Apricot brandy in drink recipes
What is is with this stuff? Browsing through old cocktail recipes you will see apricot brandy specified much more often than other fruit brandies. There is no certain answer as to why this is the case but I suspect bartenders and cocktail alchemists of the time regarded apricot brandy as more mixable with more to offer a cocktail. Perhaps also the quality of apricot brandies of the day was higher than other fruit brandies. Or it was just more popular with the drinking public?
I have found apricot brandy to bring some nice complexity to cocktails especially when used as a modifier to another base spirit. Apricots seem to have a pretty full flavor profile and as long as you like the flavor they do well in cocktails.
Brandy or liqueur?
When you see apricot brandy called for in a drink recipe, in most cases the recipe is really referring to an apricot flavored liqueur. In fact if you go try to find apricot brandy at the liquor store, apricot liqueur is what you will almost always find. So this works out well for the modern mixologist but you should note that the apricot brandies called for in older recipes were probably less sweet than what you find today.
There is such a thing as real apricot brandy. It is an eau de vie similar to kirsch or Poire William (made from cherries or pears). An apricot eau de vie is usually about 80 proof, clear, and dry. It is a distillation of the fermented juice of the fruit often with the pits included to lend some complexity to the flavor profile.
Which apricot brandy should I use?
If you are using a lower end brand apricot brandy such as DeKuyper or Hiram Walker you may need to cut back on it a little so your drink won't be overly sweet. A better idea is to just get some quality apricot brandy that doesn't taste like an apricot flavored bomb pop. Bols Apricot Brandy is the next step up. It is stronger, not quite as sweet, and offers more natural apricot flavors.
Getting into the premium products, Marie Brizard Apry is a fine product. This is an apricot liqueur that is fresh, balanced, and won't take over your drink. Or try Rothman & Winter's Orchard Apricot which is actually a combination of an apricot eau de vie and a liqueur. You get the benefits of the eau de vie's wonderful stone fruit aromas along with the sweetness and fruitiness that the drink recipe is expecting from the liqueur.
You can also try a straight apricot eau de vie in your cocktail recipe - it's always fun to experiment. You may need to add a sweetening agent especially if there is an acid in the recipe.
Have you found a good apricot brandy not listed here?