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.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Queen Elizabeth Cocktail
Golden Dawn Cocktail
Jack Rose Cocktail
Last Word Cocktail
Rob Roy Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
Looks so pretty, wonderful picture!☺
Halloween cocktails ... good all month. I look forward to your posts for the next few weeks.
Stores around here started selling orange and black goth decorations in August, but I've been resisting having Halloween start just after people put away the red-white-and-blue buntings.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Natalia, tastes MUCH better than it looks! This is a superb cocktail. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, this is a wonderful fall cocktail. Good through Thanksgiving, I'd say. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a beauty! It looks and sounds delicious.
Hi Pam, it really is delicious. A truly good drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm am indeed enticed! And calvados is a favorite of mine. I love using it in warm desserts, too. Lovely. ~Valentina
Hi Valentina, isn't calvados wonderful? Love its flavor. And it's terrific in this drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi R, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I see another run to the liquor store is in order!
Hi Anne, always fun to visit your friendly local liquor store. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds very reliable and a great use for Benedictine. Chartreuse is one we often drink but liked the tips on the two kinds. Manservant prefers the stronger one! Thanks John. Today seems like a perfect day for this 💋
Hi Abbe, Chartreuse is good, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Pretty drink and sounds rather sexy. Thanks for the info on all the ingredients. Sounds nice and sweet like I enjoy. I have Calvados but not the others. Maybe I should try ordering it out first before purchasing the bottles. Nice recipe!
Hi Vicki, I'd definitely try ordering this out first to make sure you'll like it. Bet you will, though. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This cocktail looks so pretty but you are absolutely right about the ingredients...I will definitely try this when I have a chance...thanks for sharing another "exotic" cocktail.
Have a wonderful rest of the week John!
Hi Juliana, this is a delightful cocktail -- it's become one of our favorites. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have had both calvados and chartreuse in my bar at home so clearly this is a cocktail for me :)
Hi Laura, it is! Enjoy. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The name itself sounds already intriguing and tempting :-) Beautiful shots, John.
Hi Angie, it is rather a fun name, isn't it? And really fun flavor! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is such a gorgeous yet also spooky drink!
Hi GiGi, spooky good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am going to take your suggestion of trying to order this next time I go out!
I actually have some calvados that I use for baking, good stuff. I have never had yellow Chartreuse but it sounds good, I will have to give this a whirl the next time I am out
definitely 2 dashes of bitters for me:) this sounds like a very dashing drink...
Looks deadly! I’ve only had green Chartreuse... interesting to know it’s so much stronger!
Hi Ashley, you'll be glad you did. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dahn, calvados is wonderful! And Chartreuse has such a neat flavor -- very nice in cocktails. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sherry, we LOVE bitters! Kind of like the salt and pepper of cocktails. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi David, it's not that yellow Chartreuse is mild, because it's not; but green Chartreuse really is intense! Thanks for the comment.
I haven't had any Calvados in the cupboard for years, but this makes me think I need to put it on my shopping list! And, yes, bitters are a must!
Hi Jean, calvados is nice to have on hand even if you're not making this drink. But you SHOULD make this drink -- it's spectacular! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Calvados and autumn! Cheers. GREG
Hi Greg, calvados is SO appropriate for autumn! Love it. And autumn, actually. :-) Thanks for the comment.
These would be so fun and festive for our Halloween gathering at the end of the month. Thanks for the inspiration.
Hi Bobbi, you should SO do that! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh John, about 95% of what you have in your home bar, you won't find in mine. :) I do love this enticing cocktail and the apple flavor liquor is a nice flavor for the fall.
Hi MJ, we have kinda assembled an assortment over the years. ;-) And yeah, this is wonderful for fall! Thanks for the comment.
What a terrific name for a cocktail! Perfect for Halloween!
Hi Amy, the name is remarkable, isn't it? So is the drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, what a fantastic sounding and looking drink. I love your image with the black background it's stunning. I'll take mine "shaken not stirred" and bring on the bubbles.
Hi Ron, we're more than OK with shaking drinks that "should" be stirred. :-) Thanks for the comment.
wow. another drink I'll never make for myself because it's too strong, but I just love your cocktail photos!
Hi Mimi, a lot of the classic cocktails DO contain a fair amount of booze. When we test cocktails, Mrs KR and I usually split a drink for exactly that reason. Thanks for the comment.
Very seductive and misterious! Cheers to spooky drinks!
Hi Denise, spooky drinks are the best! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the name of this drink. It sounds like a noir novel. It also sounds delicious.
Hi Jeff, the name DOES sound like a noir novel! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wow, this one sounds right up my alley. What a beautiful color. And I love the name... ;-)
Hi Frank, this is a really good drink. We had it again on Friday! :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a perfect cocktail for this season. Looks the name,especially.and this one is loaded with booze.
Hi Ansh, it's delish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The name makes me think of some sort of melancholy old black and white film. LOL But any drink with Calvados in it is definitely uplifting.
Hi Carolyn, the name kinda does that, doesn't it? And totally agree on the calvados! Thanks for the comment.
Looks yummy! Cool name, too!
Hi AwA, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Perfect for Halloween indeed! Great name for a cocktail and it sounds really refreshing.
Hi Caroline, the name is something else, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
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