One of the key elements of a good cocktail is flavor balance. For many drinks this means a balancing act between sour and sweet. When looking through recipes you’ll find that the sour component is typically some type of citrus juice and more often than not, the sweet element comes in the form of a syrup. This can be a simple syrup of just sugar and water or a more dynamic combination of flavors. If you’d like to broaden your cocktail horizons, experimenting with different cocktail syrups can be a fun, easy way to expand your cocktail repertoire. Syrups that call for exotic ingredients are endlessly more convenient to buy from the store (or the New Deal Bottle Shop wink wink) but others can be quite easily made at home. Many of these syrups call for seasonal ingredients which is why spring is such an exciting time for cocktailing. Fennel and rhubarb are some of the first to arrive on the scene (both of these make wonderful syrups) and strawberries showed up at the farmers market last weekend. If you’re interested in playing around with different syrups (both store-bought and homemade) we’ve compiled spring cocktail recipes that call for syrups that run the gamut of the flavor profile. Whether you like herbal, tart, fruity, or floral, we’ve got a drink for you.
Let’s talk fennel. Closely related to carrots, fennel is a bulbous vegetable with tiny fronds that imparts a mild anise or licorice flavor. When made into a syrup (by steeping chopped fennel in syrup for 20 minutes), it can be combined with classic culinary flavor pairings and yield fabulous springtime cocktails. Shake with blood orange, lemon, and our savory Gin No. 1 for a fun Blood Orange Fennel Fizz. Citrus and apple naturally complement fennel so you can’t go wrong with our Apples & Oranges cocktail featuring local Apple Brandy from our friends at Stone Barn Brandyworks. If vodka is more your style, you’ll love how muddled mint and fennel syrup make a perfect pair in this fantastically fresh elixir we call Mint Condition.
Rhubarb is another spring vegetable that makes a wonderful cocktail syrup. The tart, pink stalks are well-known for being made into yummy springtime desserts but they can also become a colorful cocktail ingredient. In 30 minutes you can whip up this syrup which keeps for three weeks. Just chop, simmer, strain, and combine with sugar. Think of all the cocktailing you could do!
If you’re in the mood for a tropical cocktail, a Rhubarb Daiquiri made with our Distiller’s Cut Rum is tart and refreshing and tastes as good as it looks. Or you could put a springtime spin on a bubbly classic with a Rhubarb Collins. If a gingery whiskey cocktail peaks your interest, try the Rhubarb Buckaroo. This buck variation combines New Deal Ginger Liqueur with our Bootstrap Whiskey and it is oh-so-tasty.
Strawberries have begun making an appearance at the farmers market and soon their season will be in full swing. We don’t need to tell you how delicious strawberries can be when incorporated into cocktails but we will tell you how easy it is to make this springtime syrup. Actually, we’ll show you in this short video. It’s pretty simple— just chop, simmer, strain, and combine with sugar. Since this syrup keeps for weeks, you’ll have time to try out all these different possibilities.
How about a super easy Strawberry Gin & Tonic? Or maybe a play on a strawberry lemon drop? If you prefer something a bit more boozy, we’d suggest a Strawberry Old Fashioned made with our Distiller’s Workshop Brandy. Don’t worry, its beautifully balanced and certainly not too sweet. Now, for those who love a mojito… have you tried a Strawberry Mojito? Made with our small batch Distiller’s Cut Rum? It’s so good! And if you’re a fan of Old Tom Gin, you’ll love this citrusy Kitty Collins. The only think better than one of these cocktails is two.
Interested in exploring a floral favor profile? We have a few options. If the cherry blossoms are still in bloom in your neck of the woods, you could clip some and get to work. This syrup infuses overnight but would be well worth your time if you fancy a cherry blossom gin martini. Or, you could try out the Elder Flower Cocktail Syrup we make in-house at New Deal Distillery. Elder flower on its own is quite delicate, so we’ve added lavender and rose to the blend, as well as lychee and pear for some cute, fruity notes. This syrup brings a fun, floral vibe to both original and classic cocktails and is perfect for Spring. Below are some of the recipes we love to make with this super versatile, small-batch Elder Flower cocktail syrup.
We’ve found that our Elder Flower cocktail syrup shines in sparkling cocktails, so if you’re a fan of bubbly, we’d definitely recommend giving Bubble Trouble a try. Or how about a delightfully floral lemon drop? If you give the Sweet Emotion a chance it might just be your new sugar rimmed favorite. Do you prefer a tall, fizzy drink? Perhaps you might like to give this Elder Flower Collins a whirl? Or maybe you could shake up a Dew Drop cocktail? This low abv rosé cocktail is perfect for long afternoons with friends, soaking up that Springtime sun. And for those that like a stiff drink (and New Deal Vodka), this Elder Flower Martini is for you. Aromatic with notes of citrus blossoms and stone fruit, it has a slightly bitter backbone that’s nicely balanced by the sweetness of the syrup. For another spirit-forward option, we’d suggest checking out the oh-s0-springy Elder Flower Power. We’ve tinkered with the proportions a bit to introduce more Pear Brandy into the cocktail, bringing beautiful aromas of fresh pear to forefront. Cheers to Spring!