When Marcel Templet left the Capital Grille last August to become bar manager at the Cooper Lounge, he established a bar program designed to feature products sourced from Colorado. This core value was easy to stick to until it came time to add a brandy cocktail to the menu, since no Colorado distillery produces brandy. Templet chose an eau-de-vie from Peach Street Distillery, made with pears grown in Colorado's Palisade region, which became the base for the Palisade Sour ($14).
See Also: Best Bartender -- Marcel Templet (2014)
Templet's Palisade Sour is made with Colorado ingredients, but it's modeled after another drink associated with a place very far from Colorado, the pisco sour, a cocktail popular in Peru. Pisco sours contain egg white, lemon or lime juice, sugar, bitters and pisco, a brandy made from grapes in the wine making regions of South America. Templet's recipe is the same, except that his features Peach Street Distillery's Colorado-made spirit as its base.
"I thought that the most usable spirit would be something along the lines of a nice light, clear brandy," Templet says. "I thought the pear eau-de-vie would be a really good fit. It's very good for mixing because it's so dry. It's very light and just has that mixable quality to it."
One of the unique things about the pisco sour and Templet's pear interpretation is egg whites which, when vigorously shaken, produce a drink with a creamy, luxurious texture.
Like the original Pisco Sour, the Palisade Sour is light and crisp. "It has the mouthwatering crispness of a good glass of wine, or the really crispy bite of a fresh pear," Templet says. He also feels that his Palisade Sour could make a great after-dinner drink -- but would also work before a meal. "I think it also works very well as an aperitif," he explains, "because it has that acid in it, so it gets your juices going. It's a drink for all occasions."
What the Palisade Sour is not, Templet says, is a dessert drink. "A lot of people think it's going to a dessert drink or some kind of candy drink," he says, "but the pear eau-de-vie is very much a dry brandy, so the only sweet comes from the sugar that's used to balance the acidity of the lemon."
Templet serves the Palisade Sour (like all cocktails at the Cooper) on a polished silver tray with a side of nuts, which is deliberately reminiscent of the way food and drinks were served to guests on trains back in the golden age of rail travel. Templet adds a few drops of black walnut bitters to the egg white foam that rises to the surface of the drink, spreading them out in a floral pattern, as a visually appealing garnish.
"So much of what the Cooper is about is the five senses," Templet explains, referring to the drink's classy presentation. The Palisade Sour is served in a coupe glass, with patterns of Victorian lace etched into the sides. "When this drink is put in front of you," Templet says, "it's very elegant It's very sensual -- you kind of eat it up with your eyes first."
Templet pairs the side of nuts to the spirit in the drink. Pistachios work will with the Palisade Sour he says, because they don't have an overpowering flavor. Other drinks get different pairings: beers get peanuts, while whiskey drinks might come with almonds.
The Cooper doesn't have a kitchen, and sources food from Stoic & Genuine on the ground floor of Union Station. Templet recommends oysters (market price), or the chilled Maine lobster cocktail (market price).
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The Palisade Sour 1.5 ounces Peach Street Distillery pear eau-de-vie .75 ounce lemon juice .75 ounce simple syrup 1 egg white Shake all of the ingredients vigorously over ice and let the liquids sit for thirty seconds before straining into a cocktail glass. Garnish with several dashes of Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters.