Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Meyer Lemon-Cinnamon Simple Syrup and Two Delicious Holiday Cocktails

Today I bring you one fantastic syrup, and two holiday cocktails. Three recipes in one! Not to mention the virgin cinnamon lemonades you can make with this. Especially sparkling cinnamon lemonades. I love sparkling beverages. 

S and I were early adapters to the whole Soda Stream craze, and we're still pretty in love with ours several years later. Before we even got it, when we were browsing online, I knew there was no way I was using those pre-fab syrups it comes with. Not when there was basil-lime soda, or ginger-tangerine Orangina's to be made! 

December in New York is difficult. You want to go Christmas shopping and look at the decorations and feel festive, but it's really cold, and there's this slushy sleet falling from the sky pooling all over the sidewalk and it's a wet, cold experience. However, it's also the beginning of citrus season, and a bite of a delightful orange or a fresh glass of lemonade goes a long way in making me forget it's sleeting, again. 

Meyer Lemons rank amongst my favorite citrus fruits, they're a sweeter, softer skinned variety of lemons that are so sweet and delightful you can even eat them plain. An interesting fruit, they were killed off in the 1940s and revived in the 1970s as the Improved Meyer Lemon.

In the past I've made a Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake, which was great. And I've made lemonade with them many times, and once a cake covered in candied meyer lemon slices. So when I saw a 2lb box of meyer lemons at Fairway last weekend I grabbed it immediately. 

There is a restaurant near our apartment called Peels which serves an incredible cinnamon lemonade which S and I tried on the recommendation of two preteen girls I know. These drinks are a grown up version of that lemonade. The hot toddy is complex, rich and inviting, perfect for warming up after sledding or some holiday caroling. It would be fantastic out of a thermos slope side after a day of skiing. Not that I'm suggesting you drink in public. Often.

The Cinnamon Snowbird is a fizzy cinnamon tinged whiskey lemonade. The whiskey is wintery and warming, the cinnamon definitely adds a clear note of Holiday! and the lemon is like a warming beam of sunlight on a snowy day. I couldn't resist adding seltzer. Sparkling cocktails are my favorite. 

This would be a fantastic drink for a Christmas cocktail soiree, or a New Years Ever bash. It's easy drinking and not too stiff (though feel free to add as much extra whiskey as you want), with a festive cinnamon note and a bright zippy citrus flavor. Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon Cinnamon Simple Syrup

3/4 C Sugar
1/2 C Meyer Lemon juice (about 4-6 lemons)
Zest of 1 meyer lemon
1 C Water
1 Cinnamon stick
1 thin sliced meyer lemon (optional)

Combine water, zest, and sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium-low until all sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved add the cinnamon stick, lemon juice, and if you're using them, add the lemon slices.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10-12 minutes. Taste it occasionally, it should be pretty strong, since it'll be watered down in your drink.
After cooking 10-12 minutes, remove from heat and strain syrup through a fine sieve to remove lemon pulp. Eat the lemon slices, they're candied now! Store in a jar and use to make the cocktails listed below, or a sparkling lemonade.

Cinnamon Snowbird (makes 4):

6 oz Whiskey
8 oz Meyer Lemon Cinnamon Syrup
Thin sliced lemon or a portion of a cinnamon stick (garnish)

Gather four tumblers or mason jars, and pour 1.5 oz whiskey into each. Add 2 oz Meyer Lemon Syrup per glass, then top with seltzer. Float a slice of lemon or bit of cinnamon stick on top for garnish. 

Spiced Meyer Lemon Hot Toddy (makes 2):

3 Oz Whiskey
3 oz Meyer Lemon Cinnamon Syrup
10 oz steeped black tea
thinly sliced lemon optional
Makes 2

Add 1.5 oz (1 shot) Whiskey and 1.5 oz Meyer Lemon Cinnamon Syrup to each mug, add 5 oz hot black tea, and garnish with thinly sliced lemon, if you like. 


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