Monday, April 7, 2014

Maple Syrup Sazerac

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

The maple syrup is just started to drip from the trees here in Northwestern, New Jersey. 

That’s my favorite time to get in touch with friends of mine who tap their own maple trees.  You see, the first run- in my opinion is the best for making cocktails.  I probably won’t put this nearly clear liquid over my pancakes because it lacks the deep, woodsy smack of long boiled syrup. 

The first run should be frozen into ice cubes!

The cocktail that reminds me most of springtime is the Maple Syrup Sazerac.  Similar to the textbook version of the Sazerac only in the word, Sazerac- this concoction includes both maple water ice cubes in the glass (horrors!) and a few teaspoons of dark amber maple syrup in the recipe.

Bookers Bourbon, rolling in at something north of 130 Proof is my choice for the base spirit.  There is no messing around with Bookers.  This is strong stuff.  Everything that I read about Bookers is true.  Cask Strength means trouble in the wrong hands!  Even the company recommends cutting this bourbon whiskey with some water.  In the case of this Maple Syrup Sazerac, the water is from a maple tree!

Carpano Antica makes headway into this cocktail, but not too much, just enough to wash the
inside of the glass.  There is a haunting sweetness about Carpano.  Perhaps this elegance of herbs and wine, aged in venerable barrels gives Carpano the edge over other Italian Sweet Vermouth.  I’m certainly not going to compare Carpano with anything available on the shelf in a supermarket, alongside cooking wine.  Carpano is ultra elegant and a little bit goes a long way as your essential go/to in this Maple Syrup Sazerac.

The bitters are also of utmost importance.  I’ve grown extremely fond of the Bitter Truth Creole Bitters.  Stained a vivid orange/red color, they emulate in color the famed Peychaud’s bitters, but possess a deeper, more aromatic nose.  Watch out for your white bucks, spill some of these bitters on them and the stain will be permanent!  Bitter Truth Creole bitters come in a lovely bottle that should be at the front of your bar!

The real maple syrup element is essential.  Don’t let me catch you using a corn syrup alternative, stained hideously by caramel coloring and sweetened with chemicals that vaguely imitate maple syrup. 

This is just not done. 

First of all, you should make friends with someone who taps their own maple trees.  Trade him some of your perfectly seasoned firewood that he will burn to heat his evaporator.  He might give you a pint or two of his first run maple water.  Then, later in the season maybe he’ll give you a taste of his darker colored syrup.  Maybe, if you offered to make your friend a Maple Syrup Sazerac with Booker’s Bourbon and Carpano Antica in addition to his syrup.  Well, that would be very nice.  This drink needs dark amber syrup to become otherworldly. 

You’ll see why in the end result.

The first thing that you need to do is take the first clear run of maple sap and cut it by ½ with pure, spring water.  Freeze that precious liquid overnight in a silicone ice cube tray.  I like the 2x2 ones for this cocktail. 

The next day you will have your maple ice, all ready for the Maple Syrup Sazerac.

Maple Syrup Sazerac

There are many ways of making a Sazerac.  Some are made in the classic method with Absinthe.  This Sazerac from my twisted mind filled with seasonal flavors takes a dog-leg to the right with the addition of the ever stylish, Carpano Antica in addition to the usual Absinthe.  I use them both because this drink really takes off with the herbal depth maintained in both ingredients. 

The maple syrup in this cocktail must be what is now named Grade A, Dark Amber.  It used to be called Grade B, but the powers that be in the maple syrup world thought grading something a B meant not as good as Grade A., but I digress. Grade B, stylistically, was perfectly suited to cooking and cocktails.  It has a dark and robust flavor. Cooking Maple syrup is not dainty in any way. 

2 oz. Booker’s Bourbon
¼ oz. Artemisia-Bugnon Distillery "La Clandestine" Absinthe Superieure (for the float)
½ oz. Carpano Antica (for the wash)
½ oz. Dark Amber Maple Syrup
Six shakes Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Wash a cut crystal glass out with the Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth from Italy (pour the Carpano into a glass and wash it around, coating all interior surfaces)
Add one large cube of the maple water ice to the glass, set aside to cool down nicely

To a cocktail mixing glass add some bar ice – no more then ½ filled, please

Add the Booker’s Bourbon
Add the Dark Amber Maple Syrup
Add the Creole Bitters

Stir to cool and combine, about thirty times

Strain over the cut crystal glass with the maple water ice
Float the Absinthe over the top with a bar spoon

Serve with a long twist of lemon
Serve this to your friend who gave you the syrup- and then make one for yourself!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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