Nov. 15 2013 07:14 PM

Getting creative with the amber spirit

11-20 cocktails
Frank and Amy Green preparing their San Francisco Fog
Photo by Kelly Davis

Recently, a couple of friends came up with an idea for a cocktail party: Pick a spirit—whiskey in this case—and have attendees buy a nice bottle of that spirit (in the $40 range) and use it to come up with a "signature" cocktail. Then, at the end of the night, there'd be a white-elephant-style exchange of the bottles and their remaining contents.

Folks put a lot of thought and effort into their cocktails—one couple, for instance, made smoked ice (more on that below). I wanted to do something with pumpkin and had in mind a nice, round, sweet-and-spicy pumpkin / bourbon cocktail. Caveat: I write about cocktails, I don't make 'em. I figured out a pumpkin simple syrup (white and brown sugars, water, pumpkin purée and spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and star anise—to taste) and added a dash of Bitter Truth celery bitters to counter the sweetness just a bit. 

The drink was still missing something, though, and since my trial run was two hours before the party, I didn't have time to experiment. A few days later, I spotted the Easy, Pilgrim on Saltbox's winter cocktail menu, made with Templeton Rye, a spiced-pumpkin reduction and Angostura bitters. Ah-ha! Rye's spiciness makes it a better choice than the sweeter bourbon. And a spiced pumpkin reduction! Jen Queen was kind enough to share her recipe (see below).

Even if my cocktail wasn't a complete success, here are a couple from the party that were:


San Francisco Fog by Amy and Frank Green

- 2 ounces Cyrus Noble bourbon

- 3 ounces coconut milk

- 2 ounces apple cider

- 1/2 ounce lemon-honey simple syrup

- Shake and strain over ice, garnish with
     fresh-grated nutmeg


Smoke Up Johnny by Lesley Emery and Mike Scheer

Adapted from the Smoke Signals cocktail from Laurelhurst Market in Portland

- 3 parts Wild Turkey Spiced bourbon

- 1 part Hartley & Gibsonís Amontillado sherry

- 1/2 part fresh lemon juice

- 1 part pecan simple syrup (simple syrup simmered with toasted pecans then strained)

- Stir and serve over smoked ice (made by melting ice in a smoker then refreezing it).

- Garnish with a flamed orange twist.



Spiced pumpkin reduction

 

3 cups of diced roasted pumpkin. 

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of apple juice (preferably non
      filtered)

1 cup of water 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice 

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, lower heat and simmer until reduced by half. Let cool, strain and store.


Email kellyd@sdcitybeat.com or follow her on Twitter at @citybeatkelly.

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