Hot, sticky August evenings, where everything is lazy and you move through air like syrup. These aren’t evenings built for toil, no matter how noble the effort. These evenings call for something wet, cold and particularly easy.
So sing it with me…
Let’s do the smash! The bourbon giiiiinger smash!
I read an article about how grapefruit is the under-appreciated citrus (it has no special citrus press!). But considering how often I reach for it for summertime cocktails, on the advice of any number of recipes, I figure I can’t be the only one with a growing appreciation for its own bittersweet charms. In the Salted Tarragon Greyhound, for example. Or this guy here – the (not) Knob Creek Sour Ginger.
I nicked that recipe up above, with a couple of tweaks. Now, it calls for Domaine de Canton liqueur, which (while absurdly delicious) is a pretty major investment. I had a couple of mini bottles that I picked up at Legacy, but I used them already and I haven’t seen them since. As I was just the maid of honour in a wedding and my discretionary spending is thus…limited, I was forced to improvise. I used Giffard Ginger of the Indies, which has a really nice intense ginger flavour, but lacks the sweetness of the Canton. I made up for some of that by adding about a half-ounce of honey syrup – I felt ginger syrup would gild the lily a bit, and honey syrup tastes miraculous with grapefruit. I also tried it with both the Maker’s Mark and the Basil Hayden’s, and found I preferred the former – the latter was just a bit too smooth.
What I wound up with was just the trick to deal with Vancouver’s uniquely deceptive heat. A little sweet, a little tart, a little bitter and very much like a drinkable version of those little spray bottle fan things.
- 1.25 oz of your preferred bourbon
- .75 oz of ginger liqueur (Canton, ideally, but Giffard will work)
- 2 oz good quality grapefruit juice
- .5 oz lemon juice
- .25 oz honey syrup (omit if using Canton)
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake to chill. Pour over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge, but give it a squeeze over the drink before you drop it in. Now take that drink, put a record on and sit on the balcony with your eyes half closed and your feet up. There ya go…
Today, I found raspberries. Plump, rosy, organic bits of locally grown perfection. They called to me from the produce section, “Erin! Take us home! Love us like no one else can!” What could I do?
Well, if you’re me, you take that as a sign the universe wants you to take another shot after your last disastrous attempt at the perfect Clover Club (think: egg on your face. And Alex’s. And the cat’s). But that’s a story for another day. For now, I’d just like to take a moment to focus on the reason our apartment smelled so damn lovely all day. Because if you’re in a syrup making mood, you sure as hell don’t brew just one!
First up: Raspberry
If any simple syrup can be called ‘labour intensive’, this might be it, simply because you need to wander back to the kitchen a couple of times to stir it as the raspberries break down. And then, horror of horrors, strain it through cheesecloth, which takes all of two minutes. You’ll need:
- about a pound of raspberries…you don’t need to be super specific
- 2 cups each of water and sugar
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring ’til the sugar dissolves. Add the raspberries and turn down to low, letting them simmer until they break apart – about 20-30 minutes. Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, either straight into your container or (if you’re as clumsy as I am) into a bowl first, then the bottle.
Idiot proof, delicious and perfect when you want sweetness with a bit more character than a regular or rich simple syrup. You’ll need:
- a cup of honey
- half a cup of water
Add the honey to the boiling water, stir together until the honey has ‘dissolved’ and no longer leaves tracks behind the spoon. Pour it into your container. Make delicious things.
And last: Rosemary
My brother is of the opinion that if there’s any possible way to add rosemary to a given food or drink item, Alex or I will find it and proceed to add twice the amount necessary. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but I’m a sucker for that woody, wintery aroma. It’s an olfactory happy place. You’ll need:
- a cup of water
- a cup of sugar
- 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
Combine the water and sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the rosemary to the pot, and let it simmer for a few minutes. If you want a stronger rosemary flavour, let it steep a while after taking it off the heat. Strain it through a fine mesh strainer to ensure you don’t get any twigs in your final container.
I tried ’em out in a few things, and I’ll post those here later in the week. I’m trying a couple of things off-book, so we’ll see how those turn out. Also, Alex gave me a bottle of Snap for our anniversary, so that’s all sorts of potential fun coming up. If anyone reads this, and comes up with something delicious using any of these – please share!
**Note: Most methods will tell you to cool the syrup before bottling it. Since I am both impatient and in possession of a tiny kitchen with an equally tiny refrigerator, I pour them in and then place the bottles in the freezer until they’re cool to the touch. Whatever works for you, but don’t think you’re going to ruin the mix either way.