Making a Calvados cocktail in a bar
Drinking Calvados → How & when to drink Calvados

How & When to
drink Calvados

Old vin­tages, young blends, in cock­tails or in gast­ro­nomy: here are a few of the many ways Calvados can be enjoyed..

In the classic manner

A lovely old Calvados is a treat best enjoyed on relaxed drinking occasions and in good company.

10, 20, 30 years in cask: time has woven its spell!

For relax­ing in the even­ing, after a good meal, Calvados is best served in a tulip-shaped glass which con­cen­trates and reveals its irres­ist­ibly smooth, full char­ac­ter, its oaky and car­a­mel­ised notes and its amaz­ing length on the palate.

The smooth­ness of the very finest Calvados also permit an infin­ite number of pair­ings includ­ing dark chocol­ate or a good cigar!

They are a won­der­ful accom­pani­ment to “grands crus” cof­fees (Hon­dur­as, Panama, Ethiopia, etc.).

Nowadays, many people have re-adop­ted the tra­di­tion of the  “Café Calva” with the “Calva” con­fer­ring sub­tlety and eleg­ance to the coffee.

Calvados can also be enjoyed through­out an entire meal when a few small sips will delight the palate and bring out the fla­vour of many dishes.

A Calvados VS served “glacé” (icy cold) is the per­fect accom­pani­ment to smoked fish and caviar.

A VSOP can be enjoyed with foie gras as well as Normandy cheeses whose creamy texture softens the Calvados’ acidity and brings out its fruity character.

Born between the land and the sea, Calvados will also be appreciated with meats such as roast poultry or poultry in a sauce, a creamy veal escalope with pan-fried mushrooms, roast pork with apples, a pre-salted leg of lamb or a duckling in honey.

When it comes to sea­food, it pairs per­fectly with sea scal­lops, Chau­sey blue lob­ster, flam­béed prawns or a wing of skate. With fresh­wa­ter fish, it is fab­ulous with a trout with almonds.

Calvados also goes well with excit­ing sweet and sour com­bin­a­tions, those that include apples and pears, of course, but also using peaches, prunes, grapes or apricots.

With desserts, the pastry notes in the Calvados are per­fect with fruit tarts, tarte tatin, tiram­isu and any kind of chocol­ate-based cake.

A trout that has just been caught
Scallops, symbols of Normandy
© Normandie Fraîcheur Mer
Camembert, the jewel of French cheese heritage
© Fromages AOP de Normandie
2 to 4-year-old Calvados are perfect for more casual drinking occasions.

Their cleaner fruity or floral aromas are ideal for aperitif drinking and entertaining when a fresh, lively character is sought.

Calvados as an old-fashioned cocktail

Served over ice, as a long drink or a stronger short drink, Calvados has been a firm favour­ite in the cock­tail world since cock­tails first appeared on the scene in the United States.

The Apple Toddy (Calvados and baked apple) was even men­tioned in the first French cock­tail hand­book by bar man­ager Emile Lefeuvre as far back as 1889.

Today Calvados’ suc­cess con­tin­ues unabated.

The most respec­ted bar­tenders in the top bars and major inter­na­tion­al hotels use Calvados as a key ingredi­ent in their creations.

This new gen­er­a­tion of mix­o­lo­gists, impressed by Calvados’ bal­ance of fresh­ness, strength and fruit­i­ness, has adop­ted this “very craft” and “100% French” spirit to lend their cock­tails a dis­tinct­ive stamp.

Three Calvados cocktails made at Harry's Bar in Paris
Calvados cocktails in Harry's Bar, Paris © Belveze

Originally known as the “coup du milieu” (a quick drink in the middle of a meal), the Trou Normand now serves as a generic term to designate this custom that has been entrenched in French habits since the 18th century.

Impressionist painting by Albert Fourié, Wedding in Yport
Wedding feast at Yport by Albert Fourié - 1886 © Musée des Beaux Arts de Rouen

During long meals, between two main courses, it is cus­tom­ary to offer guests a small glass of Calvados to be knocked back in one gulp or to enjoy with a sorbet.

Made famous at the end of the 19th cen­tury by Maupassant’s short stor­ies or Albert Four­ié’s paint­ing, it was used as a means of reviv­ing guests’ appet­ites over the course of a long meal. By asso­ci­ation, this term also denotes the break that one allows one­self to take during these long fest­ive or cere­mo­ni­al meals.

The Trou Nor­mand has lent its name to many bars and res­taur­ants as well as a famous French film.

In 1966, a broth­er­hood was even foun­ded to pro­mote it: the Con­frérie du Trou Normand!

For many people, the “Trou Nor­mand” is the first thing that springs to mind when one men­tions Normandy. It is now a part of French culin­ary heritage.

Is Calvados an apple eau-de-vie?

No. Calvados is a cider or perry eau-de-vie and not an apple or pear eau-de-vie — i.e. it is obtained from fruit that has already been fer­men­ted. It is depend­ent on the terroir, the vari­et­ies har­ves­ted, their qual­ity and quant­ity, and the nature of the cider or perry made from these fruits.

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