Complex yet smooth, this 19th century charmer is spookily good
October brings longer nights, cooler weather – and Halloween. So it’s the perfect setting for The Widow’s Kiss.
This autumnal drink combines calvados, yellow Chartreuse, and Bénédictine. Her alluring, slightly sweet herbal flavor will entice you.
Which is the idea, of course. Won’t you step into our lair?
Recipe: The Widow’s Kiss Cocktail
This cocktail requires some ingredients (calvados and yellow Chartreuse in particular) that many people don’t stock in their home bars. If you don’t want to invest the money to buy those ingredients before you taste the drink, we suggest ordering this cocktail next time you’re at a place that features craft cocktails. If the bartenders don’t know how to make it (and they may not – this drink has fallen out of favor, alas), just give them this recipe.
This drink takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves one.
- 1½ ounces calvados (see Notes for substitutions)
- ¾ ounce yellow Chartreuse (see Notes)
- ¾ ounce Bénédictine
- 1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters (to taste; we prefer two, but then we really like bitters)
- maraschino cherry for garnish (very optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir until well chilled (about 30 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe, preferably one that’s been chilled. Add garnish, if you wish, and serve.
- Why stir this cocktail rather than shake it? Because all the ingredients are clear. Shaking creates oxygen bubbles, which can cloud the drink.
- But we often shake anyway, rebels that we are.
- Calvados is a French apple brandy. It’s great as an after-dinner drink, but even better in cocktails.
- Some recipes for this drink specify 2 ounces of calvados rather than 1½. We think that’s a bit unbalanced, but you may not.
- Need a substitute for calvados? You could try applejack, an American apple brandy. It has good flavor and usually is cheaper than calvados (though we think calvados works better in this drink).
- Chartreuse is a slightly sweet liqueur with strong herbal flavor. It comes in both yellow and green versions. If you have only green and don’t want to buy a bottle of yellow (we don’t blame you – it’s expensive stuff), you can substitute green. But if you go this route, start with only half the amount we specify. The flavor of green chartreuse is much stronger, so a little goes a long way.
- Carthusian monks began making Chartreuse during the 1730s in the town of Voiron (close to Grenoble and the French Alps). They stopped producing it in 1793, and again in 1903, when they were expelled from France. They made Chartreuse in Spain from 1903 until the late 1920s, when they returned to France.
- Bénédictine, like Chartreuse, is a somewhat sweet herbal liqueur. Unlike Chartreuse, however, it was not created by monks. In fact, Bénédictine was invented by Alexandre Le Grand, a French industrialist and wine merchant, in 1863. Le Grand was a creative marketer, though, so he always claimed it had been developed at a Benedictine Abbey in Normandy.
- Garnish is very optional for this drink, but it looks nice. For pictures, we generally use neon-colored supermarket maraschino cherries because they have fun eye appeal. But their flavor is pretty awful.
- For better flavor, try a version made from actual marasca cherries. Many liquor stores carry the Luxardo brand of maraschino cherries, and their quality is quite high. Luxardo cherries are not cheap, though – a jar costs close to $20. If your liquor store doesn’t carry them, you can find them online.
- How did the Widow’s Kiss get its name? No one is quite sure. But we do know that a recipe for the drink first appeared in print in George Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks, published in 1895. Kappeler probably invented the drink himself.
A Kiss is Just a Kiss
“Ah, moonlight and love songs,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Right here in this glass.”
“Never out of date,” I said. “Though sadly off menus at gin joints these days.”
“The world will always welcome cocktails,” said Mrs K R. “Especially ones as good as this.”
“That no one can deny,” I said.
“You must remember this,” said Mrs K R. “We’ll be needing another round.”
On that you can rely.
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Queen Elizabeth Cocktail
Golden Dawn Cocktail
Jack Rose Cocktail
Last Word Cocktail
Rob Roy Cocktail
Or check out the index for more