A Bourbon Gal in Utah

cocktails, cookery & occasional domestic badassery

Archive for the category “Nightcaps”

It’s a Long Way to Tipperary

The love-child of a classic American Manhattan and the pre-Prohibition Tipperary cocktail, in this case made with Malt Whisky.

The love-child of a classic American Manhattan and the pre-Prohibition Tipperary cocktail, in this case made with Malt Whisky.

ImageWest Temple Tipperary

1.5 oz Sugar House Distillery Malt Whisky

1 vial Spiced Orange Beehive Bitters

0.5 oz green chartreuse

0.5 oz sweet vermouth

To a mixing glass, add all ingredients over ice. Stir for 50 revolutions with a long bar spoon. Strain into a coupe glass over an ice cube. Garnish copiously with narrow orange and lime zest twists.

 

The story behind the drink…

Almost a year ago, I was fiddling around with Tipperary — a WWI-era classic named after the Irish lament “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”– recipes and made a “MacHattan” cocktail for our annual St. Patrick’s Day party using Irish whiskey. It’s a combo that also works really well using a not-super-peaty Malt Whisky. The spiced orange bitters give a nice zip to the drink, with the vegetal qualities of chartreuse making for a great base note.

Note: This cocktail was featured by the talented guys at Sugar House Distillery in a recent article in The Utah Review (check it out! Lots of great stories about Utah products and producers), for which I was compensated by SHD as a writer and photographer. 

© Darby Doyle (2016), aBourbonGal.com

A Killer Vesper

A Killer Vesper

A Killer Vesper

Killer Vesper

To a bar glass filled with cracked ice add:

3 oz. gin

1 oz. vodka

0.5 oz. Lillet blanc.

Stir, stir, stir with a bar spoon for a full minute. Strain into a chilled martini or large coupe glass. Some people prefer a champagne flute. Whatever. Garnish with a long zest of ruby red grapefruit peel. Now, go kick some ass like James Bond.

I had an excellent Vesper recently at Provisions, a restaurant that opened a couple of months ago and for which I wrote a piece for my gig at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE. Their barman Giancarlo Farina makes his with a lovely lemon dust. I went for a long sexy twirl of grapefruit zest to bring out the citrusy backbone of the gin, and to punch up the floral notes of the Lillet.

The story behind my drink:

Y’all. I got so much shit done last week: wrote three articles, took and edited photos for two of ‘em, finished butchering and making three kinds of sausage from our recent waterfowl hunt, and removed all lingering remains of Christmas from the household [there are still lights outside—it’s not redneck until after January 31, right?—but that’s The Macallan’s territory of domestic upkeep. Not touching it, or I’ll end up mowing grass and running the sprinkler system this Spring]. Feeling pretty good about kickin’ ass and taking names, for real. Then, my editor at another gig gave the big thumbs down to a shitload of photos I’d done for a story [she loved the story, just not the photos. FML.], and I started feeling all “woe is meeeee,” and my self-esteem plummeted, and y’all know what I’m talking about, right? I was questioning my professional abilities and considered bankrupting myself to buy a truckload of camera equipment and editing software and all kinds of other random-ass tech to get back in the game.

And then my ever-practical hubby pointed out the obvious to me, “You can’t do everything well.” WTF? Of course I can! Damn it, no, and gah! I hate when he’s right. I really can’t. No one can do everything perfectly, at least if they’re being honest with themselves. Truth: I love writing and am usually pretty damn good at nailing a story. I make delicious eats for my family and friends, and can throw together a fan-freaking-tastic cocktail, if I do say so myself. I’m an A+ mom, much of the time, and a supportive friend. And, yeah, I’m a hack photographer for the most part; if the object is sitting still and I control the lighting—like for food or drinks—I’m competent. But I suck at taking photos in the big frame: people, landscapes, interior spaces, the big picture. I just can’t seem to make it click [heh heh]. Now, The Macallan may have been pushing the self-reflection so that we could afford a bigger truck instead of bigger camera lenses [not putting it past him], but he made his point, and I’m back on the “go me!” bandwagon after a couple of hours of mood swings. Yes, this whole manic freak-out bit happened in the space of an afternoon.

