This week we’re noodling around with cinnamon syrup. It pops up from time to time as a tiki ingredient, but we’ve never done much else with it. We’re big fans of tiki, and we’ve been having a spate of unseasonably warm weather, so we thought we’d play around with this somewhat less common tiki ingredient, first in a classic tiki drink and then in something new.
There are lots of recipes for cinnamon syrup. We pulled ours from Paul Clarke’s excellent Cocktail Chronicles. The recipe is quite straight forward. Make 2:1 simple syrup. Add 3 roughly crushed cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool and strain. Easy-peasy. The result is a thick, very sweet syrup with warm, strong cinnamon flavor, though not much of the heat/bite you might associate with “cinnamon-flavored” things like Red Hots or Fireball.
Now, what to make with it? There’s the original Zombie, which is tasty, but we were on the hunt for something a little more off the beaten track. With a quick search, we found the Nui Nui. According to the Beachbum, it’s a classic Don the Beachcomber drink from 1937. Perfect!
Nui Nui (for two)
- 8 ounces crushed ice, plus more for filling the glasses
- 4 ounces amber Virgin Islands rum
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice liqueur
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend for 5 seconds. Alternatively, skip the initial amount of crushed ice and mix the liquid ingredients in a glass if you prefer it slightly less dilute (which we do). Pour into two glasses filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange peel coil.
- Nose: Brown sugar, cinnamon, lime, faint vanilla, hint of cloves and spice. Fairly light nose which is typical for a crushed ice drink.
- Palate: Vanilla, allspice and Angostura to start. Mid-palate is oaky wood, brown sugar, and cinnamon. From the mid-palate into the finish is bright, sweet-tart orange and lime. Finish into the aftertaste is cinnamon, clove and vanilla. Nice sweet-tart balance throughout.
Yum! But of course, we love to experiment on our own. After tasting the syrup straight, we both immediately gravitated to trying it with bourbon, and indeed it paired very well. But that’s kind of a gimme. What else might go well? Christa pulled out some anejo tequila. Ah, even better! The cinnamon seemed to call for some darker, richer flavors, so after tasting through various ingredients with coffee, chocolate, and spice notes we settled on the addition of chocolate bitters. Tasty, but a little shallow flavor-wise. Lime added some acid and brightness but was too astringent on its own. A little bit of orange juice rounded things out nicely, pulling the other flavors together and adding some nice tanginess of its own.
- 2 oz anejo tequila
- 3/4 oz orange juice
- 1/2 oz cinnamon syrup
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 2 dashes chocolate bitters
Shake all ingredients briefly with ice. Pour unstrained into a glass.
- Nose: Orange, lime tequila, little bit of chocolate, hint of barrel notes.
- Palate: Sweet orange and vegetal, dusty tequila notes. Mid-palate is cinnamon and chocolate (like Mexican hot chocolate, yum) underpinned by the barrel notes from the tequila. The lime acidity peaks at the end of the mid-palate, moving into a finish of limeade, cinnamon, and dusty mineral notes.
A light, fresh drink with some great flavors going on. Drinks rather easily 😉
Well, we’d have to say that cinnamon syrup is a success. We’ll definitely be making more drinks with it and adding it to our own concoctions from here on out. Maybe some kind of cinnamon sour? In any case, cheers!