Hannah Palmer Egan
La Pomme Bonal
More than one member of the Vermont food cognoscenti has said that the pinnacle of the local cider revolution will be in apple brandy. And in the last few years, several orchardists and distillers have started making the stuff. But the only one that's hit the market so far is Mad River Distillers' Malvados
Made with heirloom apples from local orchards, it's a fruit-forward, seriously strong sipper (100 proof) that's not to be taken lightly. It also won honors in the 2016 Good Food Awards.
People with more hair on their chests than I might sip Malvados neat in a snifter before or after dinner, but I like to dilute and darken it just a touch — like, say, with Bonal, the barely bitter, grape-based French aperitif that rounds out the brandy's boozy kick.
In the cocktail below, OJ adds a touch of tart, while elder rum from St. Johnsbury's Dunc's Mill
enhances the Bonal's florals and subtle sweetness.
2 ounces Mad River Distillers Malvados
1 ounce Bonal Gentiane Quina
2 ounces orange juice
1/2 ounce Dunc's Mill Elderflower rum
Scant splash maple syrup
2 drops Angostura bitters
Blood orange or lemon peel, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients (except garnish) and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe or other cocktail glass, garnish with citrus peel or wheel, and serve.