Not a Utah pour: full sized Vesper with 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet, stirred with grapefruit zest garnish.

Not a Utah pour: full sized Vesper with 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet, stirred with grapefruit zest garnish.

So, I mixed up a full version [that’d be NOT a Utah-regulated 1.5 oz pour] of the Ian Fleming classic, a Vesper, to celebrate the kick-assedness of my week and my little bout of mental health growth. I even mixed it up with booze brands I’ve gotten to know really well after writing about them: Beehive Distilling’s Jack Rabbit Gin, and Sugar House Distilling vodka.* After all James Bond occasionally ran away from a fight he couldn’t win. In the meantime, I’ll work on the photography skills and stick to my budget [of course I bought one new lens. Sheesh, I don’t have that much willpower]. Fewer lenses in my book means more cash for better booze. Screw the bigger truck.

*No, neither of these brands paid me to write about their products. I just really like their stuff.

Filthy Farmgirl – a harvest hot toddy!

The Filthy Farmgirl

The Filthy Farmgirl

I don’t know about y’all, but harvest has been dragging out forever around here, with our first hard frost just coming on just this week. Seems like we usually have snow in Salt Lake valley well before Halloween, so this Autumn has been a warm one. Instead of being able to stagger out the fruit and vegetable canning, then the hunt processing, this year’s harvest hit me all at once. I’ve been butchering the two (two!) mule deer the guys brought in from this year’s hunt, and of course bringing in all the garden veggies before frost. I have loads of tomatoes I still need to sort to ripen, and a bumper crop of tomatillos and green ‘maters I should pickle, fry, and salsa-fy verde style.

Until I get all that done, I’m going to enjoy a nice warm toddy to celebrate fall in all its glory. Hope y’all do, too.

The Filthy Farmgirl

To a heavy 5-6 oz. mug, add:

2 oz. bourbon

1 heaping Tbs.. sorghum or molasses

juice of ½ lemon

a generous pinch of smoked sea salt (I used Durango smoked salt)

a dash of cayenne pepper

Stir with a cinnamon stick until the sorghum is completely combined into the other liquids. Slowly pour in 2 oz. of hot (not boiling) water, and stir again.

 

Enjoy with a good book, and look forward to getting a sustainable manicure in another few weeks – we’ve still got plenty of pickling and sausage-making ahead!

High Desert Sage Martini

You know the smell of desert sage after a rainstorm? Yup, that. In a glass.

High Desert Sage Martini

High Desert Sage Martini

High Desert Sage Martini

2 oz. Jack Rabbit Gin

2-3 dashes celery bitters

1 dash dry vermouth [seriously, just a couple of drops]

1 sage leaf, smacked lightly between your palms

Fill a martini or coupe glass with ice, and set aside to chill. To a glass filled with ice, add all ingredients except for the sage. Stir for a full minute with a bar spoon. Dump the ice out of the serving glass, and strain the cocktail into the glass; float a spanked sage leaf on top.

This year the grand total of licensed distilleries in Utah rose to a grand total of five when Beehive Distilling opened up shop here in the SLC. I wrote a piece about it for my other gig at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, and here’s a link to that story if you want to learn more about their stuff. I’ve heard from the distillers that Jack Rabbit is trickling onto UT state liquor store shelves a few bottles at a time.

