gouberville in , and the guild for cider distillation was created about 50 years later in In the 17th century the traditional ciderfarms expanded but taxation and prohibition of cider brandies were enforced elsewhere than Brittany , Maine and Normandy. The area called "Calvados" was created after the French Revolution, but "eau de vie de cidre" was already called "calvados" in common usage. When a phylloxera outbreak in the last quarter of the 19th century devastated the vineyards of France and Europe, calvados experienced a "golden age".
In fact[ citation needed ], a growing belief[ by whom? A minimum of two years aging in oak barrels is required. The terroir, geographical area, is defined. The apples and pears are defined cider varieties. The procedures in production, such as pressing , fermentation , distillation, and ageing, is regulated.
Calvados Experience An unforgettable visit Lasting one hour and fifteen minutes, the tour is sure to get your five senses awakened. It begins with an introduction to this world-famous apple brandy, then continues with the story of the region and an immersive tour of a typical pre-war Norman village, complete with a farm and market place. Visitors will learn all about the life of the apple tree in the orchard room, discover the secrets of Calvados production in the apple-press and fermentation room, and will find out more about the art of distillation and the traditional know-how of ageing and blending. The visit concludes in the tasting bar, where an expert will guide visitors through the three steps of the art of tasting: the eye, the nose and the palate.
Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy
Culture[ edit ] The Bayeux Tapestry is on display in Bayeux and makes the city one of the most-visited tourist destinations in Normandy. The local dialect of the Norman language is known as Augeron. It is spoken by a minority of the population. Tourism[ edit ] Calvados is one of the most visited areas in France because of its seaside resorts which are among the most prestigious in France with their luxurious hotels, casinos, green countryside, manors, castles, the quiet, the chalk cliffs, the typical Norman houses, the history of William the Conqueror, Caen, Bayeux, Lisieux, the famous D-day beaches and numerous museums about the Second World War. One of the advantage of Calvados is to be fairly near large urban centers Paris, Ile de France. Calvados is therefore often preferred for holidays and for weekends and sometimes considered as the countryside of Paris. Calvados, via the port of Ouistreham , is an entrance to the continent from Britain.