The aperitif Pineau des Charentes is cognac’s lesser-known cousin, a combination of fresh grape juice, or lightly fermented grape must, with un-aged cognac. While popular in its home in Western France, it has yet to develop a broad audience in the United States. Nevertheless, a handful of bars and restaurants across the country have discovered its use in cocktails. For instance, Downstairs at The Esquire Tavern in San Antonio has long praised Pineau and always has a bottle on the backbar. Bar manager Myles Worrell crafted the Raisin’ Cane at the request of a customer who had tried the Pineau des Charentes on its own, and wanted a cocktail made from it. The result was an on-the-fly concoction, but one that was good enough to stick around.
Though the Pineau des Charentes is the base of the drink, it’s bolstered with a half-ounce of rum. Rather than one from the Carribbean or South America, as it most common, Worrell uses Paranubes Oaxacan rum from Mexico. If you can’t get your hands on a bottle, the closest substitution would be a rhum agricole, as both styles are un-aged and use pure sugar cane, rather than molasses.
Amontillado sherry pairs naturally with rum and with brandy-based spirits, and has the benefit of adding a robustness and nuttiness to the cocktail without raising its alcohol content too much. Because Pineau des Charentes has a relatively low alcohol content itself, usually less than 20%, the result tastes bold and spirit-forward, but ends up with a lower proof than a traditional stirred cocktail. And it wouldn’t be a proper stirred cocktail without bitters. Rather than Angostura or a similarly familiar product, Worrell uses Xocolatl Mole bitters from Bittermens, one of the most prominent bitters company on the market.
- 2 ounces Pierre Ferrand Pineau des Charentes aperitif
- 1/2 ounce Paranubes Oaxacan rum
- 1/2 ounce El Maestro Sierra amontillado sherry
- 1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
- Garnish: grapefruit twist
Add the Pineau des Charentes aperitif, Oaxacan rum, amontillado sherry and Xocolatl mole bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Express the oil from a grapefruit peel over top.
Garnish with a grapefruit twist.