We’ve had a lovely warm October so far here in the Seattle area, but it is nonetheless getting autumnal out, with chilly nights and sudden rain showers. And there are few flavors that speak more of fall than sweet, rich, earthy maple. So we’ve spent a leisurely afternoon tasting various spirits with maple syrup and seeing what rings our bells, and lo, a couple of cocktails have come out of that. We found that it’s better to keep things pretty simple to let the maple flavor shine through, and aged spirits definitely pair better. Read on for two new cool-evening, fire-side-sitting, novel-reading type drinks to add to the repertoire.
First up, we combined Canadian whiskey with maple syrup and a touch of apple for a cocktail that’s rich, complex, and medium sweet.
- 1 1/2 oz Canadian whiskey (we used the Collingwood for extra maple notes)
- 1/2 oz apple brandy
- 1/4 oz maple syrup
- 1 dash Boker’s bitters
Stir with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an autumn leaf.
- Nose: Lily of the valley. Maple and oak wood. Praline, brown sugar, candy apple, little bit of cinnamon.
- Palate: Pastry, cinnamon, and whiskey to start, then maple and oak wood followed by a tiny hint of anise. Nice hit of sweet baked apple on the mid-palate. As it warms, it gets more of the lily of the valley floral notes on the mid-palate as well. Really full rich maple flavor from the end of the mid-palate and into the finish. Finish carries the bitter notes from the Boker’s plus some tannic barrel flavors. Very viscous, round mouth feel. More of an after dinner drink.
Next up, we went really basic with a play on an old-fashioned. The simple combination of whiskey, maple syrup, and bitters is really delightful together, and we didn’t think anything else would be additive. We went with cherries rather than a twist for the garnish so as not to add any elements that wouldn’t be adding to the sweet earthy/woody/leafy flavor profile.
- 2 1/4 oz Irish whiskey (we used the Jameson’s Black Barrel for its nice bourbon undertones.)
- 1/4 oz maple syrup
- heavy dash of maple bitters (we used the ones from Urban Moonshine)
Mix in an old fashioned glass. Add ice cubes. Garnish with brandied cherries.
- Nose: Caramel, maple, brown sugar. Strong herbal/earthy dried leaves. Slate-y mineral notes. Tiny hint of lemon peel.
- Palate: Herbal dried leaves and maple to start. Sweet, slightly smokey cereal flavor from the whiskey on the mid-palate. Slate-y mineral notes cut the sweetness. Finish moves into more herbal notes, especially dandelion from the bitters. Maple comes back to the fore moving into the aftertaste.
Both of these cocktails make a nice fall tipple after an afternoon rummaging through the farmers market, hunting mushrooms, or touring cideries*. Wherever you are and whatever the weather, we hope you break out the maple syrup and see what it brings to your cocktail experiments.
*As we did this past weekend. For those of you who live in or plan to visit WA, the Pt. Townsend cider route is well worth the investment of an afternoon 🙂