It seems like autumn this year is taking its time to bite. The balmy evenings and a low hanging sun are throwing me off. It’s spooky season but I’m in shorts, dusk at 5pm but my tan is lingering, I’m drinking brandy, but it tastes like fresh summer apples. Turns out, that last brain teaser is due to the fact I have never tried Calvados before. Luckily for me Maison Sassy have teamed up with London’s leading Calvados bar, Coupette, put a cocktail (or 3) in my hand and given me first bite of the cherry apple.
The only thing I knew about brandy is that it is primarily made from fruit and gives my brother strange dreams when he drinks it, so to say I’m a novice of this particular digestif would be rather polite. Calvados is a product typical of Normandy with the fruit of choice being apples or pears. Why does this matter?
Enter Maison Sassy. Les innovateurs de la pomme. 15 hectares of orchards, and over 100 years of experience elevating the region’s cider, while putting Normandy on the map. They are a safe pair of hands when it comes to apples. Their missions continues as they blend the authenticity of the provenance with contemporary cocktail culture, changing perceptions on what can be done with the traditional spirit that is Calvados.
I’m wondering why now? Perhaps, like all of us, they were just waiting for the right partnership to come along.
Enter Coupette. Effortlessly cool and awarded for it. Like most things out of East London they are ahead of the curve, or as Bar Manager Anderi Marcu puts it:
“Coupette has always championed Calvados and we’re seeing a growing appetite for the spirit in customers and bars across the country. It always delights me to see more and more interesting bottles of Calvados on back bars and cocktail menus. Flavour focused spirits are set to be a big trend next year and the distinctive balance of freshness and richness that calvados provides is unmatchable. We’re delighted to be working with Maison Sassy on this project whose family has supported the calvados industry for decades.”
It is pretty easy to see why these two brands work so well together. The two eau de vies in question are: Calvados Fine, a fresh, young and vibrant Calva with aromas of fresh green apple. Once distilled, the two years spent in oak barrels give the liquid its structure, complexity and a sophisticated finish. While best utilised in cocktails, I vouch that neat over ice definitely hits the mark.
Up next, the refined older brother Calvados XO. A little shyer, this amber liquid takes six years distilling and boasts the aromas you want at this time of year (even though I’m not convinced it is autumn yet) – stewed apple, nutmeg with notes of cocoa. Keep this one as is, a perfect digestif.
If all of this sounds a little too rustic for you, don’t worry, Coupette is still one hell of a cocktail bar and knows how to work with Calvados not just praise it. The proof can be found in their most recent recipes.
- Delicious Sour Royale – Calvados Fine, peach, lemon sparkling wine and egg white. Half way between the city and a country pub, I can only sum this up as cider, but much better!
- Pan American Clipper – Calvados Fine, grenedine, lime, absinthe. Don’t be put off by that ‘A-word’ as its bark is worse than its bite. It finally feels like a healthy way to enjoy absinthe. Almost the cocktail you’d expect in the garden of Eden… maybe the absinthe shouldn’t be taken so lightly…
- Martinez – Calvados XO, Dolin Rouge, maraschino. The taste and aromas are as seductive as the name. Coupette know when to break the rules and mix. But they’re the professionals and there is always an exception to a rule. They ensure that the XO takes the lead and everything else is a complement.
All of the above, cocktails and spirits alike are available now in house at Coupette this October, and coming to the world wide web in November 2021. For more information, please visit: www.maison-sassy.com and https://coupette.co.uk
Sam Brady is a London based freelance writer and photographer covering travel and lifestyle.
Photographs courtesy of Maison Sassy and by Sam Brady