The Pear Tree! Fragrant Bartlett pears, backed by evergreen notes of rosemary and juniper – a cocktail that is both unique and utterly evocative of the winter holidays!
The fire is slowly dying… And, my dear, we’re still goodbying… But as long as you love me so… Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
I love this cocktail. At its North Pole center is Poire Williams, a traditional eau-de-vie (fruit brandy) made by distilling Williams pears (known as Bartletts, here in the U.S.) The brandy is un-aged and clear as melted snow [as is every spirit that comes off a still – including whisk(e)y], and smells amazingly like freshly cut pears. I’ve tried several different versions over the years, but my absolute favorite is Massenez, from France. I’m also quite fond of the Pear Brandy crafted by Clear Creek Distilling, in Oregon. It has a wonderfully fragrant nose, but just lags a tad behind the Massenez on the palate. Even so, it’s lovely stuff. Both brands also come in smaller (i.e., more affordable) half-sizes, if you’re not ready to commit to a full bottle.
We’ve had a full-size bottle of Massenez tucked away in our liquor cabinet for years, my wife & I eagerly awaiting the right moment each year to trot it out for a bit of holiday cheer.
Once you have the pear brandy, it’s time to make some rosemary simple syrup. Pinch off the tip of a rosemary sprig for each drink you think you’ll make, then set them aside for garnishes.
Bring 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Toss in a few sprigs of rosemary, about 4-5 inches in length, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the rosemary, and allow the syrup to cool. You’ll only need 1 ounce of syrup for 2 drinks, but you can keep the extra sealed in the fridge for several weeks.
Now juice some lemons – again, you’ll only need 1 ounce of fresh juice for 2 drinks.
A quick word about choosing citrus — Aside from the obvious characteristics of size and heft (the larger and heavier the better), look for roundish lemons with smooth skin (like the one on the right in the photo above) rather than bumpy and elongated (like the one on the left). Smooth skin is thinner, so you not only get significantly less of the bitter rind and more of the juicy flesh, but the juice generally tastes better too!
Now for the glasses. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of cane sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt onto a small plate. Twirl the rim of a glass against the cut face of a lemon, then invert it onto the plate, making small circular motions until it’s well coated.
Now you’re ready to get shaking. For 2 cocktails, fill a shaker 2/3 full with ice. Give the ice a quick rinse to remove any freezer burn, then add 1 ounce each of the simple syrup, lemon juice, and pear brandy. Top with 3 ounces of good dry gin, and shake vigorously for about 12 seconds, until thoroughly chilled. Pour into cocktail glasses and top the surface of each drink with a tip of rosemary.
Other cocktails you may enjoy:Print
Pear brandy with lemon, gin and rosemary simple syrup – a cocktail that is both unique, and utterly evocative of the winter holidays!
(for 2 drinks)
- 1 ounce Poire Williams (Pear Brandy – see “notes”, below)
- 1 ounce rosemary simple syrup
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 3 ounces dry gin
- Sugar-Salt (for rims)
Rosemary Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3–4 sprigs rosemary (each 4–5 inches long)
- Make the Rosemary Simple Syrup. Pinch off a small tip of rosemary for each drink, and reserve for garnishes. Bring 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add rosemary sprigs, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, discard rosemary, and allow syrup to cool completely.
- Salt the rims. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cane sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt evenly onto a small plate. Twirl the rim of a glass against the cut face of a lemon, and invert it onto the plate, making small circular motions until it’s well-coated. Repeat with the other glass.
- Fill a shaker 2/3 full with ice, and give it a quick rinse to remove any freezer burn.
- Add 1 ounce Poire Williams (Pear Brandy), 1 ounce Rosemary Simple Syrup, 1-ounce lemon juice, and 3 ounces dry gin to the shaker – then shake vigorously (about 12 seconds) until well-chilled.
- Strain into cocktail glasses, and top each drink with a tip of rosemary.
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