Pigeon French (Les Sablons)
Tableside with a Somm: Branch Line
Q&A: Nicole Lebedevitch of Yvonne's
Pigeon French is a drink of contradictions. The cocktail from Harvard Square’s Les Sablons is delicious enough to be drained in a minute yet complex enough to reward thoughtful, slow sips. Perhaps that inherent duality inspired the name: A “pidgin” language is a hybrid that combines features of two different tongues.
“It works on a couple different levels, moving from the language of speech into the language of ingredients,” says beverage director Jackson Cannon.
Most ingredients are French: cognac, Banane du Brésil, and orgeat. But then a very different vibe enters center stage in the form of strawberry-infused Campari.
“Somewhere between the two is the communication,” says Cannon.
Cannon makes his own orgeat but notes that home bartenders can settle for a store-bought version (he recommends the one made by Giffard)—with the caveat that those premade versions tend to be sweeter, so use a smaller amount in the recipe if you’re not DIYing.
As for the fanciful floral garnish, Cannon says that edible orchids are readily found online. Home bartenders can consider it optional, but eating the flower is a whole lot of fun.
The final step of the drink calls for “swizzling.” This can be done with a swizzle stick or a regular barspoon. Cannon advises swizzling neophytes to “imagine trying to start a fire with a stick and rope setup.” Rotate the swizzle stick in a gentle, back-and-forth motion between your hands so that it properly chills the drink without breaking down the crushed ice.
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand 1840
1 ounce Giffard Banane du Brésil
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ ounce orgeat*
¼ ounce strawberry-infused Campari**
Edible orchid, to garnish
Combine ingredients in highball glass filled with crushed ice. Swizzle until glass is frosted, 20-30 seconds. Insert straw, and garnish with orchid.
*Orgeat (yields about 3 cups)
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1 cup almonds, sliced and blanched
¼ teaspoon orange blossom water
Toast almonds in a pan on low heat, being careful not to burn. Combine water, sugar, and almonds in a separate pan and warm over medium heat for seven minutes, then remove from heat. Once mixture has cooled, add to blender and pulse until nuts are completely broken up. Transfer mixture to a sealed container and allow it to rest for 24 hours before straining into new container. Finish with a ¼ teaspoon of orange blossom water. Keep refrigerated and consume within one month.
½ quart strawberries, hulled
1 liter Campari
Muddle strawberries with ¼ of the bottle of Campari in a container until fruit is well macerated. Pour remainder of bottle into container and stir to combine. Cover container and refrigerate for 48 hours. Strain mixture back into bottle and refrigerate.