Several folks have asked me what’s my favorite cocktail made with their first release, Jack Rabbit Gin, and it’s a tie between a sage and celery bitters dry martini [above], and a cocktail made by a kickass bar man, Rich Romney, at an event I attended last weekend [they called it the “Hachi Hive,” it’s made with honey-sage syrup; “hachi” means “bee” in Japanese]. I’ll work on that recipe this week and post it as a H.O.A.G.Y. [Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?], since a few people at the event with me have been dying to make it at home. It’s that good. I’ll pester my barkeep friend and get back to you, but I know it contains St. Germain elderflower liqueur and wouldn’t it figure, every state monopoly liquor store I’ve been to in the past two weeks was totally sold out. FML. So, for now, there’s the recipe for the sage martini, and I’m also working on getting my paws on some Ransom vermouth from Portland to try out another freaking delicious orange-zapped martini made by Takashi’s hottie barman, Jonny Bonner.

If you are a gin lover who really goes for big bold juniper flavors, this gin may not be your fave, since it’s got a more subtle juniper profile than many on the market. But I don’t understand why some critics out there feel compelled to get all bowed up about what’s the “best” gin. Quite frankly, I think there are enough badass gins out there now that it’s time we start thinking of having a gin repertoire, like many folks already do for whiskey. There are enough significant flavor differences that it’s worth trying a few to figure out what you like, and in what type of drink. And as y’all know, I’m all for R&D!

Hot. Buttered. Rum.

Hot Buttered Rum.  Yeah, baby.

Hot Buttered Rum. Yeah, baby.

Baby, it’s freaking cold outside!  Well, here in the SLC it’s a balmy 21 degrees, but I’m feeling for my friends braving the Polar Vortex.  Yikes!  That’s some serious shit goin’ on, there.  Although my hot beverage of choice is usually a bourbon or rye based Hot Toddy, I do love a nice mug of Hot Buttered Rum on occasion.  Around Thanksgiving I mix up a pint jar of butter batter, and scoop it out as needed all winter long.  It’ll keep for months in the fridge, and one pint will make 20+ drinks, depending on how buttery you like your mug.  For a serving a crowd, I like to dole out individual portions of butter and rum, leaving the spoon in the mug so guests can make the buttery magic happen when we top off their serving with hot water.  You can also put the entire butter batter recipe in a crock pot with 4 cups of water and a bottle of rum (heat on low, then reduce to ‘warm’ – don’t let it come to a boil or it will cook off your alcohol!), it makes for delicious self serve ladle-ing.

For the booze component, a golden-hued barrel aged rum like Mount Gay from Barbados gives the drink a nice molasses tone, but you can use white rum if that’s what you’ve got on hand.  Spiced rum?  Gross.  If you like heavier spice than what’s in this subtle butter batter, just shave a little more nutmeg in, or a bit more cinnamon.

Hot Buttered Rum

To an 8 oz (1 cup) mug add:  1 heaping tablespoon of butter batter* and 2 oz. dark rum.  Fill the mug almost to the rim with hot water (just off the boil), and stir gently until the butter is melted and sugar dissolves.  Rub the rim of the mug with a bit of orange zest and drop the zest into the drink.  Top off the mug to the rim with more hot water, and another little grating of fresh nutmeg.

Best Butter Batter with rum

Best Butter Batter with rum

Rum Butter Batter

You want to use artificial sugar and margarine instead of butter?  Y’all are making me sad.  It’s BUTTERED rum.  Not margarine-ed rum.  Gah. 

½ cup vanilla ice cream, softened

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground ginger

A pinch each of: ground cloves, ground mace, and smoked sea salt

Butter Batter and it's best.

Butter Batter at its best.

In a bowl, smash all of the ingredients together until they are completely combined.  Transfer to a pint mason jar or other re-sealable container.  Store in the refrigerator until ready for use.

The PomeGrenade

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y!  (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?):  a pomegranate-tequila-sparkling wine cocktail

The PomeGrenade - made with Pomegranate-tequila liqueur

The PomeGrenade – made with Pomegranate-tequila liqueur

My gal Big Bold California Cab brought me back a bottle of tequila-based La Pinta Pomegranate Liqueur after her last turn-around to Mexico (she’s a flight attendant for a major airline).  She said all of the folks she worked with were raving about the stuff.  They mostly liked it on the rocks mixed with diet lemon-lime soda, or with seltzer, but they’d like to try it out in some festive cocktails.  It’s definitely a tequila-forward liqueur (38 proof – 19% ABV), with a bright ruby color and not-too-cloying sweet fruity tone that rings pretty true to pomegranate with some cranberry notes; it also has a slight citrus finish.

