…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work
I was going to start off this post extolling the virtues of Calvados, which I honestly believe owns its own post, but then I realized that I had been keeping something from you all. And I’m sorry.
I make dozens and dozens of craft cocktails in my free time. I figure it takes too much effort to figure out how to continue to make cocktails with multiple steps, so compared to drinking liquor neat, there’s probably a much lower likelihood that I’ll overimbibe. Yeah. That’s it, that’s the ticket.
There’s just one problem. Cointreau. If you didn’t know, Cointreau is a delicate, high-alcohol content Triple Sec that is the most expensive liquid on Earth. I neglected to mention that one of its active ingredients is unicorn tears, because that is the only way that you can justify a $50 price tag for a 1 Liter bottle when the generic stuff (Hiram Walker?) is $10 for a half gallon. Now granted, Cointreau is a craft-produced beverage that hails from France, crafted by soaking sweet and bitter orange peels in alcohol and refined in a manner that results in a delicate orange flavor that can be enjoyed neat or served atop chocolate ice cream… sigh. And the cheap stuff is likely made with citric acid, corn syrup, and antifreeze.
But unlike my blogging partner, I’ve always been creeped out by generics. I think it all goes back to my childhood when my mom used to take me to Big Lots when it was, if you can imagine, a much less-refined experience than it is now. My brother and I always loved it because there were always crazy almost-expired foodstuffs we had never seen before, especially the ones that were from failed test-marketed products.
But like my partner, I have always been an obsessive label reader. And one time after a jaunt to Big Lots, my mom got shampoo that was from Canada. No big deal, but after using it, my scalp kind of burned and it hurt my eyes like nothing I have ever felt before. Upon inspection the label revealed that one of the ingredients was Formaldehyde. Yep. The stuff that is a known carcinogen and is used to EMBALM CORPSES. So, needless to say, I don’t think I ever looked at generics the same way after that, but Musician Mama is trying to convert me.
Anywho, back to the Cointreau problem. It really does make a difference in cocktails. The other problem is that the generics are generally 60 proof or lower, in addition to having a noticeable flavor deficit, which can really affect the flavor profile of the libation, as most are designed with an 80-proof spirit.
Enter the mad geniuses at DeKuyper. In 2011 they crafted their first premium spirit (I know I know, I was just as let down as you were that Cheri-Beri Schnapps doesn’t qualify as a premium spirit).
O3 is made with Brazilian oranges, using the rinds, pulp and juice (hence O3), and real sugar. Probably not like the other stuff that is around it in that section of the liquor store that is made with HFCS, terrifying flavorings from a factory somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike, and color agents that were banned from M&Ms 30 years ago. And it is delicious. On the nose it is heavily citrus and almost identical to Cointreau, although I did pick up a slightly more boozy note in the Cointreau via smell. When it comes to tasting, again, the citrus of both smacks you around, with the Cointreau being a bit cleaner and boozy, and the O3 coming up slightly more viscous and sweet. But within the confines of a cocktail, I defy you to tell the difference. Because you can’t.
Since this is such an important base component of SO many cocktails, this product MUST live in your bar. And at a sub $20 price point, I think we can all agree that this won’t mess up your budget too badly when you switch over from the the gallon of citrusy shit in a plastic bottle.
The following cocktail is one I created to marry up the flavors of oranges and apples with a smidge of spice and oh yes, BOOZE. It is named after a story a friend of mine told me about how her villa in the French countryside was overrun by a team of over 100 Laotian cornichon pickers while she was Stateside… but that sounds like fodder for another post…
Shake all ingredients well with ice in a shaker, and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with an orange wheel. And please go for the fresh squeezed juice – it makes all of the difference in the world.