Fun fact: Within the realm of things that are good to eat and drink, you can make a syrup out of anything. At the beginning of the summer a good friend of mine who had her own snow cone business showed me some of her syrup making secrets for fresh fruit. She inspired me and now I’ve been mixing cocktails with homemade syrups them all summer long.
The beauty of making your own syrups is that they can be served in both alcoholic and virgin drinks. A little fruit syrup and soda or tonic water is a perfect hot day refresher with or without alcohol. What follows is two of my favorite syrups, how to make them and a drink idea for both of them. I hope they make your last days of summer a little sweeter and a little less bitter.
Rhubarb, as a substance, has always confused me a little. Are you sweet? Are you sour? Why are your stocks delicious but your leaves will kill me? What are you rhubarb, and why all the mystery? But I’m beginning to realize it is the complexity that makes it such a perfect component for cocktails. It complements most liquors and is an easy way to add a new, interesting note to most other fruit flavors.
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup water
1 cup fine white sugar
In a saucepan add chopped rhubarb and water and bring to a simmer, then add sugar. Boil ingredients together while stirring for 20-30 minutes.
Note: during this process the rhubarb is going to turn an awful brown-green color and you are going to think that you did something wrong along the way. Don’t fret! When you strain the syrup out of the rhubarb it will be a wonderful reddish-pink color that is much more appetizing.
Let the mixture cool then strain the syrup from the deconstructed rhubarb stalks into a Mason jar or sealable bottle. Store in the fridge.
1 oz bourbon
1 oz apricot brandy
1 oz rhubarb syrup
½ oz fresh lemon juice
Splash of port
Bitters (I used Fee Brother’s black walnut bitters)
Cocktail cherry (garnish)
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well until ice is crushed. Pour over ice in a stemless martini glass. Garnish with cherry and serve.
Lavender Lemon Syrup
The selling feature of this syrup is, like rhubarb, versatility. It is sweet, tart and floral and makes for great summer patio drinking. It mixes especially well with gin, vodka or rye but again is really versatile enough to go with anything. But the best part is in order to make this syrup you need to make lavender syrup and lemon syrup separately and then combine them, which means you can leave some on their own to try by themselves or play with the lemon to lavender ratio and customize the flavor anyway you see fit.
1 tsp culinary lavender
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
In a saucepan add sugar and water and simmer until sugar is fully dissolved. Pull off the heat and add the lavender. Allow the lavender to steep in the syrup for as long as you’d like. Strain the lavender out of the syrup through a fine strainer and store in a Mason jar or sealable bottle.
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
In a saucepan add sugar and water and simmer until sugar is fully dissolved. Turn down the heat and the lemon juice and stir until the lemon juice and syrup are fully combined.
To combine the two syrups add 1 cup lavender syrup to every 2 cups lemon syrup. Store in a Mason jar or sealable bottle.
1 oz gin (I use Ungava gin for this)
1 oz lavender lemon syrup
½ oz triple sec
½ fresh lemon juice
5 mint leaves (muddled)
Lavender sprig (garnish)
Add mint leaves and gin to a shaker. Muddle the mint leaves into the gin until they are well emulsified. Add the lavender lemon syrup, triple sec, lemon juice and ice to the shaker and shake until the ice is crushed. Strain into a highball glass over ice and top with soda water. Add the lavender sprig and serve.