The Angel Face Cocktail is one of the Unforgettables on the official list of the IBA. This list somewhat represents the origin of classic cocktails that have made it onto bar menus in many parts of the world.
Ingredients of the Angel Face Cocktail
In its original version, the Angel Face is a three-ingredient cocktail. It consists of equal parts Gin, Calvados, and Apricot Brandy. Modern takes on the drink, however, like to dilute this boozy mix with a bit of water or apple juice.
Gin offers a broad spectrum of flavors, which can considerably influence the final taste of your drink. Therefore, you should pick something that compliments the fruity notes from Calvados and Apricot Brandy.
Since the Angel Face cocktail is one of the early cocktails, it makes sense to stick to a traditional type of Gin. For instance, a classic Dry Gin. -This is also recommended in the original recipe.
If you don't have a favorite, try the Rutte Dry Gin, Sipsmith London Dry Gin. It is affordable and also works a treat in many other Gin cocktails. Another good choice for the Angel Face cocktail would be, for instance, Monkey 47.
Calvados is an amber-colored Apple Brandy from Normandy, a coastal region in northern France.
Like many other alcoholic beverages, Calvados was granted an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), the French equal to the Denomination of Origin.
It can only be produced within eleven strictly defined growing areas of Normandy and has an alcohol content of 40% to 45% vol.
The flavor of Calvados is fruity. Yet, the individual tasting notes and level of sweetness strongly depend on the brand and the variety of apples used for production.
If you don't have a bottle in your home bar, buy a Chateau du Breuil Fine Calvados or a Boulard.
The term Apricot Brandy is not clearly defined. Or rather, depending on where you are from, Apricot Brandy can mean something very different.
Some don't even contain apricots but cherries, other's are based on Vodka instead of Brandy. And others again use neither apricots nor Brandy. Pretty confusing, right?
Luckily, some do contain both, like, for instance, the Giffard Abricot Du Roussillon Liqueur. So if you look for a recommendation, that would be it.
The product from Giffard has an intense apricot flavor and a pleasant sweetness at 25% ABV.
Optional water or apple juice
Traditionally, the drink is shaken with ice, leading to a slight dilution.
However, you can also stir the Angel Face to achieve a somewhat purer appearance. In this case, you can add a splash of ice-cold water. This makes up for the lack of dilution from the ice.
Alternatively, you can also use a splash of chilled apple juice to emphasize the fruity notes of the drink.
There's no standard garnish for the Angel Face. You can also serve it minimalistic without any garnish at all.
However, if you decide to go with garnish, a slice of a freshly cut apple or even an apple fan matches the ingredients beautifully. Another common option for the Angel Face would be an orange peel.
Taste of the Angel Face
The Angel Face Cocktail is neither overly sweet nor does it tend heavily toward dry or acidic. It is nicely balanced, aromatic, and fruity.
You can taste the apricot and the apple from the Calvados and the Apricot liqueur, but you also get some subtle herbal notes from the Gin.
With an overall ABV of around 30%, the Angel Face is quite a boozy drink and can handle a bit of dilution quite well. -Either from shaking or adding cold water.
By adding a bit of apple juice, the cocktail gets a little sweeter and more fruity.
History of the Angel Face Cocktail
The Angel Face Cocktail made its first appearance in Harry Craddock's famous Savoy Cocktail book, published in 1930.
Craddock had worked behind the bar at the Savoy Hotel in London. He soon became one of the most famous bartenders of the 1920s and 1930s.
The book comprises about 750 cocktail recipes. -It goes without saying Craddock himself created only a small number of these, and it seems the Angel Face was not one of them.
Most likely, the fruity cocktail had its origin in France, where Calvados was readily available. Some even suggest that another Harry, namely Harry MacElhone, invented the drink. It supposedly was in Paris, along with other classics like the Bloody Mary, the Boulevardier, etc.
The name Angel Face could reference an American gangster from the pre-prohibition area. However, nothing is documented in that regard.
Anyway, Harry Craddock was the first to write down the recipe and asked for equal parts Gin, Calvados, and Apricot Brandy. They ought to be shaken well and strained into a cocktail glass.
Yet, over the years, a different approach developed. Instead of shaking the cocktail, many prefer to prefer it stirred. -And so do we.
- 1 oz Dry Gin
- 1 oz Calvados
- 1 oz Apricot Brandy
- 1 tsp cold water optional
- Apple slices for garnish
- Add all the ingredients together with ice into your mixing glass.
- Stir long and well to cool your drink and to achieve the required dilution. Alternatively, you can add a bit of icy water instead.
- Strain your drink into your cocktail glass and garnish with an apple slice or an apple fan.