American Breakfast

Photo courtesy of haikus, some rights reserved.

A sunny Sunday morning calls for a drink redolent of summer holidays on the continent, and in particular the brightly coloured, cheek-suckingly sweet fruit juices that accompanied them.

I always avoid grapefruit juice when it is offered at hotel buffet breakfasts, but the addition of maple syrup (and bourbon) is a surefire way to temper the sharp citrus fresh juice, and brighten up even the dreariest muesli breakfast.

The American Breakfast is made as follows:

  1. Add a large measure of bourbon, half a measure of grapefruit juice (preferably pink) and half a measure of maple syrup to a shaker of ice.
  2. Shake well and double strain into an old fashioned glass over ice.
  3. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit peel.

The drink is weighted quite strongly in favour of the bourbon, with just a hint of sharpness from the fruit juice, and sweetness from the maple syrup.  This combination of two classic breakfast ingredients, and the equally common (in this house anyway) breakfast bourbon will add a colourful and refreshing splash to your summer breakfast table.

Maple Manhattan

Photo courtesy of swanksalot, some rights reserved.

Now that the weather has turned to winter again (at least here in Scotland) I can sneak in one of my autumnal favourites, the Maple Manhattan.

In a flush of enthusiasm I considered renaming this drink along the following lines:

  • Manhattan is the most populous borough of New York.
  • Most maple syrup is produced in Quebec.
  • Montreal is the largest city in Quebec, so which is the most populous arrondissement of Montreal?

Unfortunately (for the sake of nomenclature) the answer is Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce – not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue, so this drink remains the Maple Manhattan.

The secret to any good cocktail is good quality ingredients. All too often I hear people arguing that it’s ok to buy cheap gin as “we’re only going to mix it”. While it may be true that cheap gin can be more easily salvaged in a drink with premium ingredients (think an Aviation or a Negroni) than it can when consumed alone, or just with tonic, with most cocktails, the finished drink can only ever be as good as what goes in. For that reason, buy the best maple syrup you can find and proceed as follows:

  1. Add 1 1/2 measures of whiskey (bourbon or rye) to a shaker 2/3 full of ice.
  2. Add 1/2 part sweet vermouth and 1/2 dry vermouth (I’m making mine ‘perfect’ feel free to experiment with different ratios of vermouth).
  3. Add 1/2 measure of maple syrup and two dashes of your favourite bitters (aged whiskey or orange go well).
  4. Shake well and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Maple syrup and bourbon are a great combination, and the sweet maple blends well with the smoky bourbon to create an instant image of an autumnal bonfires of leaves. However, don’t let that dissuade you from making one of these as your #midweekmanhattan tonight.

There are some out there that claim the ultimate breakfast drink is a bacon-infused Maple Manhattan. All I can say to them is watch this space…

The Lemur Loosener

Photo courtesy of Eric F Savage, some rights reserved.

The Lemur is a Madagascan primate that enjoys a diet of apples, berries and, I’m told, the occasional celebratory bourbon.  Lemurs are very sociable, and a group of lemurs (is that really the best collective noun lemur-ologists can come up with?) can hold quite the birthday party.

I’ve never actually stopped to ask one, but I imagine that, when pressed, a lemur would enjoy the following concoction which I’ve decided to name the Lemur Loosener:

  1. Muddle two slices of apple in a shaker.
  2. Add a measure of bourbon, a measure of cranberry juice, a teaspoon of maple syrup and some ice.
  3. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.
  4. Add a twist of caramelised lemon oil and garnish with a slice of apple.
If you want more of an apple kick, add a measure of apple schnapps and, if you’re feeling especially experimental, frost the glass in cinnamon and sugar for some extra apple pie notes.