Stretching out Summer with End-of-Season Syrups and Cocktails feat. Forest Collins of 52 Martinis

A few Cocktail Ingredients October is upon us and while "autumnal" may be my favorite adjective in the English language, summer is ultimately my favorite season. I've spent the past month savoring the last of the berries and sunny days and while doing so it occurred to me that the best way to extend the summer was to preserve my favorite seasonal flavors as syrups and store them away for a rainy day.

The result of my syrup experimentation was a Rhubarb and Rosemary mix that brought together the subtle sweetness of rhubarb with the piney undertones of rosemary. The syrup quickly became a regular feature in salad dressing when added to a simple vinaigrette.

Homemade Rhubarb & Rosemary Syrup

Rhubarb and Rosemary Syrup

2- 2 1/2 cups (about 5 stalks) rhubarb, skins removed and cut into 1 in. pieces 
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
4 cups water 
2-3 large sprigs of rosemary 
 
Stir sugar into water in a medium sized pot until completely dissolved then bring to a boil. Add rhubarb and decrease heat. Let simmer and stir occasionally to break down rhubarb. After about 5 minutes add rosemary. Continue to simmer another 15-20 minutes, until rhubarb is broken down and mushy. Remove from heat and strain into a glass jar or bottle. Let cool and store in your refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Our inspirational ingredients; Blueberry and Lemon Zest Shrub & Rhubarb and Rosemary Syrup

Syrups can be used for a great many things, but let's be honest- they're probably most fun with booze. Luckily I know the go-to Parisian when it comes to cocktails and Forest Collins of 52 Martinis kindly accepted to experiment with my simple syrup and even throw her homemade Blueberry and Lemon Zest shrub into the mix. Add to that, baker extraordinaire Melanie came along for the adventure, bringing fresh-out-of-the-oven breads along with her!

Blueberry and Lemon Zest Shrub

2 1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix together blueberries, sugar and lemon zest in a sealable jar and store in fridge for at least 24 hours, shaking occasionally. After 24 hours, strain juice off the berries, getting as much liquid as you can. Mix blueberry and lemon juice with apple cider vinegar in a sealable container. Let vinegar mixture sit in the fridge for about 3 days, or until vinegar mellows to your liking. 

Ginger Beer mixer

For our first cocktail, Forest chose a base of dark rum to complement the blueberry and lemon zest shrub. Originally wanting to create a cocktail that would be served on the rocks, Forest experimented with a few different approaches while we cleansed our palette with Mel's amazing rosemary and sea salt speckled flatbread.

Our favorite ended up being a cocktail consisting of the rum and shrub shaken and served straight up with a topper of fiery ginger beer and a garnish of lemon zest. Taking it's name from a Magritte print that I keep on my desk for inspiration, we dubbed this cocktail The Fifth Season.

The final draft of The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

2 oz Dark Rum
1/2 oz Blueberry and Lemon Zest Shrub
Dash Ginger Beer
Lemon Zest
Shake rum and shrub over ice. Serve straight up, topped with ginger beer and garnished with lemon zest.

Melanie's fabulous Rosemary Honey Challah

Our second exercise in cocktail creation involved the Rhubarb and Rosemary blend. Forest chose to pair gin with the hints of rosemary in the syrup. After a dinner break of Leek Velouté accompanied by Mel's homemade rosemary honey challah we got back to work.
Forest tried this cocktail a few ways- first shaking the gin and syrup and adding a little lemon zest and then trying a version with an egg white and a dash of cinnamon bitters.
This final incarnation was our favorite, with the egg white giving more body to the coctail and the hint of cinnamon offering a little taste of autumn.  We called this calming quaff A Little R & R. 

A Little R & R after an evening of rigorous cocktail development!

A Little R & R
1 egg white
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Rhubarb and Rosemary Syrup
Dash of Cinnamon Bitters
Rosemary sprig
Shake egg white, gin, syrup, and cinnamon bitters over ice and serve straight up with rosemary sprig garnish.
All said and done, our cocktail creations ended up embodying both summer sunshine and cosy fall comforts- overall the perfect cocktails to celebrate seasonal transitions and great, autumnal things to come.
Thanks so much Forest and Melanie for a great night- looking forward to sharing more collaborations in the future!!