Fruits of their Labor: The Fruit Cordials of American Fruits

Todd Coleman

Growing up, Jason Grizzanti and his friend Jeremy Kidde spent weekends on the Warwick, New York, farm co-owned by Grizzanti's father, who had replanted a decrepit orchard with 30 varieties of apples and pears to make sparkling hard cider. In 2002, recognizing that their stellar fruit matched any used by French distillers for Calvados or poire William, Jason and Jeremy took the farm in a new direction. With the first distiller's license issued in the Hudson Valley since Prohibition, they began making spirits from their own and other New York State fruits. With its brisk apple flavors and hints of caramel and butterscotch, American Fruits Bourbon Barrel Aged Apple Liqueur, an apple brandy—fortified, fermented cider, is made for an after-dinner snifter, but it can also spike a chutney or a braise. The Bartlett Pear Liqueur—fresh Bartletts distilled into pear eau-de-vie—tastes like ripe fruit drizzled with honey. Try it chilled or spooned over poached pears. I like the sweet-meets-tart Sour Cherry Cordial served neat, but it also betters vermouth in a Manhattan. Most interesting of all is the Black Currant Cordial. For years, it was illegal to grow black currants in New York because loggers were concerned that the bushes were passing disease to their white pine trees. In 2003, when the law was struck, a farmer approached the distillers with his berries; the result tastes as rich and fresh as the best French cassis. Pour it over ice cream, make a glaze for duck, or add it to a gin sour for an old-timey bramble cocktail. (All spirits $15 for 375 ml.)