In our cheese and cocktail pairing project, I combine my cocktail know-how with the encyclopedic cheese knowledge of Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou for a series of classic cocktails paired with French cheese.
As we move into October, I’m starting to think about autumn-worthy cocktails, and the Jack Rose with its Calvados base always seems right for when the weather turns crisper and the apple harvest is upon us. After taste testing it against several cheeses, we recommend pairing the Jack Rose cocktail with a fairly young Bouton de Culotte
Cheese and Cocktail Pairing Tips, Tricks & Lessons learned:
- We chose the young Bouton de Culotte as the best cheese pairing for the Jack Rose cocktail because the combination was better than just the sum of their parts. The acidic drink with a cheese that gives off enjoyable hints of cement wall and dirt floor initially flattened the cocktail’s flavor, but that was immediately replaced by a sensation of any rough edges being rounded out in the Jake Rose.
- We tested with 11 cheeses. The only ones in addition to Bouton de Culotte that vaguely work are Jurançon which had an initial bitterness but then really amplified by the sweet and sour side of the cocktail, and the Époisses.
- Cheeses that made for a neutral or uninteresting pairing: Selles-sur-Cher that was generally okay but brought out a touch too much acidity, Ossau-Iraty that heightens the sweetness in the drink, Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage which is a little too complex for the pairing, Gouda, Saint-Nectaire, and Cantal.
- 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. Do read the ingredients label for the juice to make sure you are buying 100% pomegranate because often it’s mixed with other fruits even if it just says pomegranate on the bottle. Note: you can also freeze it so you always have it on hand.
- The Jack Rose is a cocktail whose proportions can be tweaked to suit your tastes, whether they skew sour or sweet. I stick with a ratio of 2 parts Calvados, 1 part citrus and 1 part grenadine because my homemade grenadine has a little less sugar so I don’t need to dial it down.
- Recipes generally call for lemon juice, but some use lime. A few bartenders suggest that a 50/50 mix of the two makes for a more complex cocktail, which is what we did. Your choice of citrus will very likely have an effect on the pairing’s flavor profiles.
Jack Rose Recipe for October’s Cheese and Cocktail pairing
2 oz (60 ml) Calvados*
1/4 oz (7.5 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice**
1/4 oz (7.5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice**
½ oz (15 ml) grenadine
Stir all ingredients over ice for 15 to 20 seconds.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Optional: Garnish with a lemon zest
*Or substitute your preferred apple brandy
** or use ½ oz of whichever you prefer
If you’re here, I already know you like cocktails. But, if you want to learn more about these or other cheeses, I recommend some time on Jennifer’s blog and Instagram. And, of course we’ll keep updating with more cheese and cocktail pairings here.