After three long months, I was finally able to make an authentic Picon Punch:
- 1.0 teaspoon real pomegranate grenadine
- 2.5 ounces Amer Picon
- Soda Water
- 1.0 ounce brandy
Fill a collins glass with crushed ice. Add the real pomegranate grenadine and Amer Picon. Fill with soda water. Float brandy on top.
I had a lot of issues with this drink.
The first was getting Amer Picon. The French word “Amer” is similar to the Italian “Amaro” and it is used to describe a strong, herbal flavored liqueur. Amer Picon is supposed to have a stronger orange flavor than most Amaro, and while it is called for in a number of vintage cocktails, it is very hard to get “authentic” Amer Picon. Always hard to obtain in the States, The House of Picon radically changed the recipe in the 1970s, halving the proof, and thus modern Amer Picon can’t be used for that authentic experience.
Dr. Cocktail suggests using Torani Amer. Torani is probably best known for their coffee flavoring syrups, but their Amer is a different beast. Many say that it makes a good substitute for Amer Picon, but since I can’t get either I decided to make my own using a recipe created by Jamie Boudreau.
The problem is that I really didn’t care for the drink.
First, I don’t like bitter. I like sweet and I like sour but I’m not a fan of strong bitter flavors. I like what bitters can do to a drink, like the Campari in a Boulevardier, but since the main spirit in this drink is Amer Picon, it was too bitter for me (sort of like a Campari and soda, which I can’t stomach).
Second, I wasn’t sure how to drink it. I followed the directions and then tried to just sip it, but all I got was the brandy. I stirred it briefly, and that helped. It really brought out the orange in the Amer but then I was hit with a strong, bitter aftertaste. In the book Imbibe! I learned that a lot of classic cocktails that were served with ice were also served with a straw, and that might have made the experience more enjoyable since you would first get the taste of the Amer and the grenadine, but I didn’t have one handy so I didn’t try it.
The other thing I learned is that this drink is closely associated with the Basque people, who are originally from an area between France and Spain but also have a huge presence in Bakersfield, California. If I am ever there I’d like to try one of their Picon Punch cocktails, but at the moment I am not a fan.