Well, with it being New Year’s and all, I thought it would be perfect in a champagne cocktail!  I’m in the middle of writing a piece for CityHomeCOLLECTIVE about the French 75 for my “Cocktails 101” series, so I have WWI artillery (it’s named after the eponymous 75 mm gun), and champagne on the brain already.  The old root of the word “pomegranate” comes from the French name for the fruit first cultivated in Persia; the French called it a pomme-grenade. The word “grenade”—referring to ordinance—is believed by historians to come from the Old French word that alluded to the resemblance of hand-sized bombs to the fragmented nature of the fruit within its spherical hull.  Hence, the fruity AND explosive moniker for this cocktail.  Plus, it will totally knock you on your ass after one or three.  BOOM.

So, here ya go, my flighty friends!  I’m happy to take any and all extra drinks coupons you may have laying around off y’alls hands in exchange.

The PomeGrenade

½ teaspoon superfine sugar

Juice of ¼ lime (plus a nice long twist cut from the rind)

1.5 oz. pomegranate liqueur

2 oz. sparkling wine (champagne, prosecco, or whatever you’ve got open)

To a cocktail shaker add sugar, lime, pomegranate liqueur, and 4-5 cubes ice.  Shake like crazy, and strain into a martini glass.  Fill to rim with champagne.  Garnish with a long lime twist.

Cranberry Nation

Cranberries Three Ways: in an Old-Fashioned, Sugared, and in a Cranberry-Rum ginger jam that is amazeballs instead of that jiggly canned shit served at Thanksgiving.  Trust me.  It’s also delightful stirred into rum cocktails, or into club soda with a dash of bitters for a gorgeous spritzer.

Cranberry-Clementine Old Fashioned.  Mid-century style (photo by Tristan Shepherd).

Cranberry-Clementine Old Fashioned. Mid-century style (photo by Tristan Shepherd).

My super-hip friends Fat Tire Ale and Cosmopolitan recently asked me to curate—which it seems is a fancy-schmancy word used everywhere now for ‘make shit up’ as opposed to the ‘curatorial’ work I did in museums, anyhoooo—the cocktails for a holiday party they hosted recently at their gorgeous mid-century modern house.  I was MORE than happy to do so, and even more excited about the substantial research and testing needed to get the job done.  I suffer for y’all.  Really I do.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with making a cranberry jam.  Cranberries are perfect for canning projects: they are easy to process (no peeling, seeding, etc.), take on flavor well, and already have a lot of natural pectin, which means they gel delightfully well.  As I often do, I referenced the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (ed by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine) to make sure my acid levels would be appropriate for canning to avoid the cooties.  In case you hadn’t heard:  Botulism sucks. Avoid it.  If you are a beginning canner, or just want to have pretty much The Bible of Canning on hand, THIS, my friends, is the book for you.   Here are the recipes I came up with, based very loosely on the Ball book’s Cranberry Rum Sauce.

Cranberry-Clementine Old-Fashioned

My buddy Ramos Gin Fizz and I, all fancied up.  Classic polaroid.  (photo by Cody Derrick)

My buddy Ramos Gin Fizz and I, all fancied up. Classic polaroid. (photo by Cody Derrick)

For the full story on my Old Fashioned experience, see the piece that I wrote for CityHomeCollective this week.  Apologies in advance to my in-laws: they are wonderful, talented, loving people.  They are just not-so-great bartenders.  

Rub ½ of the rim of a lowball glass with ¼ of a Clementine wedge;

dip the citrus-coated rim of the glass in turbinado sugar to coat.

