Believed to have been created at the Embassy Club in London in 1922, this concoction has a fanciful name that translates to “healthy and wealthy” in the Tibetan Sherpa language. It features two ingredients that are somewhat rare and underused: Swedish punsch and Calvados. Swedish punsch is a rum-based liqueur, and Kronan Swedish punsch recently became the only brand available in St. Louis stores.
Kronan’s version is a little viscous and fairly sweet, with notes of caramel and leather plus a hint of funkiness from the inclusion of Batavia arrack. Calvados, however, has been available for quite some time. Calvados is apple brandy made in a style similar to cognac or American whiskey. Apples and pears from the Normandy region of France are harvested, crushed, fermented and distilled. The distillate is then aged in barrels, where the fruit flavors meld with the woody characteristics of the barrels to create a pleasant sweet-tartness. The normal aging process is around two to five years, but some bottlings are aged longer. There are three brands to look for: Busnel, Boulard and Le Compte*.
Busnel screams of barrel notes, hiding most of the fruit flavor and leading it to mix more like bourbon. Boulard is a walk through the orchard. It’s highly fruity and subtly sweet with just hints of the barrel. Le Compte offers the best attributes of the previous two. It has Busnel’s strong presence of barrel on the palate with the enticing aroma of Boulard. In the Diki Diki, these two sweet spirits are balanced with bitter grapefruit juice for a fruit-forward concoction that welcomes spring with every sip.
Serves | 1 |
- 1½ oz Calvados, preferably Boulard
- ¾ oz fresh-squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice
- ½ oz Kronan Swedish punsch
- 1 dash simple syrup
- pear slices or lemon twist, for garnish
| Preparation | Combine all ingredients except garnish with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake for 15 seconds. Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with pear slices or a lemon twist.
* Le Compte is currently available to the St. Louis market online only.
Reading Calvados Labels
When shopping for Calvados, you’ll find two key bits of information on the label: the age designation and the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) designation. Age designations are similar to those used for cognacs, with certain terms representing different aging times. The younger the age, the more fruit will shine through; the older, the more barrel notes you’ll taste. Fine, 3-Star and Originel designations indicate the Calvados was aged at least two years in French oak. Vieux indicates three years of aging in French oak. Vieux Reserve, VO and VSOP are for Calvados aged at least four years in French oak. And Hors d’Age, XO and Age Inconnu Calvados have been aged at least six years in French oak. The AOC designation – French certification for certain agricultural products, including wine and spirits – for Calvados refers to a few things: age minimums, process of distillation and where in Normandy the fruit is grown.
AOC Calvados have no prescribed distillation process, are mainly column-distilled and are aged at least two years in oak. They can be made anywhere in the Calvados region. AOC Calvados Domfrontais are made from at least 30 percent pears, fermented for eight weeks, column-distilled and aged for a minimum of three years. These tend to be rarer and a bit more astringent. AOC Pays d’Auge is a prestigious designation given to Calvados that undergo the dual process* and are fruit-fermented for six weeks, double-distilled and aged at least two years in oak.
Also look for Calvados Fermier, which is produced on a single farm from tree to bottle. And Pommeau is an unaged Calvados right off the still that is blended with apple juice, aged 14 months in barrel and bottled at 34-proof. It’s a sweeter version that packs less of a punch but is easier on the wallet.
*During dual process, the previous year’s cider is distilled to about 30 percent volume (called les petites eaux) in September using an alembic still. After the current harvest is made into cider, les petites eaux is redistilled to 70 percent volume in the alembic still.
Matt Seiter is a co-founder of the United States Bartenders’ Guild’s St. Louis chapter, a member of the national board for the USBG’s MA program and a continuing educator for all desiring knowledge of the craft of mixology. He is a member of Drink Lab and is the creator of the Sanctuaria Cocktail Club.