Eau de vie, pluralized to eaux de vie, is a type of brandy whose name translates from French to mean “water of life.” The name comes from the fact that the distilling process was invented back in the 1800s as a way of protecting people from various diseases.
Eau de vie is different from other types of brandy because it is not brown, a color that brandy usually adopts as it is distilled in oak barrels. Producers of Eau de vie feel that distilling it in oak actually takes away from the pure fruit flavor and the freshness of the product.
How to Make Eau de vie
Most eaux de vie available is made in central European countries, including Italy and Switzerland. Manufacturers most often use pears, cherries and plums when making the spirit.
To make eau de vie, manufacturers first crush the fruit being used as the base ingredient. The mashed fruit is then inoculated with yeast and left to ferment for several weeks. After fermentation is complete, the eau de vie is aged in a steel or glass case for a few months until it is ready to be mixed with water and bottled.
Eaux de vie Types
In addition to the different fruits, eau de vie can also be made from Douglas fir buds. Douglas Fir eau de vie is made from the springtime buds and is one of the only eau de vies that has a natural color when finished.
Among the fruit varieties, raspberry eau de vie is one of the more expensive. It takes close to 100 pounds of raspberries to make one bottle, and the fermentation process can be tricky.
How to Drink Eau de vie
A small amount of eau de vie is usually served either before or after a meal in a wine glass to aid digestion. It is also often paired with dark chocolate, pastries or ice cream since its taste complements these foods the best.
Eau de vie Recipes
Eau de vie”s light flavors make it a delicious ingredient in a number of food and drink recipes. Here are some recipes that use eau de vie.
Spring Berry Champagne
Ingredients (serves six)
- 1/2 c. brandy
- 4 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 3 tbsp. framboise (raspberry) eau de vie
- 15 hulled strawberries
- 1 750-ml. bottle of chilled brut champagne.
- Stir brandy, sugar and framboise eau de vie together in a bowl.
- Slice 9 strawberries and add them to the mixture. Let this mix stand for an hour at room temperature.
- Strain the mixture and serve with a strawberry added to each glass.
Pear Chilled Champagne
- 1 tsp. pear eau de vie
- 6 oz. chilled demi-sec champagne or sparkling wine
- a few thin slices of pear.
- Fill champagne flutes about half full of eau de vie.
- Finish filling the flutes with the champagne and garnish with a slice of pear.
Spiced Red Wine
Another eau de vie cocktail is the Spiced Red Wine with Brandy and Citrus. This cocktail tastes best when served at room temperature, along with olives, almonds or crudits.
- 1/2 lemon, sliced
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 orange peel
- 1 750-ml. bottle dry red wine
- 1/2 c. framboise eau de vie
- 6 tbsp. sugar
- 6 whole cloves.
- Put the sliced orange, lemon, vanilla bean and cloves in a large jar.
- Pour the wine on top of this and cover the mix, placing it in a cool, dark place for two weeks.
- Strain wine through a few layers of cheesecloth into a new jar. Throw away any solids in the cloth.
- Add the framboise and sugar, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Cork your bottle and place in a cool, dark place to let it rest for one week.
- Serve in a wine glass.