As the weather begins to chill and the holidays are fast upon us, I start thinking fall flavors. And while I am totally on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, pumpkin spice and bourbon in a drink just doesn’t appeal to me. Time to get creative as I really wanted to make a fall bourbon cocktail that would truly scream FALL and Thanksgiving.
On a recent visit to Walt Disney World Resort I had a Smoked Turkey cocktail. This drink is a mixture of Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon, Grenadine, and Odwalla Lemonade with a hint of hickory smoke. I loved the smoky taste of the cocktail, which was a perfect complement to the bourbon. Slightly sweet, it was an excellent resort drink for relaxing after a long day at the theme parks.
Once I returned home I was obsessed with recreating a smoky bourbon cocktail incorporating some of my favorite fall flavors. I do love pumpkin spice, but maple, apples and cinnamon also make me think fall, all of which pair very well with bourbon.
First hurdle. How to recreate the smokiness of the drink. I didn’t want to use liquid smoke but did want to be able to control the level of smokiness in the cocktail. I could have used Knob Creek’s Smoked Maple Bourbon, but the smoke flavor in this bourbon is not as strong as I needed it to be. I wanted a bolder smoke flavor in my cocktail. However, this is a very good sipping bourbon, especially if you are not a fan of the harsher higher proof bourbons, and I highly recommend it for sipping on a chilly fall evening.
I decided to make a smoked maple simple syrup to use in the cocktail. Simple syrup is just equal parts water and sugar, brought to a boil until fully incorporated and reduced. Maple syrup replaces sugar in a 1 to 3/4 ratio, so I used maple syrup in place of some of the sugar. I actually use cane sugar rather than granulated sugar but either works in this recipe. I also had on hand Bourbon Barrel Foods Bourbon Smoked Sugar, a beautifully fragrant smoked sugar, which I used as part of my sugar content. Incorporating maple, smoked sugar, sugar and water to make a smoked maple simple syrup gave me the perfect ingredient for my fall cocktail.
Add muddled tart apples and some cinnamon spice, and every sip was like eating a warm slice of apple pie while sitting by a roaring fire.
THE SMOKED “MAPPLE” BOURBON COCKTAIL:
Makes (2) servings
SMOKED MAPLE SIMPLE SYRUP
Make the smoked maple simple syrup. Normally a plain simple syrup would be 1 cup of water to 1 cup of sugar. Since I wanted to make a maple smoked simple sugar, I used 1 cup of water to what would be 1 cup of sugar, but for the cup of sugar I used:
1/4 cup pure cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
1/4 cup Bourbon Barrel Foods Bourbon Smoked Sugar (or any other smoked sugar)
3 ounces maple syrup
1 cup of water
Add the above ingredients to a heavy bottom pan and bring to a boil. Let the mixture reduce by one third to one half to concentrate the flavors. Remove from the heat and let cool.
If you cannot find a smoked sugar, you can use Knob Creek’s Smoked Maple Bourbon for the 4 ounces of bourbon called for in this recipe. For the simple sugar, use 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 3 ounces maple syrup to create a maple simple sugar.
Place diced peeled apple in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle.
Add 4 ounces bourbon, 4 dashes of old fashioned bitters, and 1 ounce maple smoked simple syrup to the cocktail shaker. Add a dash or two of cinnamon spice. Fill shaker with crushed ice and shake.
Pour into two cocktail glasses over crushed ice and garnish with bourbon soaked cherries. Enjoy!
Store any left over simple syrup in a container in the refrigerator for up to one month.