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Maple Cocktail Season

Maple Cocktail Season

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Snow, slush, freezing rain: By March, winter’s weather has lost all of its charm. But there’s an upside: maple syrup season. As we make the transition from winter to spring, over a massive swath of North America, from West Virginia to Nova Scotia, the sap is flowing.

Yet when it comes to cocktails, maple syrup is typically cast as a fall or winter ingredient. These cold-weather concoctions, including the Maple Old Fashioned, are great, but if maple syrup is a spring product, why can’t we use it immediately?

In fact, we can. It just takes a little imagination. In its fall and winter wardrobe, you find maple syrup accessorizing brown liquor — bourbon, apple brandy, etc. — with which its caramel nature works very well. But it’s actually quite versatile.

Most maple syrup cocktail recipes recommend the darker, richer, maple-ier Grade-B version. (Maple syrup is graded by its color.) Indeed, Grade B expresses itself more loudly with heavy spirits. But the lighter, elegant Grade-A syrup is also useful, as it plays nicely with lighter base spirits like vodka, gin, and even pisco. Texturally, it’s lithe and robust, as maple syrup is chock-full of minerals and antioxidants. Flavor-wise, it’s complex, with a compelling buttery richness.
To get the sap flowing in your home bar, try my Trees Cocktail, which pairs maple with another forest favorite, pine. Or my attractively red Papal Maple that matches it with Italian staples grappa and blood orange juice. And the Master Cleanse (pictured above) is a shot or short drink I created as a more enjoyable alternative to the famous regime that allows solely lemon juice, water, cayenne, and maple syrup to be consumed.

Click here for the Trees Cocktail, Papal Maple, and Master Cleanse recipes.

Jordan Mackay is a San Francisco-based writer and co-author of the James Beard Award-winning book Secrets of the Sommeliers.

This story was originally published at Maple Cocktail Season. For more stories like this join and drink better. Plus, for a limited time get How to Cocktail in 2013, a cocktail recipe book — free! Join now.

Talk about a showstopper! A stack of traditional flapjacks with butter and syrup is fabulous enough as is, but here we're taking that idea into mind-blowing dessert territory. Maple-sweetened chocolate cake batter is cooked up like pancakes into thin layers and then sand-wiched with lots of maple cream that beckons for a covert finger swipe. A few hidden slicks of bittersweet chocolate ganache add a major swoon factor to this over-the-top sweet stack.

A quick marinade infuses the salmon with sweet, herbaceous flavor and transforms it into a stunner of an entrée.

  1. Stir Maker’s Mark, syrup and bitters with ice.
  2. Strain over large ice cube in a rocks glass.
  3. Freshly grate cinnamon over your cocktail.
  4. Garnish with orange peel and cinnamon stick.

This drink is a direct descendant of the Old Fashioned, which early on was considered a morning drink, originally referred to as a “whisky cocktail.” Considered the first classic cocktail, the name change occurred when bartenders tried to improve on the original with absinthe, orange liqueurs and other ingredients. This led customers to request the “old fashioned” version. The renaming is said to have occurred at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, where the Old Fashioned remains the city’s official cocktail. Adding orange and cherry to the equation happened during Prohibition, presumably as a way of masking the whisky smell. For this reason, some purists forego the fruit.


I made this with William Wolf's pecan bourbon, TJ's organic maple syrup, Angostura bitters, two generous tangerine peels, a spoonful of water, all stirred for a good minute and poured over ice. The citrus scent pre-sip is delightful.

This was delicious. I was afraid it would be too sweet but I loved it. Used Bulleit Rye, Trader Joe Organic Bourbon Barrel Aged Syrup, 3 drops of butters. I also shook it in a cocktail shaker with the orange peel. Delish.

A favorite for entertaining. So simple to crank out a bunch and a crowd pleaser.

I have done a riff on this one, skip the bitters, reduce maple to 1/2 oz and add 1/2oz fresh squeezed lemon juice, add a twist of lemon peel. Nice acid sweet battle in each sip.

This is a great seasonal version of the old-fashioned and incredibly easy to make, but I also found this a tad on the sweet side. I followed TAFEB1949's suggestion after trying the recipe as written and upped the rye to 3 oz. I was a bit heavy handed with my dash of Angostura bitters and that seemed to help mellow the sweetness and bring out the rye flavor. I used Bulleit rye FYI.

Been making a variation of this for some time, substitute a tsp of Campari for the bitters and 3 oz. rye. Does wonders to warm you up when the wind blows off the lake.

Living in maple syrup country and having a small supply of our own home-made maple syrup every year, we never bother with simple syrup in cocktails. A little light grade A maple syrup, full strength or diluted, works in most everything from whiskey sours to gin gimlets. Grade B, or dark syrup has a stronger maple flavor and might be saved for winter warming drinks like this old fashioned, which will hit the spot tonight!

Didn't have maple syrup or an orange so tried the recipe as written with sorghum syrup and clementines. Dang - that is a tasty drink!

