When it comes to elegant cocktails involving fine French distillates and dripping with savoire faire, we look no farther than our favorite ex-pat, best-selling author and Chez Panisse alum, David Lebovitz. In his recently released book, Drinking French, the Paris-based author offers a winning mix of arm chair travel and drink recipes we love. The book includes more than 150 recipes of classic apéritifs, café favorites, creative infusions and liqueurs, and trendy cocktails from the hottest Paris bars, and this simple apple-scented cocktail is one we’ve committed to memory. A splash of champagne before serving gives it an especially celebratory note. David introduces the Pomme Royale with his signature wit and some context. He writes:
I questioned my comprehension of French when I read about a bottle of liquor called Pomme Prisonnière, which I thought meant “imprisoned apple.” But my understanding turned out to be right. With a bit of the French flair for embellishment, it turns out that indeed, an apple was imprisoned in a bottle. But what a prison it is! In Normandy, Christian Drouin produces a bottle of calvados with an apple apprehended by the aromatic brandy.
This recipe comes from Julia Grossman, who ran a French-themed café and bar in New York City, where she kept a bottle of Pomme Prisonnière safely behind the bar. A splash of sparkling wine finishes the drink, giving it royale status and a much better send-off than some of the other imprisoned royals got in France.
2 ounces (60ml) calvados
1 ounce (30ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄2 ounce (15ml) Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1⁄2 ounce (15ml) simple syrup
Superfine or granulated sugar
Splash of dry sparkling wine, such as crémant
Lemon twist, for garnish
Add the Calvados, lemon juice, Cointreau, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake until well chilled.
Make a slash in the lemon wedge and run it around the rim of a chilled coupe glass. Spread some sugar on a small plate and dip the rim of the glass into the sugar. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with the lemon twist. Makes 1 cocktail.
To give the drink an earthier note, use honey syrup (page 271) in place of the simple syrup.
Reprinted with permission from Drinking French: The Iconic Cocktails, Aperitifs, and Café Traditions of France, with 160 recipes by David Lebovitz Ó 2020. Photographs Ó 2020 by Ed Anderson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.