Xante is a liqueur made from 4yr aged cognac infused with sweet pear essence. The marketing is nothing short of romantic awesomeness. They promise a ménage a trois of cognac, pear, and oak. They remark about the “tender mating process” of the three components. The taste is supposed to bring “unimaginable oral pleasure.” The spirit is “like men the way women want them to be: gentle, soft, caring, romantic, smart, well built and willing to please.” The ads are full of women in diaphanous white and topless, muscled men (often in idyllic hunting scenes and in one memorable moment, shirtless men pulling a sled ridden by one lucky woman). A great part about liquor is setting the mood… and Xante surely does that.
We received a complimentary bottle for review and it arrived gift wrapped in a black box set inside of black velvet cloth. Huge presentation points; it looked like something you’d get from the Adam and Eve catalogue. It was almost a shame to open the bottle up.
After going through all of that, we felt drinking it should be nothing short of a Hollywood-style orgasm and that’s a lot of promise to live up to.
We set up our tasting to take an adventure into home-style cocktails versus the pros. After all, if one is going to buy a pear-sweetened cognac, one should do so because the experience couldn’t be replicated at home with garden variety ingredients. So, we set up alternative tries:
1) A pear-flavored vodka (about half the price of Xante) sweetened with a little agave syrup
2) A traditional VSOP cognac blended with pear syrup (from a can of pie-fruit pears)
3) The Xante
First, the pear vodka. When tasted neat, we’re sorry to report that the pear vodka with syrup was, at best, only mildly offensive. Most found the aroma nice, though some were remind of hair tonic. The sweet covered some of the bad aftertaste on the vodka. The greatest praise was that it might make a passable mixer, which is faint praise indeed. Chilling the concoction was a significant improvement but not a solution.
Second, the pear syrup and cognac. This turned out to be an even more ill-advised adventure. It might be palatable after a dozen margaritas but otherwise hard to swallow. The pear syrup did soften the taste but it trespassed on the flavor of the cognac, ruining the structure. A minority opinion didn’t like the cognac in the first place and the pear didn’t improve it. Overall, this was worse than the vodka experiment. It also didn’t bode well for the Xante… it made us wonder: what were they thinking when they came up with this in the first place? Were they besotted and bewitched by some eldritch beauty who had a lust for pears?
In any event, so much for the foreplay, on to the Xante!
The aroma was far better; the front end of the taste superior to the homegrown amateur stuff. Neat at room temperature, it’s syrupy and sweet… for some a tough swallow due to burn and flavor. Chilling improves the flavor for those who suffer overmuch from an alcohol kick. Overall, we found it a naughty spirit where it has a veneer of high class cognac but has the finish of a sloppy wet kiss from a drunk spring breaker. Highly chilled loosens up the flavor and softens the aftertaste. We can definitely recommend as a chilled shooter (for you bachelorette parties out there).
What about some cocktails? The marketing website recommends the Lennart cocktail, which calls for 2 parts Xante and 1 part fresh lime juice topped with sprite. We obliged. This is a candy drink all the way but with lots of flavor. Our group obtained wide agreement that this is a very good beach drink that can be slugged back over and over and over again with long, long swigs that you hope will never stop. Thinking it might be a little too sweet for 10 drinks in a row on the beach, we tried it with lemon instead of lime and club soda instead of sprite. This was a much milder drink that appealed to the more missionary-styled among the party. All in all, this is a great cooler-styled cocktail that would make for an arousing party particularly out of the punch bowl. We can say definitively, lemon makes a much nicer fit than the lime.
The highlight of the night was, by far, the hot Apple cocktail. It calls for 1 part Xante with 2 parts warmed apple juice with cinnamon. It was absolutely outstanding. It would go well in any party and get universal applause. Even better if you’re by yourself in a secluded cabin with a snow bunny. It is a liquid expression of apple pie eliciting a comment from one pretty young coed:
“I’m looking for the crust!”
Predictable response: “That comes in the morning.”
This is everything that vanilla ice cream and belly button shots screams out for. We are breathless, speechless, not enough praise for this particular cocktail. If you do this at the office Christmas party in a punch bowl, a naked bottom on a copy machine is metaphysical certainty.
Our final verdict is that this is an excellent mixing liqueur and very decent chilled shooter. Next time it snows buy it, warm it, and enjoy the kids 9 months later.