Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | November 1, 2008

Cooking Up A Storm

I’ve had a busy day today. Besides doing a trip to Ace Beverage which yielded tons of goodies, I’ve spent the day making some maraschino cherries and new flavored syrups. It’s fun just stepping up and doing these things as a way to expand what’s possible with my meager bar.

First I picked up two kinds of cherries: frozen sweet cherries and dried sour cherries. I divided the frozen cherries into two mason jars and filled one with rye, the other with bourbon. I figure they’ll provide base-appropriate choices for my Manhattans. With the dried sour cherries, I added some cinnamon and then covered them in maraschino. They’re now plumping in an air-tight container. I’m looking forward to seeing how they all turn out and what the differences between the sweet/sour cherries are.

Then I got to making some new syrups. Even though I was able to finally get a bottle of Domaine de Canton ginger liqour this week, I wanted to make some ginger syrup to have around. The DdC is great, but there will be situations where I can imagine wanting to just have a ginger syrup to mix with. Basically I just took a recipe for simple syrup and added in about 2-3 ounces of chopped ginger. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes, let it cool, strained it twice, and bottled it. Very easy.

For the cinnamon syrup I ground three cinnamon sticks and treated it more like simple syrup throughout. It came off the stove after about 2-3 minutes. I let it steep for a little over two hours, then strained it twice and put it in a bottle. Again, very easy.

Getting over the mental hurdle of having to cook up some basic ingredients has been really empowering for me. I’m not big in the kitchen and until recently would have shuddered at the thought of making simple syrup. But once I tried it and have seen how easy it is, I’m free to have fun. I haven’t done anything particularly interesting yet — though I am toying with the idea of making a honey-based ginger syrup. I also just got a recipe for a brown sugar balsamic vinegar syrup, which was used in the Haymaker Rickey at the Tabard Inn this summer. We’ll see. For now I’m having fun and keeping it simple…

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