Guide to Calvados – the drink and the place

Written by on September 8, 2018 in Normandy, Wine and Drinks

Calvados is both a place and a drink. It is a department that lies in the heart of Normandy and includes amongst its many jewels the pretty harbour town of Honfleur, swanky Deauville, and the port town of Caen, capital of Calvados as well as William the conqueror’s last home town.

This area is known as the garden of Paris, rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and meat products. It’s also home to some of the best apple orchards in the world from which Calvados the drink is made…

Normandy Eau de Vie

They’ve been making cider in Normandy for centuries and from cider comes Calvados, a sort of apple brandy known as a “drink fit for kings and farmers alike”.

The first official reference regarding cider distillation in Normandy was described by Sir Gilles de Gouberville in his diaries on 28 of March 1553.

Four different types of apple are grown in Calvados – sweet, bitter sweet, bitter and acidic – the perfect combination for cider. To create Calvados, the cider is distilled twice creating eau de vie. The liquid is matured in wood barrels and blended. The result is a strong and rather subtle taste that can blow your socks off.

One of the best known and most important Calvados producers is Pere Magloire, founded in 1821. Their range includes several bottles of differing ages and you’ll find Calvados easily in shops in France as well as overseas.

The Calvados Experience

You can find out all about Calvados at the Calvados Experience, part museum, part show. This brand-new experience opened in 2018 at Pont-L’Eveque on the site of France’s oldest and most famous distillery.

It’s a celebration of and homage to Calvados and I really don’t want to spoil it by giving too much away but this is a fully immersive “experience” with some awesome special effects. One minute you’ll find yourself in a centuries old Norman town on a misty morning listening to bird song, peeking at a farmer and his rosy cheeked wife picking apples. The next minute you’ll find yourself watching an apple mountain tumble and fill the air with the scent of crushed apples. It’s very artistic and very well done, educational as well as fun, telling the history of Calvados – and it’s quite a story.

The Calvados Experience is great for the whole family and there’s a tasting included in the visit (though not for kids) and a very smart shop selling Calvados and cider products plus a picnic area and a café on site.

calvados-experience.com/en – you can take the tour in eight languages.

Calvados Cocktail Competition

Normandy folk love Calvados so much that each year they hold an International Calvados cocktail competition with a different theme, for instance in 2018 competitors had to include a vegetable element. It’s an event that’s taken seriously with entrants from around the world flying in to participate. They are the winners of best bartender competitions from countries like Russia, UK, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and Poland as well as of course France. Student bar tenders also take part. And, if you thought Calvados was just for drinking neat with ice, you couldn’t be more wrong, it makes an excellent base for cocktails.

The competition has been emceed for several years by possibly the world’s most famous bartender, the legendary Colin Field of the Ritz, Paris. “Hotel bars are where it’s at these days” he says. He’s seen Calvados make a splash and move into the sexy world of cocktails and says he’s been working with it since 1982 – always ahead of his time.

In days of old Calvados was a popular tipple with coffee in the morning – and at night. In fact, it’s still drunk this way in some places. But these days it’s far more popular mixed with all sorts of things to create the most delicious cocktails. In Normandy they take their mixes seriously. The International Calvados Cocktail Competition is fun but surprisingly sober, winning is a serious business.

“A good bartender can make the reputation of a bar”, says Colin, “they’re a representative who can convert a bar’s attitude with their deft mix, gift of the gab and their image”.

Next time you’re in a bar – ask for a Calvados cocktail and prepare to be surprised…

Look out for next year’s contest in Calvados, entry is free to the public: www.calvadosnouvellevogue.fr/

And if you’d like to try your own Calvados cocktail at home, this one from renowned producer Père Magloire is a knockout:

Pere Magloire Summer Punch

4 cl of Calvados Père Magloire
2 cl of Pommeau Père Magloire
4 cl of orange juice
2 cl of mango juice
1 cl of strawberry syrup
Serve with ice and a slice!

Tags: ,

Related Articles

The fascinating tale of Chartreuse liqueur

Legend has it (and who doesn’t love a good legend) that the only people who know the recipe and ingredients for the famous Chartreuse liqueur are two monks tucked away in a monastery in Voiron, not far from Grenoble. The 400 year old history of Chartreuse liqueur The liqueur (also known as the “Elixir of […]

Continue Reading

Eight Reasons to visit Normandy in October

It’s coming to that time of year: the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and you’re in need of a family break before Christmas comes along. If you’re after holiday ideas for October half-term, then look no further: Normandy is the perfect destination for a short break with the kids, come rain […]

Continue Reading

What to see and do in Le Treport Normandy

The coastal town of Le Treport, on the edge of Normandy where it joins to Picardy, is seemingly unremarkable at first sight. It is a quite special though when you get to know it, alongside it sister towns of Eu Mers-les- Bains. They nestle along the Channel shore line, just beyond the Somme basin. Here’s […]

Continue Reading

4 great day trip destinations in the department of Manche, Normandy

Normandy has just about everything for holiday makers to France – picturesque villages, gorgeous sandy beaches, historic towns, exquisite countryside and the most delicious gastronomy. Wherever you go on holiday in Normandy, you’ll find some fabulous day trip destinations not far away including the world famous Mont-St-Michel. Here are four more of our favourites in […]

Continue Reading

American craft beer finds favour in Paris

An elegant interior of marble fireplaces, ceiling high, gilt-edged mirrors, crystal chandeliers and ornate furniture formed an unlikely backdrop for a beer and food matching dinner with a twist.  This was no ordinary setting and no ordinary dinner!  The Brewers Association, a not-for-proft trade body representing small and independent American craft brewers, was the guest […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top