Once upon a time, we bought two bottles of maple-flavored whiskey. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and at least one of them was on sale for way less than the list price. We were early in our cocktail obsessions. We didn’t know better. It’s not entirely clear whether either of these uses real maple syrup. How much of it is actual whiskey is anybody’s guess. These products are super sweet and tend to take over whatever drink you put them in. For a while we made a dessert drink that we called the Tim Horton’s with equal parts maple whiskey and Bailey’s, which is good if you are in the mood for a cocktail that tastes like a maple creme-filled doughnut.
We are rarely in that mood.
So what are we to do with this stuff? The maple flavor is too strong for this to be the main ingredient in something. At the very least, it needs to be paired with something else that will mellow it a bit. Our first attempt was to mix it with some Applejack (more on that in another post). We decided on a Manhattan-style drink but with Dolin Blanc as the vermouth, hoping the vermouth would help offset the sweetness of the maple whiskey. And then we added some charred cedar bitters we made based on BTP’s recipe and some blackberry thyme shrub we put together at the end of the summer.
Almost all of those ingredients deserve their own post, and we’ll get to that one of these days. Even though the shrub and this precise style of bitters are not things most people would happen to have around, there are always workarounds for such things. The cedar bitters add a smoke, so you could substitute a splash of a particularly smokey scotch or mezcal. Instead of the shrub, try adding a splash of apple cider vinegar.
Jen didn’t care for this one, but I liked it well enough to document it anyway.
Partial to Maple
- 1 oz maple whiskey
- 1 oz Applejack
- 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
- 1 teaspoon blackberry thyme shrub
- 2 dashes charred cedar bitters
This is shaken and served up in a coupe glass.
The next idea was much more successful. We decided to mix it with regular bourbon and lemon juice to offset the sweetness. Then we added Cointreau and Luxardo to add some complexity. It is a take on a classic whiskey sour drink.
- 1 oz maple whiskey
- 1 oz bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark)
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/2 oz Cointreau
- 1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
Shaken and served in a rocks glass, as a whiskey sour would be. If you want to be fancy, add a float of red wine. If you want it sweeter, add a float of Pama or grenadine.
We want to mention one other maple cocktail that we stole from another blog. We tried to do a version of it with the maple whiskey, but it just didn’t work. We came across it because we made our own butter and therefore had some buttermilk (I know! So many stories we will have to tell you another day. Stop distracting us!) So of course, we thought “how can we use buttermilk in a cocktail?”
We found the answer at the Serious Eats blog. It is awesome as described, but we also had good luck substituting bourbon for the gin.
Buttermilk Maple Gin Flip
- 1 whole egg, separated
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce buttermilk
- 1/2 ounce maple syrup
- Fresh nutmeg
Place egg yolk in cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Seal shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Open shaker, fill with ice, and add gin, buttermilk, egg white, and maple syrup. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and strain into chilled coupe or sour glass. Grate nutmeg over top and serve.
For the uninitiated, many classic cocktails include eggs. Some, like whiskey sours, use just the white of the egg. It makes the cocktail frothier and gives it body. When the yolk is added, the drink is called a “flip.” A gin flip was a popular breakfast drink in the 19th century. It’s becoming popular in our household as well.