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Pear brandy from a Michigan winery highlights this modern classic cocktail

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The Pear Dauphine features both pear puree and a pear brandy.

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.

She had also recently visited Black Star Farms located near Traverse City. That regionally famous winery also distills some of its fruit, including a brandy made from pears.

“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.

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Some of the ingredients for Tammy's version of the Pear Dauphine.

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.

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen shakes the ingredients with ice before double-straining into the glass.

Pear Dauphine

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.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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