As Halloween approaches, I thought I would post a peculiar tipple made of almost ancient potions, called the Widow's Kiss. Not really a spooky drink, though the "widow" must have had some fortitude--this is a potent cocktail.
One sip at a time, this widow's kiss is a touch of heaven on the lips.
The Widow's Kiss
The Widow's Kiss has been spoken of highly by David Wondrich ("astonishingly harmonious and yet intriguing") and Dr. Cocktail himself, Ted Haigh ("the most evocative drink ever"). Therefore, I had to put this to the test.
The printed recipe dates back to 1895, and from all appearances comes from the hand of one George Kappeler. Two of its ingredients--Chartreuse and Benedictine--are assertively herbal, and date back to 1605 and 1510, respectively, when they were employed "medicinally" by the monks who crafted them. Additionally, there are Angostura Bitters, also herbal in nature, which serve to take the edge off the sweeter ingredients.
Then, there's apple brandy. That makes this a suitable drink for autumn as we head into the colder months. While Calvados is suggested, I find that using Laird's bottled-in-bond, 100-proof straight apple brandy is just fine. The only trouble is finding it--you may be able to find Laird's Applejack, but it is not the same beast. Advice is to defer to Calvados if your only alternative is applejack.
A note about Green Chartreuse, also: Some advise yellow Chartreuse in this recipe. It is lower proof and not as assertive. I don't know. The green version is strong-willed, so the argument is that it can overpower the drink. Nonetheless, I like using the green version.
It's strong. It's herbal. Potent. The Benedictine and the Chartreuse combine with the apple brandy to create a complex flavor, reminiscent of anise but veering away from that, into alpine herbs. It is a very full flavor, with a lot of tingle. It can be a little viscous and heavy, but you don't want to rush through this. Savor this kiss.
- 1 1/2 oz apple brandy (Laird's bonded straight apple brandy or French Calvados)
- 3/4 oz Chartreuse (I use the green, but yellow is advised by Wondrich)
- 3/4 oz Benedictine
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. The Widow's Kiss is garnished with a cherry, and when it finds its way to your mouth you will possibly swoon. It's a delight. Bottoms up!