Apricot “Brandy”

Received the following question from BWonder on the Sea Breeze Cooler:

First off, let me say I love your blog and I use your improvements/substitutions to mix Savoy drinks at home quite often. One thing I don’t get is why you tend to use Apry and Orchard Apricot in place of apricot brandy. I have a bottle of Finger Lakes Distilling’s peach brandy (as well as Apry and Orchard Apricot), which I think is more similar to apricot brandy than an apricot liqueur. It makes a completely different drink. I’m in Rochester, NY – perhaps out on the west coast you can’t get a real peach/apricot brandy?

First, thanks for the kind comments! Always glad to hear the blog is read and appreciated.

Fruit Eau-de-Vie are used rarely in cocktails.

High quality Eau-de-Vie are too expensive, scarce, and hard to produce to be used in any quantity for cocktails.

You will not find a bottle of Apricot Eau-de-Vie in 99% of bars today, and that has not changed in the last 200+ years of cocktail history.

When a cocktail recipe calls for “Apricot Brandy”, 99.9% of the time, what the recipe is actually calling for is “Apricot Flavored Brandy” or “Apricot Liqueur”.

For the remaining 1% of cocktails, it is a problem.

At least, with “Cherry Brandy”, you can be fairly certain that when “Cherry Brandy” is written, the author means Cherry Liqueur, as there is a common name, “Kirsch” or “Kirschwasser”, which is usually used in cocktail recipes calling for Cherry Eau-de-vie.

In the case of Apricot Eau-de-Vie, this is not the case. We’ve only got “Apricot Brandy” for either substance.

About the only advice I can give you is to familiarize yourself with the “families” of drinks.

In this case, make a few “Coolers”.

What is in most of the drinks called “Coolers”?

The “Shady Grove Cooler”, for example: 2 oz Gin; Juice 1/2 Lemon; 1/2 Tablespoon of Sugar; Shake and strain into a tall glass. Fill with Ginger Beer.

With the sweetener from the Ginger beer and the 1/2 Tablespoon of Sugar, this is a fairly rich drink.

Would a very dry drink made of half gin and half Eau-de-Vie with only the sweetener from “2 Dashes Grenadine” make sense in the same class of drinks as the Shady Grove Cooler? Would it be any good?

Remember, you’re building this drink into a 14 oz Collins glass with “1 lump of ice” and filling it with only chilled soda.

As a practical exercise, invest in some of Destillerie Purkhart’s “Blume Marillen” and make the drink this way:

Sea Breeze Cooler?
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Grenadine
1 oz Apricot Eau-de-Vie
1 oz Dry Gin
1 Lump of ice.
Use long tumbler and fill with soda Water. 2 sprigs fresh mint on top.

Try it and have a few friends try it. What reaction do you get?

Invest in a bottle of Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot and make the drink this way:

Sea Breeze Cooler?
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Grenadine
1 oz Apricot Liqueur
1 oz Dry Gin
1 Lump of ice.
Use long tumbler and fill with soda Water. 2 sprigs fresh mint on top.

What reaction do you get?

Given your new knowledge of the “Cooler” category, which drink makes more sense?