Nice coacktail after a long day. Agree that its a bit to the sweeter side for my taste, but with a stronger rye or bourbon, such as, cask strength, it is very goid.

Have had this memorable cocktail at a restaurant in Andersonville (Chicago neighborhood). Try with Rye and chocolate bitters - expecting some snow tonite - it is on the agenda!

There is a Canadian maple whisky from Quebec called Sortilege.Pour over ice with a twist. I don't like whisky but have to have my husband hide it otherwise I would drink it all the time!

GREAT combination! Made even better by warming the cocktail - which releases more beguiling aromas & flavors and is a better delivery of a winter cocktail anyway. Served all evening @ a New Year's cocktail party and everyone went bananas over this wonderful delight!!

I prefer my cocktails stronger and less sweet so I used 3 oz. of bourbon instead of 2. I also shook the mixture in a cocktail mixer with ice and then strained it into an old-fashioned glass with a few ice cubes. I don't have one of those trays that makes the large ice cubes. I bet this would also be great shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass. I have some cardamon bitters and I'm going to try that next time. I think the cardamon and maple might compliment one another well. We'll see.

made this exactly as written but with Wild Turkey Rye-perfect. A great Thanksgiving offering I think

Nice coctail for a rainy evening with the fire roaring. Made exactly as directed with the Rye. It gets better as the big ice chills it down. So simple. easy to make for guests and still be classy.

I love this recipe- its so simple and delicious! The maple syrup takes the place of simple syrup so there is no boiling water and sugar and waiting for it to cool before you can make your drink. I like to use smaller craft produced spirits and bitters. In this cocktail I use Redemption Rye- it has great floral and citrus notes with a wonderful mint finish and Fee Brothers "Old Fashioned" aromatic bitters. This cocktail is perfect for those crisp fall weekend tailgating parties- I batch make a bunch and throw a dozen or so ice spheres in the yeti tundra roadie cooler and everyone is happy!

I usually make mine with Scotch. They are great. Love the orange twist.

One of these before dinner brings back memories of the tradition of the cocktail hour. Just as old fashioned a ritual as this drink. . . but nice to indulge once in a while. Didn't have an orange on hand for its peel, so I altered recipe by adding a couple of drops of orange extract. I used Jack Daniel's Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey.

I've made this before I saw this recipe, and it's definitely a great combination. I use Bulleit rye whiskey, whose spicy notes work really well with the maple syrup. Instead of Angostura bitters, I will sometimes use Brooklyn Hemispherical Mission Fig Bitters, which makes for a nice combination.

Maple bourbon cocktail

Yesterday was a gray day. dark clouds covered the sky, as far as the eye could see. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of photography done, but it gave me an excuse to kick back, relax and enjoy a little quiet time.

Being the food obsessed girl that I am, I got to thinking about season ingredients and how they shape they way we cook. Bright, fresh veggies and fruits in the spring and summer.

Warm, hearty squash, soups and roasts in the fall and winter. Nature just knows what we need and crave and gives it to us.

So, perhaps I’m getting a bit sappy. I just love the changes of seasons (even to the dreaded hot summer months) because it shakes up my cooking and puts a fire under me to try new things.

One ingredient that I simply adore this time of year is maple syrup.

When fall rolls around I can’t help but slip it into every recipe that I can:

I had the thought that I would love to add a touch of the sweet, earthy syrup to a cocktail in place of simple syrup and got to searching around for maple syrup cocktails.

I was in for a treat and more inspiration than I can even begin to note. Bourbon sounded fabulous and I took some inspiration from this maple leaf cocktail from The Kitchn.

I decided to use orange juice instead of lemon juice and also added a small amount of bitters to add some depth of flavor to the drink.

The results were deep and slightly sweet with a lasting warmth from the bourbon and maple. In other words, just what you need to warm your belly on a cold night. Especially on a Friday night!

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Yuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail Recipe

This is a drink to close out the year with - simple, strong, made for winter. It's a maple leaf cocktail (typically made with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, and bourbon) with a few tweaks. I've been making them with whatever lemony-winter citrus is around. After starting with standard Eureka lemons, I branched out to Meyer lemons, and then onto yuzu, a varietal of Japanese citrus. Recently, I've been blending - the yuzu is intense, fat with seeds, on the dry side, while Meyers are more floral, with a softer flavor, positively gushing with juice.

I add salt to this drink. I mean, the absolute smallest amount of fine grain sea salt. Barely a whisper. It works nicely to balance things out, snap flavors into focus - sweet, sour, salt, bourbon base. Not sure how people are going to feel about that, but there you have it, a little secret. If you want to be more exacting than I am, grind your salt powder-fine with a mortar and pestle before proceeding. It'll incorporate more quickly into the liquids.

