Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TC Cola Syrup

Holy crap, kids.  I didn't originally plan to post about this until after the event it's being designed for, but the first batch turned out so well that I just have to get it down.  In part, that's to remember the exact formulation, but in part it's also just to brag.

The background's simple: I got asked about a month ago to provide drinks for a Halloween party themed for "nostalgia" and decided to try my hand at remixed versions of stuff that would have been slung around in Midwestern dive bars in the mid-80s (it's a young crowd).  Basic, trashy stuff, done in a really thoughtful and original way; the irony is the most delicious part.

I'll share the other drinks later, but I immediately thought of doing a rum-and-coke, since that's one of the first drinks that I came up drinking at underage house parties and shitty dive bars (this was back before I knew about real, quality cocktails).  It would certainly be popular, I thought, and a good way to use up any random spirits guests bring, but it's too easy to grab some 2-liters of Coke and call it a day.  No: I'd have to make my own "cola" syrup for mixing.

So I did, and it's awesome.  A Cuba Libre made with this stuff is killer - I know this, because I'm drinking one right now.

The following will produce just over 2 cups of finished syrup.

2 cups water (use filtered if your tap tastes weird)
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 whole nutmeg, smashed into several large pieces
15 cloves
1 tablespoon cut cinchona bark (yup, the same stuff as in tonic water)

Bring the above to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let gently simmer for about 30 minutes, swirling occasionally.  In the meantime, add the following to a sealable, heatproof vessel such as a mason jar:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon citric acid
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters

Once the spice "tea" is ready (it should have reduced to about 3/4 of its original volume, be a rich amber color, and smell incredibly aromatic) carefully pour it through a fine-mesh strainer (and a funnel, if you wish) over the dry ingredients.  Stir vigorously to combine, let stand 30 minutes to cool, cover, and shake vigorously to dissolve any remaining sugar.  Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

To dispense, combine 1 part syrup with 3-4 parts soda water to taste.  Stir, pour over ice, and spike with your liquor of choice.

Fuck and yes, kids.  I'm never buying store-bought cola for a party ever again.

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