Cork and Knife
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An elegant Fall cocktail made with homemade pear syrup spiced with cinnamon and star anise. A garnish of fresh rosemary adds an herbal note which balances the warm, spicy sweetness.
Some people hate to see summer end. To those intrepid folks the first chilly day signals the end of everything fun; swimming in the ocean, riding with the top down, prancing in cabana wear.
Well, those people are wrong. Summer is horrible. It’s hot. It’s humid. The only good thing about summer is the tomatoes. And corn. The rest of summer can suck it. Okay fine, swimming is fun but who has time? And yes, if I had a convertible I would probably enjoy driving with the top down, but I have a Subaru and it doesn’t even have a sun roof.
Do I sound bitter? (I think the answer to that is a resounding yes). Long story short, it’s been a long, hard summer and I’m looking forward to seeing it F-off into the sunset. Buh bye, don’t let the pumpkin spiced latte hit you on the way out.
I admit this was my long and slightly psychotic way of telling you that I, Emily, am a Fall person.
I love sweaters and chilly nights and bonfires. I love root vegetables and roasting things and apple cider doughnuts. And I love pears.
This cocktail was inspired by one we had last year at a wonderful restaurant called Global Palate. Ours is quite different, light as opposed to deep and rich but I wanted to keep the gorgeous pear flavor without having to spend a lot of time and money on poaching whole pears in red wine or port.
My favorite kind of pears for this are Comice which are particularly sweet and juicy. If you can’t find them, Bartletts are also a great choice. Whatever variety you go with, choose ripe ones. When you poach pears for dessert you need them to stay intact which is why slightly under-ripe are recommended. Since these are for syrup, ripe (but not rotten) fruit are perfectly suited.
You should feel free to use your favorite mulling spices but be careful not to overwhelm the delicate flavor of the pears. A couple of cloves would be a fine substitute for the star anise but they’re strong so don’t use more than 3. Other nice additions would be fresh ginger (a couple of slices, no need to peel), black peppercorns (5 or 6), maybe a few allspice berries.
Don’t boil the pears, keep the liquid at a gentle simmer so the pears don’t break down. This will keep the liquid from becoming cloudy.
You will end up with about 1 1/2 cups of syrup which will keep in the refrigerator in a clean glass for up to a month. This is enough for 8-10 cocktails, depending on how sweet you like your drinks.
Besides the cocktail, the spiced pear syrup is delicious mixed with club soda for a non-alcoholic drink – a great option for a Fall party when you want to have an choice for non-drinkers.
It’s also fantastic with bourbon and ice (I like this combination so much, I’ll probably blog our version of a Spiced Pear Old Fashioned soon).
- 4 oz vodka
- 1½ oz Lillet Blanc
- 2-3 oz pear syrup (depending on how sweet you like your drinks)
- 1½ oz lemon juice
- 2 small sprigs rosemary
- 2 large or 3 small ripe Comice pears (or other sweet variety), chopped into 1 inch pieces (no need to peel)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise pod
- 1 three inch strip of lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
- In a small sauce pan combine water, wine, sugar, cinnamon, star anise and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer. Add the chopped pears and cook until pears are soft and the liquid becomes syrupy, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass jar. Don’t press the pears or the syrup will become cloudy. Discard the solids and chill syrup until ready to use.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine vodka, Lillet, lemon juice and pear syrup. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
- Strain into 2 cocktail glasses. Twist the rosemary sprigs a few times to release the oils and garnish each glass.