Not Cider, Not Applejack: It’s Pommeau, Your New Favorite Summer Aperitif

We’ve long sung the virtues of applejack as a summer spirit. But we’ve discovered something lighter, a little lower-proof, and just as flavorful that we’ll be using in cocktails for months to come—Pommeau.

A traditional aperitif in its native Normandy, a region famed for its cider and its Calvados, Pommeau is just catching on Stateside. It’s a blend of apple brandy and unfermented apple juice, and clocks in around 16-20%—a little boozier than a wine, a lot less so than a spirit.

While France, naturally enough, is Pommeau’s spiritual homeland, we’re loving a version from Tattersall Distilling out of Minneapolis. Light and a little tart, sweet in the manner of the juiciest apples, it’s a delight served chilled as an aperitif, but we’re really loving it in light, vibrant summer cocktails. Give these three original drinks a try.

Easy: Apple & Ginger

A flavor pairing with obvious appeal. We’re using spicy ginger beer, rather than ginger ale, to counter the Pommeau’s natural sweetness. Rosemary adds aromatics and dresses the drink up a bit, too. If you’re a fan of Mules or Stormies, this is the drink for you.

Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine three ounces of Pommeau and three ounces of ginger beer. Give a quick stir. Squeeze a lime wedge into the glass, and garnish with a rosemary sprig, clapped between your hands before you add it to the glass.

Intermediate: Cider Old Fashioned

We love that Pommeau is complex enough to enjoy straight, but since it’s less than half as boozy as a standard spirit, you can drink a lot more of it. (If you’re so inclined.) Here, we’re pairing it with bourbon in a cocktail that drinks like a stiff Old Fashioned, but with a lower ABV and a light summer energy. 

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, stir together an ounce of bourbon and two ounces of Pommeau, along with half an ounce of honey syrup—that’s honey, cut 1:1 with hot water and stirred until dissolved—and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a mixing glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a thin apple slice and an orange twist, twisting it over the surface of the glass to spray its citrus oils all over.

Advanced: Jackie Rose 

One of the world’s truly underappreciated classics, the Jack Rose brings together apple brandy, citrus, and grenadine—which, in its true form, is just a reduced pomegranate syrup. Since Pommeau is essentially an apple brandy, it works perfectly in this lighter Jack Rose rendition, with pomegranate juice instead of grenadine and bright, juicy Pommeau. A true Jack Rose can pack a stealth punch, but you can have two of these Jackie Roses before dinner, no problem.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine two ounces of Pommeau, ¾ ounce of pomegranate juice (POM is a good brand), ¼ ounce fresh lemon juice and ¼ ounce lime juice. Shake until very well-chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin lemon wheel, thin lime wheel, and very thin apple slice.

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