Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Xante: Pear Pleasure
I recently received a sample bottle of Xante, a pear-infused Cognac liqueur, and wanted to create something with it for a holiday party. I decided that I would also like to do something with sparkling wine, and the experimentation began. It did not last long though as I found that Xante and Prosecco went very well together, creating a very simple but delicious drink.
It was a huge hit at the party, and we went through three pitchers of the cocktail, and would have gone through even more but we ran out of Prosecco. People really loved the addition of strong pear flavor to the sparkling wine. Everyone wanted to know how the cocktail was made so I was very pleased.
Xante is produced in Sweden, and was created by Richard Heinrich, master blender at the Maison Heinrich Liquoristerie Artisanale, which was established in 1894. It has been available in Europe for about 10 years or so though it has only been in the U.S. market since 2009. Xante is produced from virgin Belgian pears from a Flemish garden region north of Liege. They use a young and fruity French Cognac, produced at the Distillerie des Moisans, from grapes of the Bon Bois, Fins Bois and Petite Champagne regions. The Cognac is matured for four years in French Limousin oak, which adds a touch of vanilla. A touch of caramel is added to the liqueur too, and overall, it is made from all natural ingredients with no additives.
They have kept the sugar content to about 17%, about half lower than many other liqueurs. Plus, the alcohol content is 38%, a little lower than spirits like vodka and rum. So be careful as it is a potent drink. Xante costs about $40 for a 750ml bottle, on par with other high-end liqueurs.
Xante has a deep amber color, and its appealing aroma brings forth pear, vanilla, and hints of cinnamon. The taste is predominately fresh pear, but there is a delightful melange of underlying flavors, including vanilla, honey, caramel, cinnamon, and other spices. The pear flavors do not seem artificial, which is certainly a very good thing. It is not overly sweet and there is actually a mild bitterness on the lengthy finish. Interestingly, Xante was designed to be enjoyed as an ice-cold shot, and many European women drink it in that matter. My own preference would not be to drink it straight, but otherwise add it to a cocktail.
For any cocktail where you you like to add some pear flavor, the Xante can work. But, the pear flavor is strong so a little Xante can go along way. I added only about 2 ounces per 750ml bottle of Prosecco, and that seemed like a good ratio. The pear flavor shined forth, but did not overwhelm, though as preferences vary, you might like a different ratio. The Xante website lists other cocktails that you can try. My advice is to experiment with it, to see what you can devise on your own.
Xante is a pleasing and versatile liqueur so it earns my recommendation.