I’d like to talk a little about cocktail basics in this post, and what you do and don’t need to start making delicious drinks at home. It takes just a few simple, fresh, homemade ingredients to elevate your cocktails so you can start getting drunk like the sophisticated adult that you are!
I like the word spirits to describe liquor. It has a very pleasant, innocuous sound… like “I’m not drunk, I’m just spirited!”
The quality of spirits you use matters… up to a certain point. Don’t buy the cheapest thing on the shelf unless you want a drink that tastes like it was made in a trash can at a frat party. On the other hand, unless you have a refined palate or are buying an investment bottle of scotch, you don’t really need to go much higher than $20 for a single bottle. If you’re a big spender, by all mean, go for that $50 bottle of whiskey. But if you mix it with Coke I will call you an asshole to your face.
There’s really no excuse to not use fresh citrus juice. It’s significantly better tasting, produces less waste, and is healthier. There’s a reason I don’t put ounces when lemon juice is an ingredient, but instead say how many lemons to use. I would never want to encourage people to use bottled lemon juice - you’re making a cocktail, not window cleaner. As a bonus you can ask your significant other if they want to come squeeze your lemons over and over again and the joke never gets old.
La Croix rhymes with joy. Is that a coincidence?
One can usually covers two or three drinks, and it is bloody delicious.
They don’t call it simple for nothing… if you can't dissolve sugar in water then, well, this site is not for you. Here's something you might like instead.
You can jazz up simple syrup with any combination of fruit, herbs, and spices, and it's an excellent way to incorporate seasonal flavors. Plus it makes your kitchen smell delightful, just like grandma's... if she was planning on getting her buzz on tonight and binge watch Narcos.
Which brings us to the recipe! This drink is perfect for crisp fall nights - it’s got a spicy kick from the cinnamon and ginger syrup, and it’s really festive and warming.
Spiced Pear Sparkler - makes two drinks
4 oz gin
1.5 oz spiced pear syrup (below)
Juice of half a lemon
3-4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Soda water (I recommend Lemon La Croix)
Add gin, syrup, lemon juice, and bitters to a shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into two glasses and garnish with pear slices.
Spiced pear syrup
1 chopped pear, skin on (I used a red pear, which gave the syrup a nice color)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Two star anise
.5 inch knob ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
One vanilla bean (split and scraped) or ½ tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan (except vanilla extract if you are using that) and bring everything to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract if using. Cover and let steep for two hours, then strain into a bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.