September cocktail and cheese pairing: Picon Punch cocktail with a Fleur du maquis cheese
We took a break (thank you, Covid!) but we are coming back strong with a cocktail and cheese pairing for the Picon Punch. This highball is a favorite of cocktail geeks, with ingredients that you can DIY (grenadine) and challenging-to-source bottles (Picon).
Picon Punch and Fleur du maquis
Tips, Tricks & Lessons learned:
- Picon Punch is a real challenge for cheese and cocktail pairing.
- We chose the fleur du maquis as the best cheese pairing for the Picon punch cocktail because the combination was better than just the sum of their parts. The combination accentuates the herbal notes in the picon and there is a pleasant sourness and acidity.
- We tested with 11 cheeses. The only ones in addition to Fleur du maquis that vaguely work are 2 year Comté (brings out the orange in the Picon plus a chocolate note) and Irish Cheddar, which gives a sweet finish. (wild card that I got on promo in my La Bellevie shopping)
- Cheeses that made for a neutral or uninteresting pairing: Hercule, 2 year Mimolette, Brie de Meaux, Chavignol, Selles-sur-Cher, Ossau-Iraty, Trou de Cru, and bleu de Sassenage.
- I don’t think you should DIY every bar ingredient, but Grenadine is definitely worth making from scratch. It’s easy and tastes better than bottled syrups from the shop. There are lots of recipes online, and this is a particularly easy one. Read the ingredients to make sure you are buying 100% pomegranate juice. It’s often mixed with other fruits even if it just says “pomegranate juice” on the bottle.
- Picon is easily sourced in France, but not so in the US. If you are in the US, either pay premium to order from an international distributor or try a DIY version. There are plenty of Picon amer recipes online like this one. And the cocktail police will not arrest you if you just sub in a different amer.
- Different recipes recommend different brandies for the float. We used Camus cognac but I like the idea of using a Spanish brandy, as suggested in several recipes.
- Many recipes suggest an irish coffee glass, so I substituted with a close-enough absinthe glass. Next time I’ll use a highball glass as the cocktail works best with a lot of ice and a generous brandy float on top, so I want more space for both. Otherwise, as the cocktail waters down and warms up, the sweetness from the grenadine and the herbs from the picon give it a flat Coke flavor.
Picon Punch recipe
- 1 1/2 ounces / 45 ml Amer Picon*
- 1/4 ounce / 7ml grenadine**
- Sparkling water
- 1/2 ounce / 15 ml brandy
- lemon peel for garnish
Pour Picon and grenadine into a highball glass filled with ice.
Top with sparkling water.
Pour brandy on top, but don’t mix it in (making a ‘float’).
Garnish with lemon zest.
*If you cannot get Amer Picon make a DIY version or substitute with another Amer
**Homemade grenadine: Mix equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar. Add a dash of orange blossom water.
Next Up On Cocktail and Cheese Pairings: Jack Rose (make use of that homemade grenadine!)