Thursday, June 6

Mixology [it's all in the syrups]

Sometimes I feel like I just don't know enough about flavor profiles to throw things together when making cocktails. Sure, you can count on me for a booze+fruit+herb+seltzer mixer any day, but for a truly complex and satisfying drink, I need some more training.

That's why I'm so interested in experimenting more with flavored syrups. I think you can add a totally new dimension without reinventing the wheel. So your old fashioned includes simple syrup- why not try a brown sugar simple syrup and see what happens? It's a safe way to explore, since the change is slight, but noticeable.

mint simple syrup
Your basic simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar, shaken or stirred on medium heat until dissolved  You can cook it down a bit (but not to the point of caramel  like I've been known to do) for a richer syrup. Like I mentioned above, you can make this with brown sugar or cane sugar as well for a slight differentiation. I read you can add a smidge of vodka to help it last longer, since you really should only keep this for a few weeks in the fridge.

lemon zest simple syrup
I'm interested in trying a chipotle-orange syrup (add 1 chipotle and a few strips of orange peel to boiling water, let simmer for 15 minutes, strain and add the sugar) that would be good with anything whiskey based. I LOVE cardamom and lavender, both of which would make excellent simple syrups. Most herbal syrups are made the same way: place the herb or spice in the water, boil the water, add the sugar, stir to dissolve, remove from heat, cover, let cool, strain, store in fridge. Too easy!

vanilla spice simple syrup
Like fruits? I really like this article on making shrubs (sugar+fruit+an acid). Typically you make shrubs similarly to the methods above, but this article describes a way to cold-brew your shrubs, which apparently makes the fruit flavor brighter and fresher, though it takes more time. Basically, you mix equal parts sugar and fruit in a bowl, and let it sit in the fridge for a few days. The sugar pulls juices out of the fruit, and you mix that strained liquid with vinegar. Voila. 

berry simple syrup
Try these in iced tea or seltzers as well for all you teetotalers out there. What has your experience been with simple syrups?

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how you like dem apples?