(Oct. 29, 11:12 a.m.) Cranberry, grapefruit, orange and lime have long dominated the landscape of mixology, but one organization is striving to change drinkers’ minds about fruit-flavored drinks and add pears to the pantheon of produce served with potent potables.

The Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest, in partnership with Westport, Conn.-based NatureSeal, has compiled “The Bartender’s Guide to Pear Cocktails” to encourage bars and restaurants to add pear and pear products to their liquor repertoires.

“It’s a new resource,” said Cristi Mather, communications manager for the pear bureau. “With the advent of new pear-flavored alcohol, including Absolut Pear, Grey Goose La Poire and pear schnapps, we saw an opportunity for pears behind the bar.”

When Absolut launched its pear-flavored vodka in 2006, the bureau partnered with the vodka company to promote pear-flavored drinks, Mather said.

“We provided decor for pear launch parties, and we offered fresh pears for garnish,” Mather said. “They provided us with the perfect vehicle for entry into the cocktail market.”

Soon the bureau found itself in a position where it needed more pear cocktails, including those made from liquors other than vodka, Mather said.

“We partnered with Imbibe magazine, whose readers are primarily professional bartenders and mixologists, but the magazine also is available off-the-rack,” Mather said. “We had a contest for the best cocktail using fresh pears.”

Pear cocktail arsenal

Open to both professionals and amateurs alike, the contest received more than 100 entries, Mather said.

The winning drink, a pear-cardamom flip, was developed by Daniel Braun, bartender at Oliver’s Twist in Seattle, and consists of pear, mint, huckleberry liqueur, pear liqueur, orange bitters, cardamom syrup, light rum, lemon juice, ginger juice and an egg white, Mather said.

The winning entry and the recipes of two runners-up were published by Imbibe, which generated such positive feedback that the bureau decided to create and distribute the bartender’s guide, Mather said.

“The next thing we knew we had a whole arsenal of pear-flavored cocktails,” Mather said. “The cocktail guide was created as a piece to mail to people and provide them with some inspiration.”

As well as the pear-cardamom flip, six other recipes were chosen to be featured in the guide. Recipes featured use many varieties of pear, depending on the preference of each individual creator, Mather said.

“We haven’t seen one particular variety works better than others,” Mather said. “The key is ripeness level. If you want to puree a ripe pear, it purees easily in the food processor. A pear that’s not as ripe is better as a garnish. We’ve seen all varieties used in cocktails.”

Entries also covered a range of alcohols, Mather said.

“We saw everything,” she said. “We saw a lot of people trying to impress using Clear Creek Pear Brandy, which is a high-end brandy made here in the Northwest. We saw some using other pear-flavored liquors, and other flavored vodkas, like vanilla. We saw some of everything — tequila, rum, gin.”

By working with a focus group, the bureau tried to address the needs of bartenders, including in the guide everything from how to make syrups with pears, to purees, to muddling with ice, and even garnishing tips, Mather said.

“Not only do we have recipes, we provide the tools that they can create their own signature drinks,” Mather said, “Which is something (bartenders) love.”

Oxidation solution

One of the major concerns the focus group had was oxidization and how to keep the pears from browning, Mather said.

“A lot of bartenders don’t know the trick of using acids, and they hadn’t heard of a product like NatureSeal, which prevents browning for a long time,” Mather said.

NatureSeal, a manufacturer of edible film coatings, was a logical partnership for the promotion, Mather said.

NatureSeal’s water-soluble vitamin-and-mineral blend helps fruits maintain their taste, texture and color after slicing, something the bartenders have been very happy with, Mather said.

While the bureau does not have specific statistics on the success of this promotion, Mather said she has seen an increase of pear use across the board.

“In my own experience, I’m definitely seeing more pear-flavored cocktails at places around the country,” she said.

Part of this could also be the fact that promotions like the cocktail guide are creating a sense of locale for pear cocktails, Mather said.

“This is about using USA pears,” she said. “This is a way to describe the locale of where these pears came from. It zooms in on where these pears come from and can describe it like a wine.”

Pear bureau, NatureSeal partner on cocktail guide
Included in “The Bartender’s Guide to Pear Cocktails” by the Pear Bureau Northwest and NatureSeal are drinks such as the Kietsu Sake Pear Margarita.