It's sugaring-off season. As spring creeps across the maple forests of the Northeast, the sweet, watery sap is rising, ready to be tapped from the trees and boiled down to a dark, rich syrup.
So why not toast this new season with a cocktail rounded out with the deep, woodsy sweetness of maple? I recently tried out two recipes that are sure to get your sap flowing:
The first recipe, the Maple Leaf, is a variation on the Whiskey Sour. Here maple syrup subs in for simple syrup, and the amount of lemon juice is dialed back a bit, so that its tartness sits in equal proportion to the sweet:
Maple Leaf Cocktail
makes one drink
1 1/2 ounces bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
1/2 ounce pure maple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
Notes: I found this simple, 3-ingredient cocktail very tasty and refreshing. The maple paired nicely with the richness of the bourbon and gave it added depth. When first poured (see picture at the very top of the post), the drink was a little filmy on top - possibly due to sugar crystals in the older bottle of syrup I was using. Once I gave it a gentle stir in the glass, though (see pic directly below), the surface cleared.
And for the more adventurous, here's another variation - the Filibuster - made with raw egg white, a classic cocktail addition, which when shaken well, gives the drink a luxuriously frothy, meringue-y texture:
Filibuster Cocktail (adapted from Food & Wine's Cocktails 2008, from a recipe developed by Erik Adkins for the restaurant Flora in Oakland, CA)
makes one drink
1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey (I substituted bourbon)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce pure maple syrup
dash Angostura bitters
1 egg white
lemon twist (for garnish)
Place all ingredients (except for the garnish) in a cocktail shaker and shake thoroughly (Note: Keep an especially tight grip on the shaker lid as you do this. If your cocktail shaker's anything like mine, you'll find it won't make as reliably tight a seal when shaken without ice.) You should begin to feel a slight difference in the way the liquid moves in the shaker as the froth develops. Now add the ice and shake briefly again, to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Notes: A very sophisticated, well-balanced cocktail. It has a smooth texture and a complex flavor. The maple flavor doesn't stand out here as noticeably as it does in the more rustic Maple Leaf, but blends in almost seamlessly with the bitters, bourbon, and lemon.
Do you have any favorite drinks featuring maple syrup?
(Images: Nora Maynard)