To a short glass add:

juice of ¼ Clementine wedge (drop it into the glass, if you want to be like Don Draper’s daughter)

3 dashes bitters

½ tsp. cranberry jam (or cranberry sauce)

½ tsp sugar

Stir with a spoon until sugar dissolves.

Add 2 oz. bourbon

3-4 cubes ice

Top with an optional tiny baby splash of club soda.

Stir gently to combine.

Garnish with 2-3 sugared cranberries*.

Cranberry Jam with ginger and citrus.  If you have a few tablespoons left from canning, it's terrific on toast, or mixed into a rum-citrus cocktail with a little ginger beer floater.

Cranberry Jam with ginger and citrus. If you have a few tablespoons left from canning, it’s terrific on toast, or mixed into a rum-citrus cocktail with a little ginger beer floater.

Cranberry-Rum Jam with ginger and citrus

Makes nine or ten 8oz. jars

3 lg. (6”) cinnamon sticks, broken into 2” pieces

12 whole allspice berries

9 whole cloves

4 ½ cups granulated sugar

2- 2/3 cups water

12 cups fresh cranberries

3 large apples (sweet or tart, or a combo), peeled, cored, and chopped

1 ½ cups rum

2 Tbs. fresh grated ginger

Zest of 1 orange

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 envelope liquid fruit pectin

Prepare canner, jars and lids for water bath canning.

My Canning Bible.

My Canning Bible.

Make a spice bundle with a large square of cheesecloth: add cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves.

To a very large non-reactive saucepan, add sugar, water, and spice bag.  Bring to a boil, and stir constantly until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat, and boil gently for 5 minutes.

Add cranberries and apples, and return to boil.  Boil on med-low gently, stirring frequently to avoid scorching, for about 15-20 minutes, or until cranberries have burst and the apples are very tender.

Remove the spice bag, and remove pan from heat.  Add the rum to the pan.  Purée until smooth using an immersion blender (or in batches- careful!!!- in a regular blender).  Add the ginger, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.

Bring to a high boil that cannot be stirred down (as for jam), add the liquid pectin, and stir constantly to avoid scorching.  Boil hard for one minute, then remove from heat.

Ladle hot jam into jars leaving ¼” headspace.  Wipe rims, add new sterilized lids and clean rings.  Tighten to fingertip tight.

Process in boiling water bath canner for sea-level baseline 15 minutes (adjust for altitude wherever you are!).  Turn off the heat, and remove canner lid.  Let jars sit in canner 5 minutes.  Remove jars, cool, and store for up to one year.

Sugared Cranberries

To make sugared cranberries:  whisk together 1 egg white and 1 Tbs. water in a medium bowl until frothy.

Throw 1 cup cranberries in the egg-water and toss to coat; shake off the excess egg by letting it drip through your fingers.

Immediately toss the cranberries with 1 cup turbinado or sanding sugar until evenly coated.  Set out in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet to harden for 24 hours.  Store for up to one week on the cookie sheet or in a vented container (if it’s sealed tightly, the sugar will melt).

Utah Craft Beer Dinner at Finca

Dead soldiers from the 2nd Annual Utah Craft Beer Dinner

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock while trapped in a sea chest and thrown to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, you know that Utah beer makers are kickin’ some serious ass, and throwin’ down some wicked clever names at national and international brewer’s competitions.  Recently, 60 lucky folks attended the 2nd annual Utah Craft Beer Dinner, slurping up some award-winning suds alongside a table of impressively mustachioed brew masters representing four of Utah’s top breweries: Wasatch Beers, Red Rock Brewery, Uinta Brewing, and Epic Brewing.  All hosted at the ever-lovely and luscious Finca restaurant.  I was lucky enough to sit with my buddy IPA (aka Hoss on Hops), who actually knows A LOT about beer.  Hoss wrote a terrific blog review of all of the beers at the dinner, and you can read all about what a real beer aficionado thinks over there.  I thought they were all super tasty, and wonderful with the pairing menu. Yup, that just tapped out my beer knowledge (badap-bap-pssshhh).Oysters with a coriander and citrus vinaigrette

