Creating the Perfect Signature Cocktail
Between the sun setting earlier each day and the clocks soon turning back an hour, it’s hard to deny the holiday season’s approach. While I’m not looking forward to the snow and cold, I am excited to host and entertain family and friends. Some of you may be cringing at the thought of party planning. For those that are hosting this year, one element that can bring your menu to the next level is a signature cocktail. Add a cranberry, rosemary, jalapeno, and bourbon cocktail to your menu this holiday season for a seasonal drink that is as easy to make as it is delicious.
Cranberry, Rosemary, Jalapeno and Bourbon Cocktail
What I’m about to say may make you raise an eyebrow, but I’m not the biggest fan of whisky regarding cocktails and spirits, at least not whisky on the rocks. On its own, whisky’s flavor can be intense and one that I acquired slowly over time. However, whisky’s sweet and smoky flavor is a base that I enjoy layering with flavors.
One of my favorite layers to add is fresh cranberries. The tartness can help cut through the smoke and enhance the sweetness. Additional layers of rosemary and jalapeno harmonize with notes of pine and spice. The result is a cocktail that makes even the chilliest fall nights feel cozy. To create this cocktail, you will start with a simple syrup.
Creating a Simple Syrup
There isn’t a limit to methods of adding flavors to a cocktail, but one of the easiest ways is to create a simple syrup. To start, you will combine water and sugar as a base in a saucepot, typically a one-to-one ratio. Next, you can choose to add berries, herbs, citrus peels, spices, or more and allow the flavors to infuse. It’s no surprise simple syrups are named so, but the flavor possibilities are endless. For this recipe, you will add fresh cranberries, rosemary leaves, and jalapeno to the syrup base.
Cranberry, Rosemary, Jalapeno and Bourbon Cocktail Pairings
When planning a party with a signature cocktail, I consider how well a drink pairs with the menu. When a cocktail’s flavor is versatile, menu planning will feel seamless. A cranberry, rosemary, jalapeno, and bourbon cocktail pairs well with foods high in fat, fruity desserts, and salty flavors. A sample of pairings includes:
- Milk chocolate (the bitterness of dark chocolate doesn’t always mix well with this cocktail)
- Pies, tarts, or other pastry-based desserts with fruit fillings
- Mixed nuts
- Charcuterie boards
Combine this cocktail’s pairing diversity with its flavor, and you have a cocktail guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. Best of all, while the simple syrup steeps on its own, you can focus on other recipes.
Cranberry, Rosemary, and Jalapeno Syrup
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
- 2 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Cranberry, Rosemary, Jalapeno and Bourbon Cocktail
- 1 part cranberry, rosemary, and jalapeno syrup
- 2 parts bourbon whisky
Creating the Syrup
- Wash the cranberries, and cut them in half. Place the cranberry halves into a small bowl.
- Wash the rosemary leaves, and roughly chop the leaves. Add the chopped leaves to the cranberry halves.
- Wash the jalapeno, and cut the pepper in half. Discard the seeds and membrane, and chop the jalapeno. Add the chopped jalapeno to the cranberries and rosemary leaves, and set aside.
- In a small saucepot, add the water and sugar. Warm the syrup over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring every minute.
- Once the sugar dissolves, add the cranberry halves, rosemary leaves, and jalapeno.
- Add a tight-fitting lid to the pot. Reduce the syrup to a low simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the syrup from heat, and allow it to steep for 2 hours.
- Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve. Press any remaining syrup out of the cranberry, jalapeno, and rosemary leaves with the back of a spoon. Strain again if necessary to remove any pieces or leaves.
- Transfer the syrup to an air-tight container. Syrup can last refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Creating a Cranberry, Rosemary, and Jalapeno Bourbon Cocktail
- Add 1 part of the cranberry, rosemary, and jalapeno syrup in each cocktail glass. Add 2 parts bourbon whisky, and stir to combine. You can choose to garnish each glass with cranberries and a sprig of rosemary before serving.
- For a sweeter cocktail, you can add more syrup if you wish.
- For simple syrup storage beyond two weeks, pour the leftover syrup into an ice cube tray and freeze it! Once the syrup has frozen, you can transfer the cubes to an air-tight container for easy single servings. Simple syrup can last for up to a year when frozen.
- If you don’t have access to fresh rosemary, you can use 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried rosemary instead of 3 tablespoons fresh.
- If you prefer a milder spice level, add only one tablespoon of chopped jalapeno instead of 2. You can also add more jalapeno for a spicier drink.
- Adding a handful of frozen cranberries to each glass is a fantastic way to add a pop of color and chill a drink without watering it down with ice!