Maple Syrup Cocktails: Are They Seasonal?

Ginger Sap Sour

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

Maple Syrup Cocktails

Ginger Sap Sour 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1Published

To make the ginger syrup: Stir together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture boils, add 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger; lower heat to low and continue cooking until a syrupy consistency is achieved, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Strain through a wire-mesh sieve double-lined with damp cheese cloth into an airtight container, discarding solids. This recipe makes more than you need for one cocktail. The syrup may be stored covered in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.

ginger sap sour


  • 2 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce ginger syrup (see notes)
  • ¼ ounce real maple syrup
  • 2 dash The Bitter Truth grapefruit bitters (or other citrus bitters, optional)
  • 1 small egg white (optional)


Add the vodka, lemon juice, ginger syrup, maple syrup, bitters and egg white (if using) to cocktail shaker. Cover and vigorously “dry shake” the ingredients about 30 seconds to combine. Uncap the shaker and fill ⅔ full with medium ice cubes and shake again vigorously until frothy, at least 30 seconds. Using a Hawthorn strainer double strain the cocktail through a wire-mesh sieve into chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Allow the foam to rise to the top; serve.