Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology: The Widow’s Kiss

Posted on: March 11, 2011

When thumbing through forgotten tombs of cocktailian lore, a drink must possess certain attributes to catch the eye of the Frontier Mixologist.  I generally trend towards stirred cocktails; old-school liquers and bitters are a definite plus.  A redolent name helps tremendously, too. This week’s cocktail hits all these marks.  It dates to at least 1895, and is titled The Widow’s Kiss.

Additionally, the drink boasts potent, complex flavors from classic ingredients that, while widely available, are far from run of the mill.

The Widow’s Kiss

1½ oz. calvados (sub. applejack)

¾ oz. Bénédictine

¾ oz. Chartreuse (I like green, but feel free to use the yellow variety)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with ice for no less than thirty seconds; strain into a chilled cocktail glass, preferably that looks Victorian or Edwardian.

We’ve used both applejack and Bénédictine before, but Chartruse is new to our pages.  Similar to Bénédictine, Chartruse is an herbal liqueur based on an ancient recipe developed by monks.

These liqueurs are the original elixir, containing a sufficient variety of herbs and spices — 130 in the case of Chartruse — as to make Colonel Sanders look like an amateur.  Bénédictine was developed in the 19th century by a spirits manufacturer, supposedly from a monastic recipe, but Chartruse is the real deal.  It is still made by a monastic order, which supports itself with sales of the liqueur.  Chartruse comes in green and yellow, with the yellow version being a bit more mellow and lower in proof.  Some prefer the yellow in the Widow’s Kiss, but I say use what you have.  One great thing about Chartruse is that, while it is a bit pricey, it will last you forever, and it is the only spirit that purportedly improves in the bottle.  Whiskey benefits from age, but only in the barrel; once it’s bottled all the action stops.  That 12 year old Scotch that you’ve had for 12 more years?  It’s still good, but it’s no better than when you bought it.  Alternatively, you can often find smaller, 350 mL bottles of both Chartreuse and Bénédictine.

The Widow’s Kiss is without question a winter drink.  It’s apple, herbal, and spice flavors benefit sitting cozily indoors.  But the thin comforts of winter are, by now, threadbare.  So, as there are (hopefully) only a few more weeks of winter left, this drink is a fitting good night kiss to the bleak days of such a discontented season.

Drink up,


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