Finca (and Pago) owner Scott Evans, along with executive chef Phelix Gardner pulled out the big guns for this celebration of all things hops and yeast.  Oysters on the half shell with a playful coriander mignonette, grilled citrus salad, a rich Verduras y Castillas—that would be fall veggies in sherry cream with house-smoked bacon and pull-apart-with-butterfly-wings-succulent braised short ribs.  Duck confit Empanadas were delicious with Uinta’s Sea Legs Smoked Porter, my vote for sexiest label.  (I don’t know if they have that category at the Brewers competition, but they should).

Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter, fondled by my spectalulary tatooed buddy, Ramos Gin Fizz

Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter, fondled by my spectacularly tatooed buddy, Ramos Gin Fizz

We’d heard rumors that Finca’s massive paella pan would be pulled out for the event and weren’t disappointed.  How big is it?  Well, let’s just say we are tempted to sneak into Finca and pull it off the wall some snowy morning so we can take our whole family sledding on it, dogs included.  Or, put to it’s intended use (feckingkilljoys)  you make one bangin’ maldito Paella with house-smoked chicken, roasted local-foraged mushrooms and black garlic for six dozen of your closest friends.

Paella for 70

Paella for 70

Confirming that these guys take their final salvos seriously, Epic Brewing rounded out the meal with Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, a respectably shitface inducing 10.5% alcohol beer brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee beans and aged in High West Distillery barrels.  It’s terrific on its own, but paired with Finca’s delicate churros snuggled alongside a chocolate-stout beer dipping sauce it put us over the top.  Happily so.  I’ll be sending The Macallan with my beer shopping list to Epic’s Brewery Cold Case (at 825 South State Street – OPEN Sundays!) to go with all those holiday cookies I’ve told myself I wouldn’t eat this year.

Plum Lucky

local plums

local plums

We were on a plum glut for a while here at my tiny kitchen.  My girlfriend Pink Lady has a friend with a super-prolific plum tree and he basically gave her– and by extension, me, though I’d never met this scion of generosity before—carte blanche with his crop before the birds got ‘em all.

We’re talking plums for DAYS, friends.

Nice, small–about the size of a walnut– dark ones, which were delightfully sweet out of hand.  A large portion of the less-gorgeous specimens* I used to make a big batch of thick cocktail syrup, which I then processed in half-pint jars to keep shelf stable for the year.  I’m sharing here with y’all a small-batch recipe which will keep beautifully in your fridge (if you’ve strained it well) for 3-4 weeks.

This syrup will make you look like a cocktail rock star: the gorgeous deep purple-to-pink color practically glows in the glass, even when it’s shaken vigorously with liquor.  It pairs especially well with an English dry floral gin (think Plymouth, or Broker’s), or with vodka if you want more of the ginger notes to stand out.  It’s also very refreshing mixed with one part syrup to two parts club soda, poured over ice: a super elegant and tasty option for your friends who’d like something non-alcoholic at the party.

The Plum Lucky (makes one)

Plum-Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup and Gin
Plum-Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup and Gin

2 oz. gin

2 oz. Plum-Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup (recipe, below)

To a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice, add gin and plum syrup.  Shake the bejeezus out of it until your hands can hardly hold that shaker ‘cause they are so icy cold.  Strain into a martini glass; garnish with a cube of candied ginger pierced on a narrow skewer.

Plum Crazy- a bourbon & plum cocktail.  Thanks to The Macallan for the awesome coaster.

Plum Crazy- a bourbon & plum cocktail. Thanks to The Macallan for the awesome coaster.

Plum Crazy

2 oz. bourbon

2 oz. Plum-Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup (recipe, below)

2 oz. club soda

In a large glass filled with ice, swizzle together bourbon and plum syrup with a long spoon until well combined.  Pour in club soda and gently stir to combine.

