Did you know all of your distributors sell nearly an endless variety of complex, nuanced, and expressive liqueurs? It’s true, but you won’t find them listed next to the cordials, or Amari, or even in the “Spirits” section of their books at all. Also, there is some assembly required.
Enter: wine syrup. You’ve read Wine Spectator, yes? Each wine rating is accompanied by a short blurb.
Here are three recent ones:
“… bursting with black cherry, grapey and boysenberry flavors, with dark chocolate and toasty accents.”
“… a balanced mix of kiwifruit, lime granita and stone notes.”
“… well-crafted, with touches of ripeness to the baked apple, lemon curd and dried pear flavors, this has pastry notes in the midpalate, with some citrus zest accents on the finish.”
Think about it. If some kids in Brooklyn or Detroit started making a line of liqueurs with descriptions like these, they’d be the hottest sh!t around. You’d be falling over yourself to get these products into your program. Why? Because they sound awesome and because they would BE awesome in a cocktail, adding depth and complexity to the mix.
So instead of paying $30 for a fifth of craft liqueur that doesn’t exist yet, make this a reality by paying half that price with double the yield and turning the beautiful wines of the world into incredible ingredients in your beverage programs. You can do this with any wine: red, white, pink, sparkling, or still in either of two methods:
Combine equal parts 2:1 rich simple syrup and the wine of your choice. Because you aren’t heating the wine in this process, you retain some potency, and maintain all of the wine’s freshness in the resulting syrup.
Combine equal parts wine and sugar in a saucepan and heat slowly, stirring often, to dissolve sugar and reduce the liquid by one-half.
Method One preserves the freshness and vibrancy of the wine, and retains the potency of the resulting syrup. Method Two sacrifices the alcoholic potency in exchange for concentrating the flavors of the wine more deeply. Method One is best for more delicate wines and emphasizes breadth of all flavors, while Method Two is better for bolder wines and emphasizing depth of the main flavors.
Common wines yield predictable flavors in syrup form. Syrups from chardonnay wines will give rich notes of oak and orchard fruit. Sauvignon blancs will yield zingy herbal and citrus notes. For red wines, pinot noir wines will produce syrups with strawberry and cherry notes, whereas cabernet sauvignon wines will give deeper notes of black fruits and spice.
But I challenge you not to think about what spirits would pair best with these common wines. Instead, start with a spirit or cocktail that you really want to work with. There are vastly many more wines than spirits, so don’t limit yourself out of the gate. Let’s say you are workshopping an Improved Anejo Tequila Cocktail. You could emphasize flavors of oranges and honey with a Vouvray wine syrup. You might instead want to utilize a California Chardonnay to brighten with flavors of baked apple while reinforcing the oak tones of your tequila. You could go in a completely different direction and make a Vaqueyras wine syrup to add deep dark fruit notes while punctuating the peppery flavors of the tequila.
I’m excited to hear about how you will incorporate wine syrups into your program. Share your best work with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @drinkingthings. Cheers!