Eau de Vie literally translates in French to "Water of Life". Despite being derived from fruit, this subtly flavored brandy is very alcohol forward. Typically clear, and not aged in casks, some common flavors include: apple, pear, peach, fig, and yellow plum. When I lived in Toulouse, the cutest little old man living next to us had an annual release of his home made Figue Eau de Vie with figs straight out of his yard. It had an almost lavender-esque nose, strong burn in your chest, and left you with a warm tingling sensation on your scalp afterwards. My host family kept a bottle on hand for every special occasion.
You may be familiar with its aged counterpart, Calvados, which you can have a shot of with your morning coffee along "The Cider Route" in Normandy, France. Funnily enough, ordering a side of calvados with your coffee is cheaper than ordering a calvados by itself. This is because only the locals know about this, and keeping the prices down help to continue the rich cultural tradition.
During French meals, which have a considerable number of courses, if you are starting to feel full you have a digestif, or "Trou Normond".
In the US, this spirit is considerably less popular. However, there is one distillery here in Portland keeping the tradition alive and well. They even produce the rare "Pear grown in the bottle" variety, of which I got to taste from an ICE LUGE. Fan-fuckin-tastic. Now I just need to figure out how to put this on tap in my house.
"Clear Creek Distillery was founded in 1985 with a vision to use the bountiful fruits of the Pacific Northwest to create fruit-based spirits that rivaled the best of their European counterparts. Using old-world techniques and sourcing ingredients from the local orchards and fresh water springs of Mount Hood in the Oregon countryside, Clear Creek became one of the first craft distilleries in the United States."
Here are some photos from the 30th Anniversary event, where guests enjoyed craft cocktails with this tantalizing spirit. Enjoy!