I hope you like this as much as I do. In general, I like the combination of lemon and maple syrup. And not just in cocktails. But, I need something to edge out the sweet depths of pure maple. Lemon, or other lemony-citrus, tends to do the job. In fact, if drinks aren't your thing, I bet you could skip the bourbon altogether here and work this into a nice dressing with the zest, some herbs, and olive oil?

A couple tips (I'll also include below): You can find yuzu at some winter farmers markets. They're also available at many Japanese grocery stores in the produce section, and they keep reasonably well refrigerated. Also, if you don't have a cocktail shaker, don't let that deter you. I don't have one, and I use a jar in it's place - use the lid to hold the ice back (you can also use a strainer). xoxo -h

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What We’re Sipping This Season: Spring Cocktail Recipes

Spring blooms and a fresh batch of Orasella cherries in our pantry, inspired this latest round of cocktail recipes, as we're always trying to improve our at-home cocktail making skills. One tip I was recently reminded of, is that a well-balanced cocktail requires three, not just two. flavor elements: 1. sweet, 2 sour 3. bitters. While most of us know how to make a drink sweet and sour, bittering agents are often overlooked.

In the recipes below, our Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup and Orasella cherries are the consistent sweetening elements, and are must haves for any aspiring at-home mixologist. We tinkered with an array of three different spirits to see how the cherries and maple syrup can bring out different flavor profiles depending upon their counterpart. From bourbon to rye to mezcal and tequila, there is a recipe below sure to speak to any cocktail enthusiast’s interests.

Maple Amaro Sour Cocktail

Amaro Averna liquor is a popular Italian bitter digestif that balances the sweetening agents of the cherries and maple syrup, along with the lemon juice for a touch of sour. Together, the elements are well-balanced, refreshing and frothy on the tongue thanks to our egg whites shaken vigorously.

  • 1.5 ounce Amaro Averna liqueur
  • .75 ounce bourbon of choice
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • .25 ounce Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup
  • .25 ounce of Orasella cherry juice
  • 1 egg white
  • Cherry for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake without ice for 10 seconds. This should create a frothy foam texture. Add ice to the shaker, shake to chill, then strain into a rocks or old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a cherry.

While some may say Manhattans are more of a cold weather drink of choice, we say Manhattans should be enjoyed year round, especially when made right. The large ice cube makes the presentation and drinking experience that much better.

  • 2 ounces Rye
  • 0.5 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 0.5 ounce Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 dashes of Bitters
  • Large ice cubes for Old Fashioned glass (our cube tray work best for the glass)
  • 3 skewered Orasella cherries for garnish

Add rye, vermouth, syrup, and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, pour over a large cube of ice in an Old Fashioned or rocks glass. Add skewered cherries for garnish.

Smokey Blackberry Smash

Like tequila, Mezcal is made from agave plants and is considered by some the more "rustic cousin of tequila" due to its smoky flavor. For those that prefer a smoother, less smoky flavor, you can easily opt for 2 ounces of tequila and omit the Mezcal. However, for those who enjoy the smoky flavors of Mezcal, this balances out the tartness and sweetness of the syrup and cherries and makes for a very unique flavor profile.

  • 1 ounces Mezcal
  • 1 ounce tequila
  • 4 Blackberries
  • 0.5 ounce Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup
  • 0.5 ounce Orasella cherry juice
  • 0.75 ounce fresh Lime juice
  • Large ice cubes for glass
  • 3 skewered Orasella cherries or blackberries for garnish

Add mezcal (or tequila), blackberries, maple syrup, cherry juice, and lime juice to the shaker. Muddle ingredients until blackberries are thoroughly macerated. Add ice and shake. Pour into a large Old Fashioned or rocks glass with large ice cubes. Garnish with skewered cherries or blackberries.

Fine bourbon has always been a proud tradition for the Van Winkle family. We don't just make it, we live it. We proudly offer a fine line of bourbon-inspired barware, premium cigars, unique gifts, quality drinking apparel and other dry goods for you and your home.

Eat Maple

Really make your next barbecue pop with this delightful sauce.

kick off the season right with this crispy, tangy, snappy slaw. It is sure to be a hit with foodies and comfort-foodies alike!

Love good food? Need something delicious for an adventurer on the go? Look no further than our Ginger Maple Granola Bars.

Make sure to make a double batch this recipe is too good not to share, yet you’ll never want to!

Yum. This is one of our favorite cold weather recipes, providing a rich, nourishing, and incredibly tasty meal.

Sweet, slightly spicy, and incredibly satisfying, you can find this granola in all of our day packs during maple season…at least until we have eaten it all!

This sweet and savory dish highlights so many unique flavors. We love it!

This recipe is the perfect blend of simple ingredients and a decadent, complex flavor. Impress your friends with this gem at your next potluck!

Just in time for Apple Season, Maple Caramel!

Rich, earthy flavors make this a favorite. If using local carrots, wait till after the first frost when the natural sweetness of the carrots really shines! If you can find Dragon carrots their unique spicy flavor compliments the ginger beautifully.


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