In the limelight this week is quince syrup as our spotlight ingredient.
Charleston, South Carolina’s HERD Provisions, beverage director Jules created the Green Cabin cocktail using Laird’s Applejack, Amaro Sfumato, Dolin Rouge and a house made quince syrup. The real attention grabber is a piping of sandalwood smoke which lends a delicate, woodsy aroma. The cocktail is a creative play on the ever-so-classic Black Manhattan and a perfect wintery cocktail.
The Applejack was the obvious choice for a base liquor. Schneider describes it as, “walking a fine line between being a delicate apple Brandy, but with enough bite to substitute in a classic whisky drink. There is no alcohol in existence more American than apple brandy.” The “oddball” in the cocktail is the inclusion of Amaro Sfumato, which Schneider says is a well-rounded smoky, earthy, and indescribably unctuous spirit perfect for the occasion. Dolin rouge is a classic vermouth that needs no introduction. “It’s simply there to round out the possibly offensive flavors of the Sfumato,” he explains.
Then there’s the lovely spiced quince syrup. A relative of apples and pears, quince as a fruit is hardy, tart, and hardly edible. That is, until you cook them, which Schneider says draws out all the lovely sugars they’ve been hiding. In fact, the word marmalade derives from “marmelo the Portuguese name for this fruit. “We cook the quince down with a bit of cinnamon and clove to make the syrup for this beverage.”
We asked Jules for tips and tricks on mixing with quince.
Start with a paste: Our quince syrup is made from a pre-made paste. This is easily produced by cooking down raw quince fruit with sugar and either water or lemon juice. This method rids you of the bitterness associated with the raw fruit that is too tough and astringent to eat before cooking. We combine this paste with vanilla paste, cinnamon, and clove that gets simmered in a 1:1 simple syrup before being strained for use in cocktails.
Always cook quince: When it comes to mixing quince in cocktails, the first thing to keep in mind is never to use the raw fruit. It works beautifully as a pear substitute making it best friends with rich brown liquors like bourbon, brandy, and dark rums. Baking spices help to bring everything together, however, you can avoid these and opt for something lighter using lemon juice and an herbal liqueur like St-Germain or a nice dry curacao.
Make a syrup: A syrup or tincture is the best method for incorporating quince into your cocktails.
Seasonal flavors: The fall and winter seasons are a perfect time for mixing with quince. Since quince is so closely related to apple and pear, it would pair well with what goes with these fruits. Vanilla, cinnamon, almond, lemon, honey, cranberry, and pomegranate are natural friends with the fruit. Even a ginger, orange, or a nice dark chocolate can happily hang out with quince.
- 1 1/2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
- 1/2 oz. Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro
- 3/4 oz. Dolin Rouge Vermouth
- 1/4 oz. quince syrup*
Preparation: Chill coupe glass. Combine ingredients in a shaker, add ice, stir 20 times. Strain cocktail in couple glass. Use an edible bubble mixture in combo with a smoke gun to create smoke bubble, or just light a piece of sandalwood on fire on a plate and cover it with your coupe glass for 30 seconds after it has been chilled.
- 48 oz. water
- 10 oz. quince paste
- 3 lbs. dark brown sugar
- 4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise pods
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1/2 tsp. clove
Preparation: Toast spices in a saucepan over medium heat for 90 seconds or until fragrant. Add water, sugar, and quince paste. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer 15 minutes then remove from heat and allow to cool. Add lemon juice and stir vigorously. Strain mixture and store in fridge.