The Girlfriend is feeling crummy, so she was out, leaving me to shoulder the bibulous burden.  So I made up a cocktail to take advantage of my new bottle of Clear Creek Apple Brandy.

Distinction (original):

  • 1 1/2 oz apple brandy (Clear Creek)
  • 1/2 oz Oloroso sherry (Lustau)
  • 1/4 oz yellow Chartreuse (not green)
  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters
    Stir with ice, strain into cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist in the future I would avoid citrus garnishes.  Try a cocktail cherry or, maybe even better, floating a star anise.

The Distinction is named for Pierre Bourdieu’s famous critique of preference as isometric to power.  Personally, I think Bourdieu is missing the forest for the trees.  Sure, taste both is shaped by and gives shape to class, but there is more to it than that.  Otherwise preference must be a product purely of capitalism, and… am I done with grad school yet?

Regardless, the Distinction is a kind of nice trick.  While apple brandy is delicious, most (Laird’s Bonded, with its strong whiskey overtones, may be an exception) are too sharp to transpose directly into “brown spirit” drinks.  This green-apple/grassy sharpness – the result of the unusually high acetaldehyde content of apple brandy (thought to be the cause of the unusually high rates of esophageal cancer in Normandy) – has to be either bridged or tamed to make it play into the normal brown drink profile.  The yellow Chartreuse, with what seems to me like saffron, does this nicely.  Saffron starts out bitter and herbal and ends up buttery – the perfect taste to move from sharp apple brandy to mellow, caramel sherry.