Norman conquerors

25 July, 2018

That explains why the apple brandies from this region are so respected. But, just as it was for Scottish single malt producers, making the transition to mixing fine spirit into cocktails required a major leap of faith.


The use of calvados as a cocktail ingredient came as something of a surprise to the region’s producers. But just as surprising was the fact that the new drinks makers were turning not just to the sweet, fruity and light spirits of Calvados Pays D’Auge, but to aged and more expensive vintages, too.

“From Los Angeles to Tokyo, by way of London, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore in particular, calvados has been at the forefront of trends in cocktail bars,” says Drouin.

“When the use of calvados in cocktail bars began we thought only the youngest versions, such as Sélection Blanche de Normandie would be used. Somewhat to our surprise, we discovered sumptuous cocktails made with our VSOP or even Hors d’Age (calvados aged over 15 years) in New York – in Alain Ducasse’s restaurants for example.”

The attention that calvados has had has not gone unnoticed by Normandy’s tourist authorities either. As with scotch whisky, the hunt for provenance and heritage and the convenience of the proximity of Normandy to the UK and countries across Europe mean that the spirit has started attracting its own tourist trade, too.

At Pont-l’Évêque you’ll find the Calvados Experience, ‘an immersive, multi-sensory journey’ into the story of calvados. If you’ve ever visited the Famous Grouse Experience in Scotland, you’ll have an idea of what to expect. You wander through several rooms while an audio-visual presentation tells you all about calvados. It’s a tad Disney, but it serves as a very impressive ambassador for a drinks style that is growing in popularity. The Calvados Experience shop also shows what a diverse and versatile spirit calvados is.

It is proof that the good will come out. Calvados is better than good. It’s a great, versatile and refreshing spirit. It goes well with food, it tastes good neat, and it can be the base for stylish and sophisticated cocktails.

While the debate rages as to whether sherry can really have a major comeback or is a hipster fad, or whether grape brandy such as cognac and armagnac will take the crown away from whisky, calvados is a simple stepping stone and an easy spirit to love.

Perhaps its time has come. Move over champagne makers, get in line cognac producers – your friends in the north want their time in the sun.

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