Pear brandy from a Michigan winery highlights this modern classic cocktail
December is National Pear Month. Yeah, I didn’t know that either.
Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings was inspired to make a mixed drink by finding she’d bought one of those perfect pears that ripens properly and deliciously.
“Once you have wine, then you can make brandy. And if you make your wine out of fruit, then you can make fruit brandy,” Tammy explained.
Black Star Farms calls its pear brandy “Spirit of Pear.”
“And it is one of the best ones I’ve ever had anywhere,” Tammy said.
The drink she was inspired to make is called the Pear Dauphine. It was developed by Kelley Swenson, a mixologist out of Portland, Oregon and it’s a recipe Tammy has been using in her cocktail classes for years.
It starts with cutting up that perfectly ripened pear and then muddling it in your shaking tin.
“When you muddle pear, you think, ‘I’m going to add a ton of flavor to this drink.’ But, very often it get drowned out by the other ingredients,” Tammy said.
So, adding pear eau-de-vie (French for “water for life” is any unaged brandy from fruit other than grapes) “…can really enhance the peary-ness of a cocktail,” Tammy said.
The other ingredients are lemon juice, gin, and St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur.
The St. Germain is sweet, but the gin and pear eau-de-vie are dry.
“That’s one of the interesting things about pear brandy and other fruit brandy: they have a lot of aroma of the fruity, but because they don’t have any of the sugar or acidity that we associate with fruit, they sometimes don’t really taste like the fruit they started with, although they’ll smell like it. This one -one of the reasons I like it so much- is that it does really taste and smell like pear,” Tammy said.
It results in a very well balanced drink that’s not too sweet.
Because pear can have a sort of grainy or sandy feel to the mouth, it’s important to strain out the pulp after shaking, by double-straining through the Hawthorne strainer and a tea strainer into the glass.
1/4 of a ripe pear, cut into pieces
3/4 oz gin (Valentine Liberator Gin)
3/4 oz pear eau de vie or pear brandy (unsweetened!) (Black Star Farms)
3/4 oz St Germain
1/2 oz lemon juice
Garnish: pear slice
Add pear to cocktail shaker and muddle well. Add remaining ingredients to shaker with ice. Shake well. Double-strain the cocktail through a fine mesh/tea strainer into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish. (recipe adapted from Kelly Swenson)
Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.