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Category Archives: Cayenne-Thyme Syrup

Mexican Chocolate Toddy

At home and a little at work I’ve recently been working with chocolate in some of my drinks trying to find both a thicker desert style drink and also a hot seasonally appropriate but innovative drink that isn’t necessarily for after dinner. The following finds a happy medium between the two. After experimenting through a bottle or so and finding that chocolate for baking or eating doesn’t dissolve how I would like (it clumps and falls to the bottom, leaving an unsightly sludge of sweetness in the glass) and knowing that chocolate syrup isn’t the taste I was after I tried using some Fee Brother’s Chocolate Bitters. It worked like a charm, I had created a drink that was both chocolaty and transparent, without any unwanted sedimentation.

  • 2 oz cinnamon infused tequila*
  • .5 oz cayenne-thyme syrup
  • 6 dashes Fee Bro’s Chocolate Bitters
  • 15 drops Bitterman’s Habanero Shrub
  • 2-3 oz hot water (to taste)
  • 1 oz lightly whipped heavy cream
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Build all of this in the order posted in a steaming hot footed glass mug, with the cream floating on top of the mixture and the cinnamon as a garnish. You can let the cream fall into the mixture, rounding out the flavor more over time, or you can mix it all together in the beginning, I prefer to let it sit and watch it change over the course of drinking it.

*For cost effectiveness I used Sauza Gold, to each 750ml bottle I added 10 cinnamon sticks and let sit 4-5 days until the tequila turned a dark reddish color.

Longshanks’ Revenge

With fall coming and the first bit of chill weather in the District I figured I ought to put out a cocktail with some warmer notes:

  • 1.5 Chamomile infused Famous Grouse
  • .75 Cayenne-Thyme Syrup
  • .5 Fernet Branca
  • .5 Dry Vermouth

Build in an ice filled old fashioned glass and stir lightly or turn once in a shaker.

I have a terrible time naming drinks. My chef named this one after Edward I of England (Longshanks) and his victory over William Wallace of Scotland way back around the turn of the 14th century. After thinking about it for a bit and reading up on my history I realized it makes a lot of sense: the alliance between the French and the Scots is represented in the vermouth and Scotch, issues with the Vatican are tossed in with the Fernet Branca, and the general political and military strife can be seen as the Cayenne-thyme syrup, adding heat over time. Thank you, Eric.

A note on the Scotch: take a 750 of the Grouse (it would be a shame to use anything that one would happily sip) and add a dozen chamomile tea bags, let it sit for a half hour and remove the tea. Voila, you now have a bottle of chamomile infused Scotch and you’ve done something useful with that bottle of Famous Grouse that has been collecting dust. 

Cayenne-Thyme Syrup and the Paloma Picante

A simple Paloma is a mixture of tequila and grapefruit soda, it makes a tasty and refreshing drink, but I felt like it needed something more. I took a suggestion from Imbibe and added some lime and a pinch of salt, but it still needed (in my bitters soaked mind) something more. I made the following Cayenne-Thyme syrup to work with some gin for the last days of summer and found that it works really well, in fact better, with tequila:

  • 6 cups water
  • 10 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 oz fresh thyme

I put that on a low boil for 20 minutes and then added 4 cups of sugar and turned the heat up until it dissolved, then I strained and bottled it.

For the Paloma Picante I added some of this syrup and some orange bitters to compensate for the sweetness and ended up with a perfect end-of-summer tall drink. This drink starts off slightly bitter-sweet, with a heavy citrus kick and an herbal nose (there is neither notice of the salt nor bitters except that they really tie the flavors together and keep it from being too much or too busy) and it finishes with a mellow back of the throat heat from the cayenne:

  • 1.5 gold tequila (I used Sauza)
  • .75 cayenne-thyme syrup
  • .5 lime juice
  • 1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
  • 1 pinch salt
  • grapefruit soda
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish

Build in an empty highball with the tequila, syrup, juice, salt, and bitters. Fill with ice, then top with grapefruit soda and stir ever so lightly. Garnish with lime wedge.

A quick note on the name: in polite company paloma means dove, and paloma picante means spicy dove. In certain dialects it means something completely different, so unless you are ordering a drink you might not want to use the phrase paloma picante.

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