This post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines, Regnié, Franck Cinquin, Domaine des Braves, 2014. Recipes and ideas are my own.
As we’re wrapping up Summer and starting to think about Fall, this is the time of year I start to stockpile my end of season summer fruits and veggies. And per usual, I overdo it with the produce.
For our end of summer entertaining post I thought I’d crack open a bottle of Beaujolais and show you this simple but flavorful dish you could serve up while we squeeze in the last few summer parties of the season (check the end of the post for our giveaway if you’re in need of some picnic swag!). Sometimes the perfect late summer get togethers can be as simple that: wine and a beautiful salad that showcases the bounty of the transitioning seasons.
So I decided to use one of these unique spices to come up with a drink for the Serious Eats team: sumac. Sumac is awesome by the way. It has so much going on that it’s a pretty versatile spice to have on hand. Both sweet and savory, a little bitter, a bit more sour… it really can be used in place of lemon in a lot of dishes. But, since we’re talking cocktails here, I decided that those sweet summer cherries could use a little sourness to them. That and tons of ice.
Swizzles are serious drinks with a not so serious name. They can pack a punch on the booze side, and should be treated as a sipper, not a big gulp. Also, they require special tools. To make a proper swizzle one must use a swizzle stick that comes from the swizzlestick tree. Seriously, that’s its name. You can get by with a bar spoon too, so don’t feel like you need to go buy any special equipment. Although, if you’re already planning on doing that, I’ve picked out a couple things at the end of this post.
Now, some of you are probably properly trained in the ingredients of a swizzle, so allow me some liberties here as I tell you I left out the traditional lime juice so that the tartness from the sumac shines through. There’s some falernum added to justify that though too.
For the cherry-sumac syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sumac
For the cocktail:
2 ounces demerara rum (such as El Dorado 15 year)
1 1/4 ounces cherry-sumac syrup
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum
Dried sumac, for garnish
For the syrup: Combine sugar, water, cherries, and sumac in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container, reserving cherries for garnish. The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
For the cocktail: In the bottom of a highball or pilsner glass, add rum, cherry-sumac syrup, and falernum, and fill glass with crushed ice. Throw in a couple of those reserved cherries left over from the syrup too. Using a swizzle stick or bar spoon, rapidly spin back and forth between your hands while also moving it up and down. Add more ice to fill the glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of sumac and several of the reserved cherry quarters from the syrup.
First, this is a pretty satisfying drink. The tangy sumac and cherry syrup balances the heady vanilla and spice flavors of the rum and falernum. Second, it’s not super boozy, but the rum is very much present.
Will you be seeing more crushed ice recipes on here in the coming months? Yeah, probably, so be prepared to whack that hammer.
This time it was for the folks over at Serious Eats; they enjoy a good grilled fruit drink every once in awhile. One life altering aspect of this drink, besides telling people you own and have used a bottle of cachaça, is that you get to grill cherries. I’m sure you’re reading that sentence and going… and? No, but really, have you done this before? Have you experienced these awesome morsels that have somehow gotten transformed on the grill from just yum into the intoxicatingly rich, smoky, sweet bites? Do yourself a favor and grill a bunch of these, not just for the drink, and then while you’re sipping your cocktail, pop these in your mouth. By the handful. Also, I’m grilling lime wheels, which is sorta covering up the fact that I’m still finding sad, sad limes at the store.
Oh! So let’s talk about the cachaça for a second. Cachaça is the national spirit of Brazil and is a very close cousin of rum. In fact, we could just call them siblings. The only major difference, if we’re generalizing here, is that cachaça does not have to be aged, unlike rum which needs to be aged to some degree. It’s distilled from fresh sugarcane, like rhum agricole and has that funky aspect in the flavor profile. For this recipe we’re actually using aged cachaça, so if you just can’t get your hands on that, substitute a golden rum like Flor de Caña 12 Year (I tried both versions and quite frankly, am a fan of both for this drink).
So have I piqued your interests in grilling up some fruit? Let’s have at it…
Makes two drinks!
1 nectarine, halved
1 lime, cut into 4 wheels
1/2 ounce simple syrup
4 springs lemon thyme (or regular thyme with a pinch of fresh lemon zest)
2 cups crushed ice
3 ounces aged cachaça, such as Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged
Skewer halved nectarines, lime wheels, and cherries on three skewers (with one variety of fruit per skewer) and place on a hot, oiled grill. Cook until fruit begins to bubble and char lines are visible on all sides, rotating as necessary, about 4 minutes for cherries and 8 to 10 minutes total for nectarines and limes. Remove from grill and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut nectarines into quarters.
For each drink, muddle 2 cherries, 2 lime wheels, 2 nectarine quarters, one sprig thyme, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass until nectarine is broken up. Remove lime wheels from glass. Pack 1/2 cup crushed ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces cachaça and stir gently. Pack 1/2 cup more crushed ice into glass and garnish with second thyme sprig. Repeat for second drink. Serve immediately.
The nectarine flavor really sings in this drink, and the cherries add wonderful richness. One might think these fruits would be heading you toward the overly-sweet side. But the lime, once grilled, actually takes on a slightly savory essence that only gets more earthy with the addition of lemon thyme.
After making that cherry syrup I found that I had a bag of sugary, smooshed cherries that needed some love. So I decided now was the time to start tinkering with cobblers. I’m marking this post as a good starting place, but already I’ve thought of some ways to improve upon it. Here’s a big tip: don’t go too fine with the ice. It melts too quick and you find all your cherries and liquid will start quickly plopping over the side of your dish. For presentation’s sake I made this in a shallow dish, thinking that I could mound the cherries on top, however, they all sank due to my ice crusher’s overzealous attempts to pulverize the ice and thus resulting in quickly melting ice. You would be better off to pile the ice in a collins glass and stick the fruit on top. Also, go easy with the ice! Too much and it waters your drink down too quickly.
If you follow those guidelines you’ll be on your way to enjoying this summery, refreshing cocktail. So, grab a spoon and a straw and let’s get started.
2 oz. Willet, Straight Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Spiced Cherry Syrup (recipe found here)
1/4 cup Cherries from the syrup batch (can sub out with Luxardo cherries if you’ve ditched/eaten the cherries from the syrup batch)
1 cup Crushed Ice (not too fine)
Sprig of Mint
In a shallow dish, place the cherries in the bottom (if using a Collins glass, reserve for the end). Mix whiskey and syrup with half of the crushed ice gently to combine. Pour into dish. Pack more ice on top. Slap your mint to release the oil and garnish the drink. Grate fresh cinnamon on top.
Now, here’s the fun thing about the cobbler: do you eat the fruit first? Or do you stick your straw in (go to the very bottom where the syrup, juice and whiskey have collected) and drink up? Your choice. You can even alternate if you’re not a weirdo like me and need to choose one or the other (I was that kid who only ate one food group at a time off their plate and never combined anything, occasionally this annoying trait finds its way back into my life once in a blue moon).
Enjoying this cocktail is like having a more subtle version of an icee, with alcohol. The ice tones down the heat of the whiskey and it mixes with the cherries for a sweet and lightly spiced flavor combo. This is not your convenience store cherry flavor mind you. Don’t go in thinking it’s like that or you’ll be disappointed. It’s a fresh cherry flavor, and in a way more muted. This has been enjoyed with the extreme heat we’ve been having this summer, and this has helped cool me down, sans the uber-sugary fake flavor you’d find elsewhere. Next time though I think I’ll pre-make a snowball with a hole in it to keep the ice-melting at bay.