A few weeks ago, the good folks at Hiram Walker sent me a bottle of their seasonal Gingerbread Liqueur, and asked me to come up with a recipe showcasing the spirit. They're asking cocktail bloggers to compete for the best cocktail recipe -- and it's flattering to be among such august company.
The gingerbread liqueur has a strong flavor, and I was happy to see that they use all-natural ingredients. I was surprised that the flavor is of gingerbread, and not simply ginger (a la Canton.) I don't know how they did it, but there was a certain undefinably bready note in there. At 30 proof, it's a little watery for my tastes, with a thin mouthfeel, but the flavor is definitely intense.
I started by thinking about gingerbread, and one of my favorite ways to have gingerbread is with a dollop of lemon curd, so I knew that lemon juice had to figure prominently in the cocktail. From that jumping-off point, a lot of experimentation followed: I tried brandy, bourbon and rye as base spirits, tried and discarded the additions of lime juice, allspice dram, and some other ingredients, and wound up shaking many, many half-size cocktails before I arrived at the below. Maple syrup seemed like an interesting idea, and I'd first seen it in a cocktail when I had a Velvet Harvest (pear eau-de-vie, apple schnapps, falernum, lemon, egg white, and tincture of clove) at Pegu Club. It adds a nice fall flavor to a drink. And when I think of other fall and winter flavors, I think of spicy, warm notes -- oranges with cloves, mulled wine or cider, mincemeat -- and that led me to using Vya vermouth, which is also spicy and complex.
Here's what I came up with:
- 1 oz. rye whiskey (I used the baby Sazerac)
- 3/4 oz. Hiram Walker Gingerbread liqueur
- 1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 oz. sweet vermouth (I used Vya, but Punt E Mes or Carpano Antica Formula would work equally well)
- 1/4 oz. maple syrup
- 1 healthy dash aromatic bitters (I used Fee's Whisky Barrel Aged, but Angostura would work just fine)
- 1 healthy dash orange bitters (I used Angostura Orange)
I need to make some more of these, especially so I can add some pictures to this post. (I've had my hands full lately, and I'll work on this.) And I'd like to try one of these with allspice dram replacing the gingerbread liqueur.
(Here's a very nice post on Cocktail Culture, which is profiling the cocktails in the competition, showcasing this drink.)