Maple syrup cocktails… in summer?
When it comes to maple syrup, most of us think of pancakes first. Or maybe waffles. But as a sweetener in cocktails, it’s typically considered a cold weather ingredient. So when it comes to maple syrup cocktails we typically see the maple drizzled into holiday punch bowls or swizzled into whiskey drinks for a little fireside sweetness.
But why? Why is it that maple syrup cocktails are so associated with winter? We eat waffles in summer. Yes we do. Besides, seasonally speaking, maple syrup is a springtime delight. In North America the transition from winter to spring is marked by the moment the sap starts flowing. Maybe I should I save my maple syrup cocktails for spring? Maybe you should only eat waffles in spring too. That’s crazy talk, right?
As you’ve probably figured out by the photo to the right, when it comes to seasonal eating I don’t consider maple syrup or maple syrup cocktails to fall into one camp or the other. In order to help maple syrup cocktails shed their winter wardrobe we need to change how we think about the ingredient just a bit.
In the cool months we typically see maple syrup cocktails paired with dark spirits, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spice. Which is certainly nice. I’ve enjoyed a touch of maple syrup in an Old Fashioned in many an apres ski sort of setting. The Maple Leaf is perhaps the most well-known of the maple syrup cocktails. Essentially this classic is a Whiskey Sour sweetened with maple syrup instead of simple syrup. It’s a very good cocktail, but I think it can be made lighter for the summer months. So I replaced the whiskey with vodka. Vodka can be a blank slate when it comes to cocktails and the perfect candidate for bolder flavors like ginger. You’ll find ginger in both the ingredients list and title of this cocktail I’m calling a Ginger Sap Sour. The sap of course is maple syrup which is used in place of simple syrup to balance out the sour element in this drink. I also think maple syrup is particularly good at balancing strong citrus flavors. GREG