There’s a perfume that accompanies the holidays. All Thursday long, the irresistible aroma of butter and bird skin wafting from the oven. The crusty stuffing arrives at the table with the alluring beckoning of sage. The cranberries are dressed with zesty orange. For me, the scent that tells me it’s the season for family gatherings, long dark nights filled with laughter and food is cardamom and coffee.
Every family has the dish they treasure the most. As a child, I remember clinging to my mother’s leg as she slowly drizzled braided bread with coffee syrup, releasing the heady scent of freshly ground cardamom.
This Thanksgiving, I’ll be welcoming guests with a signature cocktail and a lively non-alcoholic beverage that makes the most of those scents. This syrup couldn’t be easier to make. Leftovers keep indefinitely in the fridge and you won’t believe all the wonderful ways it can be used. (Try drizzling it over whipped cream on pumpkin pie – or simply atop vanilla ice cream.)
Because the holidays are decadent and warm, this cocktail also features bourbon. It’s also because it’s inevitable that someone you call family is going to grate on your nerves and bourbon makes everything better.
Fairytale of New York
1/4 oz Coffee Cardamom syrup (recipe to follow)
2 oz. bourbon
1 oz. bitter vermouth (such as Vermut)
3 dashes of cardamom bitters
Garnish with orange and brandied cranberry (optional)
Mix in a lowball glass. Stir well. Serve.
Coffee Cardamom Syrup
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
10 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Pour into a small pot. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until reduced by half. Allow to cool. Store in a squeeze bottle in the fridge.
The syrup is fantastic in all kinds of ways, but an n/a take is to just mix 3 tablespoons syrup with bubble water over ice.