There are so many ways to use fruit in cocktails. Muddling fresh produce may be the easiest, but you can also freeze it for use off-season. More traditional options include preserving fruit as jams, syrups, shrubs or even liqueurs. We've been busy this summer with all of nature's bounty, and we'll be sharing some of our exploits in the coming months. Today, let's talk about raspberry syrup.
Making a syrup from raspberries is easy enough. The simplest recipe follows a basic formula of one part fruit juice with one part sugar. However, we wanted to take an approach that may seem a little unorthodox. According to the Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide first published in 1862, it's better to add another step to the process. Fermenting the fruit juice for several days through natural processes (including the unrestricted growth of microbes such as yeast and bacteria) allows the fruit to break down as the juice separates from the flesh. A byproduct of letting nature to do some of the work for you is an increase in acidity as some of the sugar present in the berries is consumed. This intensifies the flavor and supposedly helps to prevent the juice from gelling.
Make Fermented Raspberry Syrup
We washed our raspberries and mashed them in the jars leaving plenty of head space, then capped the jars with paper towels to allow gasses to escape and prevent critters from going in. After 24 hours the ruby-red juice began to separate to the bottom and it was obvious we had some bubbling activity at the top. Here's the thing: There's really no telling what other creepy crawlies were living on (or in) our berries, so we only let this continue for a couple of days.
After the brief fermentation, you need to pour off the juice and strain it through a paper towel to filter out any solids. Then, measure the volume and combined the juice with an equal amount of sugar in a sauce pan and turn on the heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer the syrup for 10 minutes. This will kill any leftover microbes and allow your clean syrup to be safely bottled. The flavor is absolutely amazing, and although you can get away with simply mashing your raspberries and straining the juice immediately, we always wanted to try using this old-school method, and we are glad we did. There's definitely a welcomed potency to the flavor.
It turns out that several delicious classics call for raspberry syrup. The Clover Club (which can also be made using homemade grenadine) is a notable example as is the Blinker cocktail which we will be making soon. Here are a couple more recipes to make it worth your while:
Columbia Cocktail by Trader Vic
2 oz light rum
.75 oz raspberry syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
With the mighty Columbia River just a short trip down the Willamette from us, we couldn't pass the opportunity to try the Columbia Cocktail by Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron. in 1947, Trader Vic also wrote a Bartender's Guide, and this cocktail is featured among hundreds of others. It's not the complicated Tiki cocktail you might expect from Trader Vic, but what the Columbia lacks in complexity it makes up for in flexibility with plenty of room for additions and experimentation. This drink is very similar to the September Morn which uses grenadine instead of raspberry syrup and adds an egg white for a nice frothy experience. You could certainly take that route here with a foamy emulsion for what is essentially a raspberry rum sour.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Blushing Monk cocktail, a modern recipe from the Burrit Room at the Mystic Hotel in San Francisco, CA. A quick glance at the ingredients told us we were going to love this drink. It may not be the easiest recipe to pull together, but if you have all of the ingredients it's worth the effort.
2 oz bourbon
.5 oz Green Chartreuse
.25 oz Cynar
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz raspberry syrup
1 sprig mint
Gently muddle the mint in a mixing glass. Add the other ingredients, shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
This one has flavors that just keep going and going. We were afraid the raspberry would get lost among the herbal intensity of the Cynar and Chartreuse, but that's not the case at all. It works on so many levels.
Give these a try and experiment with raspberry syrup. Consider subbing it in something you already love that calls for simple syrup for a unique twist. You can also just add sparkling water to the syrup for a refreshing nonalcoholic raspberry soda. The options are simply wide open.
Do you have a favorite use for your raspberry syrup? Leave a comment and let us know about it!