 

 

Plum-Ginger Pink Peppercorn Cocktail Syrup (makes about a quart)

One pound plums, any color- pitted and cut into quarters

1/3 cup fresh ginger root, peeled and rough chopped

1 tsp. pink peppercorns

2 ½ cups water

1 ¾ cups granulated sugar

Plum-Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup on the stovetop.  Smells so good!

Plum-Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup on the stovetop. Smells so good!

Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan.  Bring to a low boil, and then reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer for 30 minutes or more, or until fruit is very soft and broken, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Remove from heat, uncovered, and let sit until it reaches room temperature (about an hour).  Pour initially through a mesh strainer to remove large solids.  Strain again through a double layer of cheesecloth or a jelly bag; don’t be tempted to push your liquid through the strainer or scrape the goo off the bottom (that will make your syrup cloudy- yuck!).  Store in a sealed glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator.

*You can use fruit that’s a little bruised or smooshed to make this syrup, but throw any fruit showing rotting or mold in your compost.

Cherry-Basil Syrup for Cocktails

There’s nothing quite like the tart juicy burst of a sweet, musky—and the best are almost over-ripe—cherry bursting on my tongue.  Each bite followed by the quick rip-pull of the stem from between the teeth and a never-graceful pucker to release the pit.  Fresh cherries piled in a bowl of ice are the perfect snack for a blazing mid-summer afternoon.

Leifheit didn't pay us to use this pitter.  We just think it's wonderful.

Leifheit didn’t pay us to use this pitter. We just think it’s wonderful.

Cherries have been starring in quite a few dishes in my kitchen already this summer.   My neighbor has three ancient sour-cherry trees in her yard; one day last summer we picked 16 pounds (yes, pounds!) of fruit from her trees, fighting off the birds as we went.   After my boys spent a half-hour using one-at-a-time pitters that fell apart after 50 cherries, I purchased a Leifheit Cherry Stoner.  Those clever Germans know what they are doing in the cherry processing department:  we pitted the entire mess in a little over an hour.  Best $29.95 I’ve ever spent on a plastic kitchen appliance that Alton Brown would no-doubt classify as a “uni-tasker.”

This summer we’re using both farm-stand purchased sweet cherries and sour cherries.  We’re making the usual cherry preserves, cherry jam, and cherry-rhubarb chutney.  But every year I also put up several cherry applications specific to cocktail making:  Cherry Heering (which we made in a previous post), Cherry Bounce (the Appalachian infusion of one part cherries in two parts white corn or bourbon whiskey), and I make cherry syrups and shrubs, which are classic Southern cocktail mixers.  Although I use basil in this recipe, a plain cherry syrup is just as delightful and a bit more flexible for general cocktail use.

Cherry, Basil & Pink Peppercorn Syrup.

Cherry, Basil & Pink Peppercorn Syrup.

Cherry-Basil & Pink Peppercorn Syrup 

This jewel-toned syrup is gorgeous mixed into Manhattans, or used instead of simple syrup to jazz up clear soda-based simple cocktails in the gin and vodka varieties.  See recipes, below.

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

2 cups cherries, pitted and rough-chopped

1 handful of basil leaves

1 tsp. pink peppercorns

Over medium heat, bring all ingredients to a low simmer, stirring continuously to dissolve the sugar.  Once the mixture comes to a light simmer, reduce heat to the lowest setting and let barely simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Rest for at least one and up to three hours to let flavors meld.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large non-reactive (ceramic or glass) container.  Do not be tempted to press down on the solids or scrape the bottom of the strainer — this will give you a cloudy (although still delicious) syrup!  Just let gravity do its work.  Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Basil-Cherry Bellini.  Yum!

Basil-Cherry Bellini. Yum!

Basil-Cherry Bellini

1 oz. Cherry-Basil Pink Peppercorn Syrup, strained

3 oz. chilled Prosecco

Pour cherry syrup into a chilled champagne or coupe glass.  Slowly add the Prosecco (take your time, this will fizz a lot!).  Garnish with a small basil leaf or two.  Gorgeous!

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